August 20, 2010

Catering Tips: Food Quantities

Now you have the basics for what to order, but you may still be wondering how much you should order. We have found the answer depends on several factors:
  • Type of event (guests eat more at casual functions than at formal ones)
  • Length of event (the longer the event, the more food needed)
  • Time of event (guests tend to eat more at dinner than at lunch)
  • Season of event (guests eat more when they are cold than when they are hot)
  • Number of guests (the more guests in attendance, the more food needed)
  • Ages of guests (younger guests typically eat more than older ones)
  • Type of menu (plated dinners are vastly different than boxed lunches, buffets, or hors d'oeuvres)
You'll want to give all this information to your caterer, who will take every aspect into consideration and prepare the appropriate amounts for your specific event, even when using a pre-planned menu.

Hors d'oeuvres are perhaps the most complex type of food to determine quantities. There are basic guidelines, which will vary with the above factors:
  • For a short party (2 hours), plan on 10-12 bites per person or 20 if they will replace dinner.
  • For serving before a meal, plan on 5-7 bites per person if it is a light meal, and 3-4 bites per person if it is a heavy meal.
  • For a long party where only hors d'oeuvres will be served, plan the following number of hors d'oeuvres, breaking them up into "light" and "heavy" ones to be passed and set up in active, attended stations:
    • Less than 25 people: 5-6 different hors d'oeuvres
    • 25-50 people: 9-10 different hors d'oeuvres
    • More than 50 people: more than 10 hors d'oeuvres
Do you have a catering question? Ask us, and we'll be happy to answer it in an upcoming post.

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