Whether you’re cooking for 10 guests or 50, cooking for a crowd can
be confusing. How much food is too much? Too little? Will I have enough
to feed my guests, or will I be stuck with tons of leftovers?
Stop these questions once and for all with this handy guide that explains exactly how much food to feed those hungry guests.
1. General Guidelines
While the amount of food you serve will depend on a variety of
factors, there are some general ideas about how much food to serve. You
can either break your shopping list down into individual portions or
base your list on multiples of 5 or 10 guests. I find that it’s a lot
easier to divide your shopping list into groups than into individuals,
but use what works best for you.
2. Main Dish
For your main dish, you definitely want to make sure you have enough food to satisfy your guests. As a general rule, figure about 4 pounds of food for every 10 guests. If you are serving two main dishes, adjust serving sizes accordingly — a lot of people will probably want to try one of everything!
3. Sides and Appetizers
Appetizers and sides are tricky to serve because you never know what will go over well and what won’t get touched. If you’re serving appetizers, I would suggest about 5 pieces per guest (remember, appetizers are small!)
If you’re serving salads and pastas, about 3 pounds per 10 people should do the trick. For green salads, I suggest purchasing a 2-lb bag of bulk greens and serving 2 pounds for every 10 people that show up. Serve dressing on the side so guests can opt out of it if they desire. What’s more, leaving the dressing off the salad prevents the salad from wilting in the bowl.
4. Drinks (Non-Alcoholic)
For non-alcoholic drinks, consider whipping up a gallon of punch or lemonade for every 10 guests. There are some great punch recipes available online to try if you don’t want to serve a pre-packaged mix.
5. Cocktails and Other Alcoholic Beverages
If you plan to serve alcohol at your gathering, estimate about 2 drinks per person, per hour, on average. Of course, you will have people who don’t drink at all, while others drink substantially more than 2 drinks per hour. Hopefully, it will balance out — and you can always ask guests to bring their own booze if you are worried about running out.
While cooking for a crowd can be a daunting task, these tips should give you a general idea of how much food to serve. There are no hard and fast rules for serving a crowd, but these general guidelines should help you throw your next party without a hitch!