Party Food Quantities and
Party Supplies Guide
“Did you say 12 ounces or 12 pounds of vanilla...?”
How much party food should I buy? How much should I serve?
Read on to learn the guidelines and tips to get it right.
No one wants to spend more than they need. But these are your invited guests, it's your party, and you don’t want to run out of party food. Right?
The best planning tool is the fact that
people can only eat so much food.
But how much?:
: Serving Snacks, Appetizers, Desserts - but not Dinner: Plan for 6-8 bites per person, per hour, less after each hour
Dinner Menu?:Snacks, Appetizers, Dinners, Salads, Vegetables, Desserts:
Plan for 1.5 pounds of food per person
Appetizers? Planning food for an appetizer-style, snacks and finger food party? On average, people attending a non-dinner party will consume about six to eight bites per hour.
So for example: Let’s say you served only Lobster Roll Snacks. You can plan on your guests eating seven crackers each, per hour. If you add Crescent Pizza to your menu, you can plan on serving four pieces of each appetizer, per person per hour.
People need to like what you’re serving. If one of your appetizers was extremely spicy, or if something just wasn’t that good,
you might wind up serving much more of one appetizer than another.
Planning pays off.
Dinner Party? Planning food for a longer, dinner-style party? People will consume 1½ pounds (24 ounces) of food per person.
So for example: If at your dinner party for 25 people - you serve one snack, two appetizers, one salad, one vegetable, two dinners, and two desserts – you’ll serve a total of around 40lbs. of food, (which means actual food served after it’s been cleaned and cooked.)
TIP: Party-Recipes-and-Ideas uses disposable aluminum pans, usually the 10”x12¾”x2½” size for our Dinners and Vegetables recipes. These pans hold about 5 pounds of cooked food each.
So for example: If you served Chicken with Apple Stuffing and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, two pans of each would feed 13-15 people over a three hour period, if that’s all they ate. Now throw in a snack, appetizer or two, salad and dessert – see how it all adds up?
Menu design is key. Read through our section about menu planning and you’ll see what we mean. Plan a nice party food menu that’s got several different tastes and follow our quantities to make sure you have enough.
People eat more when they have unlimited alcohol available to drink.
We always increase our numbers by around 15%
when there is an open bar.
Party-Recipes-and-Ideas includes shopping lists with all of our recipes. These recipes are designed to feed 50 people. Truth is, we hate to run out of food and we bet you do too. So we always add in a little extra, usually 10%, to our calculations. Still, you will run out of something, we do, everyone does.
We don’t mind having leftovers – usually they can be frozen and enjoyed for future meals. So don’t be afraid to have a little more than you might need. All of our recipes include leftover storage and recommendations. Good food never goes to waste.
You can scale our party food recipes up and down, multiplying or dividing as you need. It’s like using a computer map, you should do a reality check and think through what the numbers are saying. And you can always ask us.
How much alcohol and other beverages should I buy? People usually have two drinks in the first hour, and one for every hour after. This can be a combination of alcohol and soft drinks. Liquid is liquid. The crowd, the occasion and the temperature can change this up. Our Bar and Beverage Planner spells it out pretty well. Again, we hate to run out of any party food or drink, and there is nothing wrong with having a little left over for next time.
How about plates, knives, forks and spoons, cups and all that? If you’re renting, the rental company will ask you how many people you’re serving and what your menu is. From that, they will tell you what you need to rent for your party. If you’re buying disposable products, we recommend that you buy twice as many plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups and napkins as you have guests. You may or may not one wind up with some things extra, but these will be put to good use in the future. But this isn’t your last party is it?
One thing to remember when you’re buying these disposables – plan around your menu. If you’re serving appetizers, then dinner, then a dessert – you’ll need 6in. plates for the appetizers, 9 or 10in. plates for the dinner and 5in. plates for the dessert. You’ll want small napkins for the appetizer, large napkins for dinner and small napkins for dessert – plus napkins for the bar. Same thing with cups – If you’re serving cocktails, water and then coffee, you’ll need seven ounce tumblers, ten ounce water glasses, and 8 ounce hot and cold cups. Be sure to check out shopping tips to see how to save money on this stuff.Questions about party food? Need an idea for your party?
Time to do some Menu Planning?
Want to get some Helpers?
Use the form below to ask us about quantities, substitutions,
whatever. We're here to help. Ask-a-Caterer is Free!
Take Me Home to Party Recipes and ideas!
Back to the top for more Party Food
Best Food Warmer,
our most popular,
home party perfect!
Our favorite knife - we use
it 85% of the time. Cheap
knifes should be illegal.
Party Food MUST! Food
safe and savory, have
one in my pocket now.
Great occasional use,
best all purpose size,
with lid, priced right.
Caterer's use real Bases
for sauces, soups and more.
Amazon has all the
This disposable chafer
is ugly, but it works
great, especially back
in the kitchen.
THE best caterer's cookbook
ever, for serious party food.
Written for devoted cooks
there's nothing better.
Believe it or not, you
can stir 350^ oil with
this spatula. We use