How To Determine The Right Portions For Event Catering

No matter the size and no matter the occasion, one of the most basic and most difficult steps in event catering is deciding how much food to prepare. After all, up until the moment they arrive at the door, and even after, it’s almost impossible to know how many people are actually attending, and food lists must be prepared well in advance of the big day. Per person calculations differ depending on the time of day, the type of food, and the length of the event. Although leftovers are always appreciated, it’s important to stick as close to the correct amount as possible if you’re on a tight budget.

How Do You Calculate the Amount of Food to Prepare When Event Catering?

Once you know the number of guests who will show up to your event, use the handy guide below to determine how much food you should order or prepare. If you aren’t certain of the number of guests, count up the RSVPs, add 10-15 people, and use your best judgment from there.

  1. One and a Half Pounds - This is the starting place for determining how much food each person should get.
  2. Dish Type – Take into account that people usually eat more of the entrée and less of the sides. Assess which items will be crowd favourites (any kind of dessert) and which may be sadly under-consumed (perhaps salads).
  3. Time of Day – If your event is between meals, your guests might just be looking for a quick snack or two rather than a meal. The later the lunch or dinner, the more hungry your guests will be. Temperature also determines people’s appetites. They tend to eat less on the hottest days of the summer and more in the winter.
  4. Event Type – How eager are you to chow down on messy spaghetti and chocolate cake in front of your boss? Eating of any kind may not fit with someone’s professional demeanour – it’s often not the most attractive or dignified of acts, especially if you’re less than graceful. Thus, people tend to eat more when they’re with friends than with their co-workers. Although, any leftover food from business catering has a way of being snuck out of the kitchen rather quickly.
  5. Apps – At least two discrete units of food per person is the standard for appetizers and finger foods. If the menu consists of primarily appetizers, account for each person having one or about 10-15 pieces per person across all of the dishes.
  6. Serving Style – People usually eat more with buffet and DIY-style serving than if a tray is being passed around or from pre-portioned plates.
  7. Beverages – Attendees drink about three beverages an event, depending on the length and type. Coffee drinkers may have one to two cups an hour while alcoholic drinks may (if you’re not careful) go even more quickly.

Be sure to have backup food in case of emergencies such as chips and dip, party mix, or anything pre-packaged, or sandwich fixings or fresh fruit. Depending on the length of your party, people may eventually get the late night munchies and want to break out the less-refined food items. Pumpernickel’s understands the intimate psychology of event eating to a tee, and will provide the right amount of food for your Toronto event with just a guest estimate, a date, and a time. After years in the party catering and event catering business, we know the best way to leave your guests satisfied and happy.

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About Pumpernickel's

Since 1986 Pumpernickel's is a leader in corporate catering. It has been one the premier deli and caterers in Toronto, with thousands of satisfied customers in the GTA.  Many of our kitchen locations are located within Toronto's financial core to provide timely services for catering in downtown Toronto. We use only the freshest ingredients, and promise excellent customer service and value for all of your catering services. As soon as you become our regular customer we will not let you down. We are one of the leading corporate catering companies in Toronto, which also offers breakfast catering and sandwich catering. Visit us on Google+.