Beginner’s Guide to Calculating Food for a Party

A Beginner’s Guide to Calculating Food for a Party

There are a few things in life that are better than a good meal shared with your friends and loved ones. With that being said, we know that planning a party can be a lot of work. One of the hardest things about planning a party is estimating the amount of food to prepare. The last thing you want is to have too much or too little food for your hungry guests. To help you out, we thought it would be useful to put together a guide on this topic. If this is something that you want to learn more about, read on for a beginner’s guide to calculating food for a party.

Calculating the Amount of Food Per Person

The thing that you have to understand is that there is no one answer to this question. There is no formula for calculating exactly how much food you’ll need for a party; you’ll just have to guess and then overestimate the amount a little bit. If you end up with extra, that’s okay; there are plenty of creative uses for leftover food. It’s better to buy too much than to run out.

Basic Guidelines

While calculating may be tricky, it can be a lot easier if you know what you’re doing. Here are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind when calculating the amount of food to prepare for your party:

  • Appetizers: When calculating how many appetizers to buy for a party, consider each person eating an average of five to eight appetizers per hour. If the party includes a meal, you can expect each person to consume three or four appetizers before the meal. Offer more types of appetizers for parties with a larger crowd.
  • Full Meals: If you’re hosting a dinner party and have multiple choices for each course, you can get away with having fewer dishes on hand. First, consider which dish you think will be the most popular. Then, if you’re offering a buffet-style dinner, ensure you have enough to go around for everyone to get multiple helpings of each dish. Make sure there are side dishes available as well; if not, estimate four ounces of side dishes to serve as each course.
  • Salads: For potato salads, pasta salads, or other prepared salads, one gallon will feed 20-25 people. Now, leafy vegetable salads are a little different. You’ll have to prepare approximately one cup per person, before dressing.
  • Fruit and Veggie Trays: For fresh fruit, an average of half a cup per person should do the trick. An equal number of pieces of fresh veggies should also suffice for the appetizer. Be sure to provide plenty of dip for both.
  • Desserts: It’s best to serve desserts as single servings. You’ll need fewer servings if you’re expecting a large group. One 9-inch layer cake will serve 10 to 12 people; one 9-inch pie will serve 6 to 8.


We hope this article proves to be useful when it comes to helping you prepare for your upcoming party. While the party may seem like a lot of work, we know for a fact that it will be well-worth it in the end. To make things easier for you, be sure to apply everything that you learned here so that you can have the right amount of food for your guests.

If you don’t want to worry about estimating the amount of food to prepare, then we suggest hiring a private chef.  If you’re looking for a private chef that can provide you and your guests with the best dining experience possible, Food Fire + Knives has got you covered. Contact us so we can help you find the perfect chef for your next dinner party. If you want to learn more about what the in-home chef experience has to offer, check out our blog today!

Published By Kim Gandhi Kim Gandhi began cooking at 8 years old with a love of food driving her to experiment with her Hispanic and German heritage. She gained a BBA in Marketing and turned to the business world for much of her career. Her strong customer service background and her passion for great events that involve chefs, customers, and amazing food allows her to indulge in her love of cooking and enjoying what FFK chefs bring to the table.