January 2, 2018

Party Planning: How Much to Cook for a Crowd (Updated May 2018)

If I got a pulled pork roll for every time I get asked “How much should I cook for XYZ event” I wouldn't be able to cover myself with a double bed duvet.

Before anyone can answer this question, you have to think about a few variable, such as;

The occasion
The duration (you can't expect to feed everyone once for a day-long wedding!)
The average age and gender,
What else is being served (maybe uncle Tim is making 3kgs of his family famous pasta), Event timing and so on & so on!

Let figure this one together and put a number on it, for what you need to for catering for a party.

Party Planning Variables (Variables Are Key Here)

What is the Occasion?
What sort of occasion are you cooking for? Is a baby shower? A graduation party? An office party? A Christmas party?  A business meeting?

How Long Will The Event Go For?
You need to ask yourself how long the event will be because that will dictate how many meals you need to serve.

Do you plan on having a buffet or sit down meal?  You will find that people tend to eat more at a buffet as well as over-serve themselves.

What are the Gender and Age?
You need to know how many women, men and children will be in attendance as well as the age groups.

You will find that children and older people may not eat as much whereas young men and teenagers will dig right in.

What Else Are You Going To Serve?
Will you have appetisers passed around and how willing will they be? Do your plans on serving any side dishes with your meal?

What Time Is Your Event?
You need to take into account the time of day your event will be on. If you serving dinner you may find people will want to eat more than if you were serving lunch

What Sort of Equipment Will You Have?
The quality and quantity of food you can produce will depend on your equipment. If you just have your small Weber grill you might find it hard to plan a meat-based menu around that.

I recommend a pellet smoker for any kind of event. The pellet fuel system is automatic and you can monitor the temperature remotely.

It is recommended that you use a holding system for your food on the day, the last thing you want is hungry guests.This can be alleviated by using your cooler as an insulated food holder, otherwise known as a faux Cambro.

Dietary Requirements
Make sure you find out if any of your guests have any dietary requirements. This could be a big problem if you don’t have anything for a person.

Charlies Hot Tip

Make More Than Enough
The best thing to do is cook more than you think you need. The last thing you want is to run out.

 People also tend to take go into survival mode and take more if it looks like they won't be enough. It is always good to have leftovers to eat later or send home with your guests.

Measurements When Cooking For A Crowd

Planning is the absolute key to do is ensure you don’t run out of food. 

Our roughest guess to plan to serve .5 pound or .25kg of meat per person. If you have a large percentage of men in the crowd increase that to 1 pound or .5kgs.

When you are planning drinks we suggest allowing for two drinks per person per hour.

The above is the baseline we have outlined below the specific measurements when planning to cook for a crowd. Remember always plan for extra, leftovers are always a bonus after a party.

How Much Chicken Per Person

For each adult, count on having about 4 to 5 ounces or .15kgs of cooked chicken.

10 ounces of uncooked boneless chicken breasts will yield approximately 6 1/2 ounces cooked.

10 ounces of uncooked boneless chicken thighs will yield about 5 ounces cooked.

How Many Ribs Per Person

Plan to serve three to four ribs per person.

Each rack, whether they’re country-style or baby-back, usually has 13 to 14 individual ribs on it, so go ahead and prepare 4 slabs if you’re serving 10 people.

How Much Steak Per Person

You should allow for eight ounces (or half a pound) of steak per person. However, if you are cooking something that will significantly cook down like brisket go for 3/4 of a pound per person

How Much Salmon Per Person

There are two main ways salmon is prepared and served, whole and fillets

If serving the whole salmon – which means that the fish are exactly as they came from the water – you should figure each person will eat 3/4 pound to 1 pound

If serving salmon fillets – which are ready-to-cook lengthwise slices of fish – on average each person will eat 1/3 to 1/2 pound.

Here’s how much you’ll need if each person eats 1/2 pound: An average salmon fillet is 1/4 pound so allow 1.5 - 2 salmon fillet per person. 

How Much Brisket Per Person

You will probably lose about 50% of the weight of your brisket after trimming and cooking it.

Therefore it is recommended you get about 2 pounds more per person. Besides, it is always good to have leftovers.

How Much Pulled Pork Per Person

When your cooking pulled pork for a crowd there are two rules to remember

1st Rule
You need ⅓ of a pound or 5 ounces per person. To feed three people you need at least 1 pound of cooked pulled

2nd Rule
You need to anticipate your meat to reduce by about 50%, so if cook 20 pounds of raw pork you will only have 10 pounds to serve.

Charlie's Hot Tip

Like the sound of caramel pulled pork? Making the caramel sauce is easy. All you need is 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup water. Add both of these to large skillet and boil over medium heat for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  

Use this caramel sauce to ensure you juicy and succulent pulled pork when it comes times to serving!

How Much Pork Tenderloin Per Person

When you plan to serve pork tenderloin it is recommended you allow about 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person.

How Many Ounces of Salad Per Person

If you plan on having a salad with your meal try to allow for 4 ounces per person.

Further Guides on Serving Sizes

Rice or Grains. 3 ounces as a side dish, 6 ounces in a main dish such as risotto.

Pasta. 8 ounces for a main dish or 4 ounces for a first course or side dish

Potatoes. 7 ounces per person.

Cake, Tart, or Pastry. 1.5 pieces

Vegetables. 5 ounces.

Appetizers. 4 bites per hour.

Ice Cream. 6 ounces per person.

More Party Planning Resources

We recommend the following sites and resources to ensure your catering estimates are correct, 

Fix, This site is always a handy go to for us. 

Martha Stewart has fantastic tips on party planning checklist

Final Thoughts

Along with having a good think about all the variables that will affect your catering, I recommend a few good days of prep.

The more you have done before the day will allow you to spend more time with your friends and family.

Not only this it will allow you to look after the star of the show, the delicious and delectable meats.

Charlie

Whats favourite party dish to prepare?

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