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How to Calculate Food Portions for Catering

How to Calculate Food Portions for Catering


The most difficult task in catering is learning how to calculate food portions for the number of guests and the type of event you have. You don’t want people to go home hungry, but you also don’t want to have too many leftovers.


We’ve created a budget guide, covering the most common catering situations.


1. A Quick Guide on How to Calculate Food Portions for Catering

2. Food Platters

2. Platter Variety

3. Catering Portions Chart

4. Stay Safe on Your Feet



A Quick Guide on How to Calculate Food Portions for Catering

Food Platters

When making food platters with small bites of a food, for general and fast calculation, do the following:


Guests: ___ number of guests

End Result: ___ light snack (3 bites); ___ bridge the gap (6 bites); ___ full meal (10-12 bites)

Calculation: Guests X Bites = Total Bites

How Many Platters?: ___ Total Bites ÷ Bites per platter (example: 15) = Number of Platters



100 guests x Full Meal (10-12) = 1200 ÷ 15 = 80 platters
100 guests x Bridge the Gap (6) = 600 ÷ 15 = 40 platters

100 guests x Light Snack (3) = 300 ÷ 15 = 20 platters


So, for an event of 100 guests, you’ll need 80 platters to feed the guests at “full meal” capacity. You may feel the need to order 1-2 more than your calculation, but keep in mind that different guests have different levels of appetite.


It’s best not to have too many leftovers since any extra time making extra bites costs your staff time and costs you money in wasted ingredients.


Make sure everyone on your staff knows what’s in the foods and what you have on offer. A guest may have allergies (such as a dairy allergy) or a preference (such as an aversion to mayonnaise) and you’ll want your staff to be able to point the guest in the direction of options he or she can eat.


Make sure you do provide dairy free and nut free options for those with allergies and aversions as well as vegan and vegetarian options.



 image credit


Platter Variety


There are a range of different platters you can prepare as long as you calculate the portions correctly. Try and provide variety for your guests so something will appeal to everyone.


Here are some platter suggestions and what to include:


  • Fruit Platters: melon, pineapple, grapes, berries, seasonal fruit.

  • Meat and Cheese Platters: deli sliced beef, turkey, ham, other sliced meats optional; cheddar, swiss, or other sliced, regional cheeses; with salad vegetables: romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, and sprouts (cress); serve with mayo, mustard, and mini rolls.

  • Veggie Platter: carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, celery, snow peas (sugar snaps), radishes, asparagus; serve with different dipping sauces.

  • Dips Platter: bruschetta topping, cheese dip, spinach-artichoke dip; serve with crostini and crackers for dipping.

  • Cheese and Crackers Platter: Serve assorted cheeses with crackers, digestive biscuits, chutneys, and fruit.

  • Fruit and Cheese Platter: seasonal fruits with a selection of cheeses; serve with bread and crackers.

  • Mediterranean Platter: falafel, quinoa, tabbouleh, hummus, pita bread, pesto drizzled feta, tzatziki.

  • Sandwich Platter: a series of pre-made sandwiches in a wide variety of options.  


Keep presentation in mind when designing platters. You want to make everything look attractive and appealing. Vary your colour choice too as it will not only look beautiful, but it will also provide a nutritionally varied meal for your guests.


Catering Portions Chart

For a complete breakdown for buffet and table service portions, see our various charts. We have a chart that provides suggested portions for a single guest, 25 guests, and 50 guests - and can be scaled up or down accordingly.


From appetiser portions to soups and stews to desserts and side dishes, we cover almost every type of food you'd need to include on your catering menu - with European metric and US imperial measurements included too - so everyone can understand the quantities with ease.





Appetisers or Hors D'oeuvres



Appetiser Type


Different Appetisers Per Person 25 Guests

50 Guests


Preceding a Full 

Meal (Starter/Snack

At Least 4 6-8 Pieces 150-200 300-400
Used as a meal At least 6 12-15 Pieces 300-375  600-750







Soups and Stews





Entrees / Main Course





Side Dishes









If your appetisers or hors d’oeuvres are served as a mealbut you have a filling food station available such as pasta or mashed potatoes, you can reduce your numbers of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres/appetisers. It’s always a good idea to include a filling item along with appetisers so no one goes away hungry.


Often when eating small bites, customers do not know how much they’re eating so it’s a game of filling their mental hunger as well as physical hunger.



Stay Safe on Your Feet


When you work on your feet all day at events you’re catering for, moving from surface to surface can be dangerous so it’s vital that you wear the right shoes. The right shoes keep you looking professional, keep you safe and keep you going for longer. This is imperative to get you maximising your output and keeping your clients and their guests happy. 


At Shoes For Crews (Europe), we have a selection of safe, comfortable, stylish, slip-resistant catering footwear that is perfect for you. These shoes keep you safe from the ground up and stop you from worrying about slips and trips, the most common workplace accident.



Keep Your Menu Fresh and Exciting


No matter how delicious your food is, there’s always room for innovation on your menu. Make sure you’re delighting customers by keeping up to date with the latest food trends.


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