How Much Should I Serve?

Your party food questions answered. Our expert shares insider tips to make holiday entertaining easy.

The two most important questions when preparing for your holiday entertaining when it comes to the menu is “How much do I need to prepare?” and “How do I figure the portions?” The greatest fear of any good hostess is running out of food. Here are some simple steps to help you have the confidence that you have prepared enough food for your guests.

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The number one rule of thumb is to always round your estimate up, don’t round down.

Know the profile of your guests. Are there a bunch of young hearty eaters attending or is it a lady’s social club? If you have hearty eaters you may have to allocate 1.5 times the amount of your portions.

The time of day will play a factor on determining portion size. Guests are inclined to be hungrier at traditional meal times.

When preparing a four course meal, here are some simple rules to follow.

Appetizers – If you are offering appetizers before the meal you can count on your guests taking about 3 – 5 pieces. The more variety you offer, the more they will eat. Consider preparing fewer items and add filler foods such as a vegetable tray, mixed nuts and olives.

A 2/1/2 bag of green salad will serve 20 people with 2 oz. of dressing per person.

Entrée of Main Course – The protein is usually the centerpiece of your menu. A 5 to 6 ounce piece of meat is adequate without over feeding your guests. Plan on about 3-4 ounces of starch and 3 ounces of vegetable. When serving mashed potatoes use ½ potato per serving .
If you offer more than one protein, plan on your guests taking one of each.

Dessert – After a filling meal, although dessert is important, it does not have to be overly filling.
Again if you offer more than one dessert, many of your guests will take more than one so you will need to provide 1 ½ to 2 of each. Chocolate dessert always seems to be the most popular.

Dianne Theurer is Director of Catering at Temple Square Hospitality.

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