How Much Will My Guests Eat & Drink?

As a host, when you invite people to your house, it is usually a goal to make sure your guests are comfortable, having fun, and enjoying themselves. Part of making sure this is accomplished is being assured that everyone has enough to eat and drink during your party. You do not want to have a situation where food and alcohol has to be rationed to make sure everyone gets a little.

There are many factors to consider when figuring out how much to buy. First, you will need to create your guest list. In order to buy the right amount of supplies you need to know how many people will be attending your party. Once you have this number determined, you will need to decide what you will be serving. Generally, a typical meal at a dinner party will include appetizers, salad, a meat of some type, a starch, vegetables, dessert, and drinks. You can decide to make all of the items yourself, have some guests bring a dish, or buy some of the items already prepared. You will also need to factor in the number of hours that you expect your party to last.

Now comes the question, how much will my guests eat? These numbers are based off the average amount of food a person typically eats while at a dinner party. You may want to overestimate a little just in case you have guests who want seconds.

  • Appetizers: Each guest will eat approximately 10-12 pieces of whatever you serve. If you have multiple appetizers, you should make about 3-4 pieces of each dish to ensure that there will be enough.
  • Salad: A head of lettuce feeds about 5 people or about 1 cup of salad per person.
  • Meat: People typically eat about 5 to 6 ounces of meat at a meal; you will want to buy enough so that each person will get this amount. If there are bones in the meat, you may want to increase the weight.
  • Starch: As a starch, you can serve pasta or rice. One pound of pasta will serve four people. You may also choose to serve a vegetable with your meal; your guests will eat about a cup of vegetables with their meal.
  • Dessert: The last course served is dessert. There are many different options as far as what you can serve; you want to make sure that you make enough so that each guest will have at least one serving or piece.

The last thing to figure out, how much will people drink at your party? This number is a little more difficult to figure out because you do not always know who will be drinking alcohol and who will not. What people prefer to drink and the weather and season can also impact this number. Buying drink items in bulk is usually the best way to go and the most cost effective. To figure out the quantity of drinks you will need, many people typically have two drinks the first hour they are at the party and will have one drink for every hour after that. On figuring out what types of drinks to buy, it is good to have a selection. Some people drink white wine and others drink red. If you have a party with a lot of beer drinkers it may be beneficial to buy a keg. If you are buying hard liquor but do not want to buy multiple bottles, vodka is typically the most popular and can be mixed with many different things. You can also check with your liquor store if they will allow you to return unopened bottles in case you buy too much. If you want to keep your costs lower and your options simple, serve only beer, wine and soft drinks.