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Catering: How Much Food Do You Need

Hard work goes into planning a special event, and worrying about something going wrong can cause lots of stress. There are plenty of elements to consider, including catering services and the amount of food you need. To avoid the embarrassment of running out of food, we are sharing some smart event catering tips to help you out.

First of all, here are some of the most important factors to consider:

  • Number of guests
  • Length of event
  • Type of event
  • Type of food

These are especially important because, for example, the food required for an evening cocktail party will be noticeably less than that needed for an all-day event. And remember, the longer guests stay, the more food they will consume.

To be safe, you always want to round up when estimating. Some guests may eat more, others may eat less, and in the end, it should all balance out. Anticipate which food and drink selections will be more popular and order more of those.

In addition, if you are having numerous food options, it would befit you to serve them in smaller portions so that guests may try a little bit of everything.

Here are more helpful catering guidelines for your next special event or gathering:


  • If you are only serving appetizers in the evening (no dinner to follow), plan on at least 10-15 pieces per person. If it will be served buffet style, round up – people tend to eat more in this situation than if a tray is passed.
  • If you are serving pre-dinner appetizers, 3-5 pieces per person should suffice. And since dinner will follow shortly after, choose lighter options.
  • Plan on 1-3 pieces per person for a mid-day function with a meal to follow.


  • Plan on about 3 beverages per person. And on average, coffee drinkers consume one cup every 1.3 hours.


  • People will generally drink 2 beverages (juice, coffee, tea, etc.).
  • Shoot for a main entrée (about 5 oz. per person), along with two sides, including bread.
  • Fruit makes an excellent breakfast dessert. You should plan on about 3-5 pieces of cut fruit, or one cup or less of fruit salad, per person.
  • If you are only serving pastries, plan on 2 pieces per person.


  • For hors d’oeuvres, provide about 2-4 per person.
  • Serve a main entrée (about 5 oz.) with 2-3 sides, including starch and a dessert.
  • Offer a selection of drinks (ex. soda, beer, lemon water, etc.).
  • For sandwiches, allow for 1 to 2 per person.


  • Depending on the number of courses, provide about 3-5 hors d’oeuvres per person.
  • Serve a main entrée (5-7 oz.) with 2-3 sides (veggies, beans, pasta, etc.).
  • Offer small portions of bread, salad, or soup.
  • Always have water, along with other beverages.


  • Anticipate 1-3 servings per person.
  • Offer one slice of cake, tart, or pastry, or 4 oz. of a creamy dessert (ex. mousse).
  • Serve smaller portions if you have a wider variety.
  • It should be noted that coffee consumption peaks after dessert is served. Set up a post-dessert coffee bar or refresh the coffee pot while dessert is being served.

Do you have any other catering tips to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

If you’re looking for an easy and cost-effective catering option, choose the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli. We provide our signature sandwiches, fresh side salads, and tasty desserts. Visit us online or call 909-596-5225 to learn more about our catering options.