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How Much Food is Enough?
For many people, one of the toughest challenges when planning a party is trying to decide how much food they will need to serve. I'd love to say that there is a fool-proof formula to solve this dilemma but, in the end, the answer to this question involves more art than science.
Many factors come into play when you make your plans including the length of your party, the type of food you'll be serving, the composition of men, women and children in your group, as well as the richness of the food you plan to serve. The time of your party is also very important. An after-dinner cocktail party requires much less food than an all-afternoon barbecue.
Fortunately, there are a number of general principles you can follow when planning your menu and recipes.
Begin by following these "rules of thumb" and write down your initial thoughts. Then look at the big picture several times over a period of a few days to make adjustments to your plan.
- Always round up your estimates, don't round them down.
- Anticipate which food selections will be most popular and serve more of them than the general portion guidelines suggest. For example, shellfish appetizers are always popular, so serve as much as your budget allows.
- The more choices you offer, the smaller your calculation of individual portion size should be.
- That said, you can assume your guests will taste everything on a buffet, but the tastes will be small. However, overall consumption per individual will be greater than if there were fewer choices.
- Add "bulk" items to your menu. For a sit-down dinner have plenty of bread to fill in any hungry spots. When hosting a cocktail party, nuts, olives, pretzels, etc. provide a little extra security that you'll have enough for all but requires no extra work.