While it's easiest to put out a lot of food at once, you can save a lot of waste and possibly prevent some food poisoning by putting food out in smaller batches and replacing it as it runs out. This keeps food from sitting out all day (or all night) so any food that is leftover is still edible. If food needs to be left out for long periods of time, make sure it is properly cooled or kept warm using either ice or warming trays.
When I take something that needs to stay cold to an outdoor party in the summertime/warmer weather, I always take along a bowl much bigger than the bowl the food is in. I place ice in the big bowl, then place the food bowl on top of the ice. As the ice melts, keep replenishing it, this keeps the food cool as the day wears on.
The other advantage to putting out food in smaller batches is that as the food gets served out of the containers, the serving dish looks nicer- not half eaten and messy. Also safer carrying big dishes, often hot, which in a crowd can be dangerous and costly. This is why I have a collection of smaller casserole dishes. Also, if you have leftovers, they're more appetizing in small complete dishes than if you have to scrape out of a big dish.
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