Figuring How Much Food to Buy for Parties

Party Food
This is a page about figuring how much food to buy for parties. When planning a party, one of the trickiest parts is determining how much food you need. You don't want to run out of anything, but you also don't want to be stuck with endless leftovers. Here are some helpful tips to make it easier.

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April 6, 2006

It will soon be time for graduation parties, family reunions, etc., and it can be difficult to know how much food to fix for a large crowd. Here are several serving guides I have come to rely on:

By Ronsan from Southwest MO

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May 29, 2012

I am having a graduation party in two weeks and we have sent out 160 invitations. On my daughter's menu she has hot creamy chicken sandwiches, cold turkey sandwiches, pasta salad, veggies and dip, chips, fruit cake, and punch. How do you know how much of anything to buy when you have no idea how many are coming?

By Sherry


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May 29, 20120 found this helpful
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Where I live, our graduation parties are open house type. Also the people that I know don't send out that many invitations. A lot of what is served at the parties here are sloppy joes/bar-b-ques, potato salad, pasta salad. Cake, iced tea, and punch. These are all things that whatever is left over can easily be consumed, by the family.


Some cookbooks have a page or two telling how much to make for a certain number of people. You know for sure that not everybody will attend. A couple years ago my granddaughter thought she was going to plan the menu for her party and found out real quick that we couldn't afford a lot of what she thought should be served.

I can't remember how we figured out about how many would attend the party, but I think we planned out of the 50-60 invitations that we sent out, that about 15-20 wouldn't attend. We also served mixed nuts and home made mints in the form of diplomas and mortar boards in her school colors. Those mints can be made a long way ahead of time and frozen.

The left overs fed the family for one or two meals. If there had been a lot of the sloppy joes leftover that could even be frozen for a later date.

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May 31, 20121 found this helpful
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Years ago I had a friend who was big into entertaining and would often throw big open dinner parties. (Yes, she did have a lot of money, lol!) What she usually did was serve food on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those that showed up on time got the good stuff, while those who came later had to make do with nibbles.


I don't know what the wording of your invitations was like, but maybe you could do up hot food for about 50 people or less, then just have snacks or some sandwich fixings available for anyone else who shows. Someone could always run to the supermarket if you run short of food or drinks. I remember with my graduation a lot of kids were having parties the same day, so people tended to show up on a rolling basis. If people ask where the food is you could just act apologetic and say you've already had a crowd. ;-)

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January 24, 2020

How much bread per person should I plan for appetizer party?


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January 27, 20200 found this helpful
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If you are only serving appetizers you should calculate 10 to 15 pieces for each person. I am not sure how small or large the pieces of bread you'll be using but this is a good amount.


Just remember people will eat more if it is a buffet style party and the appetizers are not passed around on trays.

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January 31, 20200 found this helpful
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I am not sure I understand your question. What kind of appetizers--like sandwiches cut into 4s? Or are you having bread and butter as an offering?

Maybe this will help...When I calculate appetizers per person, I am always very generous and calculate 12-15 per person...if it is all women, 15-20 if it is all men and I go 15-18 if it is men and women. I never do apps with kids because it is too complicated and messy. They get things like sliders or chicken nuggets :)

I am a foodie so the more the better and offer take home containers for the leftovers!


People love finger that is why I like to be generous!

Hopefully with more info, I can help you calculate the bread needs.

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June 15, 2009

How do you estimate food for a graduation party?

By cathy kuenning from Grand Rapids, MI


June 16, 20092 found this helpful
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My husband the Chef says 5 oz of starch (potatoes, rice, etc), 5 oz protein (meat, fish, etc), 3 oz vegetables, 3 oz fruit, 3 oz salad, and 1 piece of dessert per person. Hope this helps. You didn't mention if this was a buffet or a plated event.

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June 17, 20090 found this helpful
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Ms. spider's response sounds perfect, but if you'll be having a lot of teens, they might eat more meat (like one hot, one hamburger per) and drink a lot of soda if you provide it. They also eat more than 1 pp of dessert.

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