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How to estimate food for a crowd

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
We are having a barbecue in a few weeks and I'm trying to do as much pre-buying as possible. I plan on every time I go to the grocery to pick up another bag of hot dog buns, hamburgers, hot dog, etc. and stash them in the freezer.

I'm trying to get a good estimate of how much food to buy. We are having approximately 18-20 adults and 15 kids. The menu:

Hot dogs/buns
Hamburgers/buns
Country ribs (Western style ribs)
Corn relish
All the fixings
Veggie tray
Potato/macaroni salad
Baked beans
Apple strudel
Cheese strudel
Italian wedding cake (cassada cake)
Ice cream sundae station (maybe)
Coffee
Juice boxes for the kids
Water
Beer
Wine


How do I estimate how much to make? I usually make WAY too much food and I don't want too much left over this year. Thanks for any input, and also if you see something missing please let me know!!
post #2 of 5
I'm sorry I don't have any answer for you but what I do during birthday parties is I make a lot of food and make sure there's still food available in the freezer or fridge to cook just in case I run out. I always make too much anyway because I don't feel like cooking the next day.
post #3 of 5
Your menu has a lot of variety in it which is good. If you run out of one thing, everyone will just eat something else. Not everyone is going to eat everything you are offering.

Hot dogs/buns - 1/2 serving per person (you might think about literally cutting them in half)
Hamburgers/buns - 1/2 serving per person (again cut them in half)
Country ribs (Western style ribs) - one or two ribs per person. Everyone may want a taste.
Corn relish - about a 1/4 cup per person
All the fixings - Get a couple of small bottles of each condiment instead of the larger bottles. More people will have access to the condiments so lines will move faster. The smaller bottles are easier to store. If one bottle gets contaminated or left in the sun too long, not all is lost.
Veggie tray - Depending on the size of the tray, one tray will feed 8 to 12 people but also remember you'll have so much other food. I'd figure 3 small trays.
Potato/macaroni salad - a scant 1/4 cup of each. Most people will eat less than 2 tablespoons.
Baked beans - also a scant 1/4 cup unless you provide a separate bowl in which case most people will take more then waste part of it.
Apple strudel - if the recipe serves 12 people, for instance, double that number and count on it serving at least 24
Cheese strudel - same as above
Italian wedding cake (cassada cake) - most people will take a taste of this. Cut the pieces VERY small.
Ice cream sundae station (maybe) - most of the kids will go for this. Calculate a 1/2 cup of ice cream per person.
Coffee - I wouldn't make more than 16 servings. Thankfully this is one item you can make more of easily if you run out.
Juice boxes for the kids - calculate 2 juice boxes per kid. These tend to get wasted QUICKLY. You might consider investing in covered cups, with straws and serving punch.
Water - make sure you have ice both for adding into drinks (many people will want to ice their coffee) and for keeping food cold.
Beer - I'd calculate one beer per adult. With wine available more than half the women won't even have a beer but more than half of the men will probably have two. You know if you have a lot of alcohol drinkers in your group so you can adjust accordingly.
Wine - Figure 5 servings out of a standard bottle. Be sure that you provide cups that aren't too big. If you get the wine boxes (which I recommend) the number of servings will be on the label.

Plates are an important consideration. If you're going to buy disposable plates, they should be very sturdy and, considering the beans, leak proof. If you go with the platter sized plates, most adults will only make one trip through the food line and will probably take a little bit of each food. If you go with standard plates, about half of the adults will go back for seconds of their favorite foods. This tends to increase the amount of forks that get used because people forget and throw away their fork with their dirty plate (you'll need a minimum of 2 forks per person anyway because of the separate desserts) so that gets you up to 3 forks per person. If you get smaller plates, that almost guarantees that more plates will be used and more people will make a second trip. It's always a hard decision but I go for the larger platters and slightly less food on the buffet table, refilling or replacing serving platters as they empty.

Enjoy!
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cookie2 View Post

Your menu has a lot of variety in it which is good. If you run out of one thing, everyone will just eat something else. Not everyone is going to eat everything you are offering.

Hot dogs/buns - 1/2 serving per person (you might think about literally cutting them in half)
Hamburgers/buns - 1/2 serving per person (again cut them in half)
Country ribs (Western style ribs) - one or two ribs per person. Everyone may want a taste.
Corn relish - about a 1/4 cup per person
All the fixings - Get a couple of small bottles of each condiment instead of the larger bottles. More people will have access to the condiments so lines will move faster. The smaller bottles are easier to store. If one bottle gets contaminated or left in the sun too long, not all is lost.
Veggie tray - Depending on the size of the tray, one tray will feed 8 to 12 people but also remember you'll have so much other food. I'd figure 3 small trays.
Potato/macaroni salad - a scant 1/4 cup of each. Most people will eat less than 2 tablespoons.
Baked beans - also a scant 1/4 cup unless you provide a separate bowl in which case most people will take more then waste part of it.
Apple strudel - if the recipe serves 12 people, for instance, double that number and count on it serving at least 24
Cheese strudel - same as above
Italian wedding cake (cassada cake) - most people will take a taste of this. Cut the pieces VERY small.
Ice cream sundae station (maybe) - most of the kids will go for this. Calculate a 1/2 cup of ice cream per person.
Coffee - I wouldn't make more than 16 servings. Thankfully this is one item you can make more of easily if you run out.
Juice boxes for the kids - calculate 2 juice boxes per kid. These tend to get wasted QUICKLY. You might consider investing in covered cups, with straws and serving punch.
Water - make sure you have ice both for adding into drinks (many people will want to ice their coffee) and for keeping food cold.
Beer - I'd calculate one beer per adult. With wine available more than half the women won't even have a beer but more than half of the men will probably have two. You know if you have a lot of alcohol drinkers in your group so you can adjust accordingly.
Wine - Figure 5 servings out of a standard bottle. Be sure that you provide cups that aren't too big. If you get the wine boxes (which I recommend) the number of servings will be on the label.

Plates are an important consideration. If you're going to buy disposable plates, they should be very sturdy and, considering the beans, leak proof. If you go with the platter sized plates, most adults will only make one trip through the food line and will probably take a little bit of each food. If you go with standard plates, about half of the adults will go back for seconds of their favorite foods. This tends to increase the amount of forks that get used because people forget and throw away their fork with their dirty plate (you'll need a minimum of 2 forks per person anyway because of the separate desserts) so that gets you up to 3 forks per person. If you get smaller plates, that almost guarantees that more plates will be used and more people will make a second trip. It's always a hard decision but I go for the larger platters and slightly less food on the buffet table, refilling or replacing serving platters as they empty.

Enjoy!

THANK YOU!!!!! I appreciate all your great ideas!!!!!
post #5 of 5
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