Successfully catered events require planning and some attention to detail beforehand. When it comes to food, you can quickly figure the amount required per person to make sure there will be enough for all the guests. A few moments of forethought can reduce overall spending and food waste without sacrificing the requests of the client or the satisfaction of the attendees.

Step 1.

Speak with the client or review the guest list for an accurate total of people expected. Ask for specifics about individual dietary needs or food requests. Find out how many children age 10 and younger will attend.

Step 2.

Calculate five appetizers per adult per hour for the first two hours of the event. Reduce the number to three per hour for children. For example, a catering event with 20 adults and 10 children would require a minimum of 130 individual appetizers per hour for the first two hours, for a total of 260 pieces.

Step 3.

Figure on a 1-lb. entree serving per adult and a 1/2-lb. portion per child. This entree weight total includes a 4- to 6-oz. protein serving and all the side dishes. Condiments like sauces, dressings and salsas are not factored into this weight.

Step 4.

Multiply the weight by the number of guests of each age group. Increase the total weight by 20 percent if no appetizers are being served prior to the entree.

Step 5.

Plan for 4 to 6 oz. of dessert per adult guest and 2 to 4 oz. per child. Use the higher end of the weight range for each guest if there was no appetizer course served. Multiply the estimated serving weight per person by the total number of each age group to get a dessert weight total.


Break the total dessert weight into several 1- or 2-oz. servings so each guest is able to try different desserts.