Learning how to calculate food portions for the type of event and the number of guests you have is one of the most difficult tasks in catering. You do not want to have too many leftovers since it is a waste of resources and you would not want people to go back to their homes hungry, as it gives a bad impression to your guests. Whether it is a birthday party, wedding reception, or a fundraising event, it usually gets trickier the moment you go through the list of menus trying to find out the type of foods you need and how much they cost. We formulated a budget guide that covers common catering situations to help you select the right portion sizes for your catered event.
- The Type of Event and Number of Guests
It is always important to start with the number of people who will be attending your event. Always remember to give the most accurate headcount as possible to compensate the number of people who may change their minds or fail to attend the event. Doing this eliminates extra expenses, last minute rushes, and too many leftovers after the event. The type of event influences the type of food being served as well as the price and quantities. Guests typically eat one serving at formal events while guests may go back for additional food at a casual event.
- The Duration of the Event
Another factor to consider when selecting portion sizes for your catered event is how long the event will last. A meeting that only lasts for 30 minutes will require fewer items than an event that takes a whole day. Casual events may require you to serve more food items on the menu for people to satisfy their hunger at different times of the day. With that in mind, you need to ensure your guests remain comfortable throughout the event or meeting by providing adequate food. You may be required to serve larger catering portion sizes of the available dishes to make that happen.
- Use the Same Size of Plates
The best way to control portion sizes is to serve on smaller plates or bowls that are similar in size. This prevents guests from serving more food than what they might eat from a buffet. You can achieve a beautiful presentation by using an attractive small plate to avoid serving portion sizes that look mean. Food can often appear appetizing and more exclusive when served in smaller portions, which makes it reason enough to include this feature for your catered event.
- Opt for Simple Dishes
Simple and hearty dishes can easily fill empty tummies without stretching your pockets. Rice dishes, pasta, curries, braised meats, and delicious stews always provide a homely taste that people can eat and enjoy. Furthermore, they are easier to prepare and serve, which makes them ideal for both formal and casual events. It is also important to stick to ingredients that are in season to avoid spending more on food. The type of cuisine also influences the portion sizes for your catered event. Heartier cuisines like Mexican or Italian can be prepared without as many sides and will fill guests up very quickly. Vegetarian dishes may require additional sides and a bit more volume per person.
- Consider Special Dietary Restrictions
Since you want all your guests to be happy and satisfied, you need to ensure everyone has something to eat. People who are allergic to certain foods or those who are watching their diet may not go with any meal you provide them during a catered event. Incorporating special dietary restrictions in your catered event skews your numbers on different food categories and helps you avoid too many leftovers. For instance, when preparing vegetarian meals, you will be saving money by eliminating seafood, meat and poultry courses. However, you will need to offset it by increasing the number of vegetable dishes while paying attention to dishes that include vegetable protein.
Adopting some of the above tips on how to select portion sizes for your catered event will ensure you do not spend too much money on food. This means that you will not have too many leftovers and all guests who attend the event will be satisfied since you prepared something for everyone. Lastly, always remember to give a good impression to your guests by offering beautiful food presentations. The kind of presentation you pull off will depend on whether you are having a buffet or serving plated food to your guests.