How Much Food Should You Order For Your Event?

When it comes to planning an event, you have to be thorough about every single detail. You need to go through your list several times so you are confident you have everything covered before the big day. The same can be said if you have a catered event. Since you will be serving food to your guests, it is important that you meticulously check the plans so you know that your guests will be happy with the food you have prepared for them.

But what happens if you don’t know how to prepare a catered menu? How do you know when you’ve ordered too little or too much food? Not to mention, what types of food should you order? If these are things that bother you, it is important that you seek the help of a professional caterer so you can pick out the right items for your event.

How Much Food Should You Order For Your Event

Here are some tips that you can use to help you figure out how much food or drink you should order for your event:

The Basics

Before you start planning the menu for your event, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of event are you hosting?
  • How long will it last?
  • How many people will be attending?

The main reason why you need to answer these questions beforehand is so you already have a slight idea on how much food and drink you need to prepare for your event. If you are planning to host a small cocktail party for a business, you won’t really need a lot of food compared to an all-day marketing event. This will also give you an idea what type of food you should be ordering from your caterer so you can design your menu.

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Appetizers and Hors d’oeuvres

If you are hosting a simple event, serving hors d’oeuvres or appetizers can already be enough for the gathering. In fact, this is the usual type of food that people serve during cocktail gatherings. But it doesn’t mean it is not advisable to serve hors d’oeuvres on other longer events.

Here is a good guide to follow:

  • Cocktail Party: If you have a cocktail party, you can opt to order between 10 to 15 types of appetizers for every person you have invited. The number of dishes you order should also go higher if you opt to have a buffet style of service since people usually tend to eat more when they get their own food.
  • Mid Day Event: If you intend to have a light lunch along with your mid day event, you can opt for 1 to 3 appetizers per person since there will still be other items to follow after the first course.
  • Evening Dinner: On the other hand, if you plan to host a sit down dinner, pick out 3 to 5 appetizers per guest. You’ll also want to follow this with a light meal.
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Although breakfast events are considered unusual, it is something you can opt to do, especially if you are hosting a business event or an all-day training seminar. Here is what you should pick out:

  • Main Entree: Go for a single 5 oz. serving for every guest.
  • Side: People have different preferences. This is why you should look for at least two types of sides that people can pick out.
  • Beverages: Since you are hosting a breakfast event, you will need to serve coffee/tea and fruit juice to every guest.
  • Pastries: You can opt to serve pastries instead of a full breakfast. Pick out at least two pastry options for every guest.


As your training seminar progresses, you should offer lunch to your guests as a way for them to refresh during the long day. Here is a guide on the different items you should pick out:

  • Appetizer: Choose between 2 to 4 per guest
  • Main Entree: Another 5 oz entree should be served per person
  • Side: Choose 2 to 3 options for every guest. Make sure to choose different things. A good rule of thumb is at least one starchy meal and one vegetable dish.
  • Beverages: Again, serve coffee, soda, iced tea, and any other beverage you can choose.


Compared to the other types of event you pick out, you have to remember that a sit down dinner would generally require you to pick out a higher volume of food and drink.

  • Appetizer: Choose 3 to 5 per person
  • Starter: Provide either a soup or salad dish to every guest
  • Main Course: Serve 7 oz single serving for every guest
  • Side: Follow the same guide with a lunch event
  • Beverages: Replace coffee with beer or wine but make sure water or soda is available on the menu
  • Dessert: Make sure you order 2 servings of dessert for every guest
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If you are ready to pick out the items you wish to order for your upcoming event, it is important that you speak with your catering company for advice. Since they are knowledgeable of such things, they will be able to give you a professional advice on how you can keep your costs down and not worry about food wastage.

Ryan Davis is the owner of Argyle Catering the best company for catering Jefferson City, MO has to offer.