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"Servings" chart..

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Does one exists???? I usually go to one website that helps but all I'm looking for is a full chart to help me determine the svgs per person and how many servings to prepare!! I know, its simple math but I still want something!
post #2 of 27
please see my post feedback "Your opinion please"
post #3 of 27

Rule of Thumb

My rule of thumb is based on the fact that people consume 1 1/2 lbs of food per day (that is, to maintain the same weight).

Given that formula for determinig serving sizes, I generally make 3 oz portions of protein (that's a perfect size for luncheons) and serve 5-6 oz for dinners (so for buffets with two entrees that's 3 oz of each protein) 1 oz salad (or one handful per guest), 1.5 oz grain/pasta, 2 oz vegetable, 2-3 oz dessert.

If you are also adding appetizers to the menu, formula is 5-6 bites for first two hours, 3 bites for each additional hour per person (that's my formula for coctail parties - less if you are serving main course) Those size 0 clients will only eat one hors d'oeuvres ever during a 4 hour reception!

Viola! That's just about one lb of food in one seating. Plentiful quantity. Add beverages and where necessary, bread and you're covered.

How that translates: a one pound container of mixed organic greens will serve 16-20 (esp if you are adding ingredients)
A one lb box of pasta will serve 10-12 guests
A lb of salmon feeds 5 guests
I can feed more than usual with 1 lb chicken breasts (my mother in law fed seven kids and taught me how to cut them in half and then tenders which yields amazing amount especially with a panko presentation)

If you use a scale, and start to weigh everything you do for one week, you can easily train your eye for portions. Now using a standard 9.5 - 10" plate, you'll see how much space each portion takes up.

Gratefullly, I have never have been short on parties... leftovers usually because I factor in for additional 10%. Adjust the formula when you think you might have "aggressive" eaters, athletes, teenage boys (that's a 2-adults formula -- no kidding) In time, your instinct will tell you which of your signature dishes always "sells out" no matter how much you make.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #4 of 27
Portioning is part of the art and science of catering. If there are hard and fast rules, they are so riddled with exceptions and irregularities that they come with an ironclad guarantee that whatever you're doing doesn't fit within them.

The smallest eaters are older people, women when men are present, children younger than high-school age, and so on.

Women in an all female gathering, eat more than in a mixed group. People in active occupations eat more than desk workers.

High school and college men will eat to impress. If the gathering is based around any physical activity -- even as spectators, they will eat AND drink more. And so on. If you're doing a tailgater, with a ton of filling apps -- a pound of steak per person is begging to run out.

If a man eats 1 portion -- a woman at a mixed event will eat about 70% of a portion, and at a hen event, about 90%. But not always. I used to take turns catering a once a month lunch for 8 to 12 women in the entertainment industry -- all of whom were always on a diet, except for that monthly lunch. Eat? Eat!!! About 1.75 servings per woman.

Plated events get a lower per person allowance than buffets, because chaffers must be kept full with fresh food. Family style -- which by the way is a very good thing to suggest -- a lot of fun for the guests, falls in between. "Silver service" is the smallest allowance per item, but usually involves a complicated menu.

Evenings usually mean more per person than days, but a day time buffet organized around an athletic activity -- whether spectator (tailgate party, for instance) or participant (hunt club, for instance) are the second biggest eaters -- tied with things like fire department dinners.

Church dinners -- big eaters.

Other charity dinners -- small eaters

Athletic team -- big eaters

At a mixed buffet:
A woman's portion of 4 oz, a man's 6 oz, before cooking.
A woman's serving of chicken is two pieces, counting the wings as half pieces, a man's is three.
A woman's serving of ground meat is 4 oz, a man's 6 oz
A petite steak for a woman is 6 oz, a small steak for a man is 10 oz. If you serve a 40 year old man an 8 oz steak, he'll say thanks and smile, but he'll feel deprived. A 12 oz steak is "more like it."
And so on

When food is served plated, there is no separate allowance for men or women -- you have to portion for a male reasonable eater. But you don't need much allowance for "seconds."

Some portion sizes are determined by the piece of food, particularly if bone is involved. For instance:
One 15 pound, whole, uncooked turkey will barely feed 12 people; while a 22 pound turkey will feed 20 easily.
One slab of spare ribs, withhout tips attached will feed 3 people, with tips about 3.5.
One slab of baby backs will feed 2.5 people.
One whole 8 oz trout per person.
Depending on the event, you can get 2 or 3 per person per bone of bone-in prime rib. You cannot get less than 3. However, you can get more than 3 if the same roast is boned out and the bones served separately. Don't ask why, you just can.
And so on.

Every one of the rules I wrote is riddled with exceptions -- just like I said on the top of the page.

The more you do this, the better sense you'll get of how to determine waste from raw and untrimmed, how much to allow as a cooked portion, what different types of sauces mean, what multiple courses mean, how to calculate shell on shellfish, and ... well there are hundreds of other variables.

I'm in no position to criticize because I don't know all the facts. Saffron's protein estimates seem very low to me, except as part of multiple course service -- for instance a "tasting" menus. But she may routinely provide a varied and satisfying group of sides, appetizers and specialty desserts which would change everything. Actually, no "but." I know "lots of little" is how she thinks. As I said, general rules aren't really helpful.

When you wandered in here, you hit a real treasure trove of people who can really help you with this. Chef Ed is especially knowledgeable about really large groups. Shroomgirl has the broadest knowledge base for catering I've every seen. In fact, I can't think of anyone who contributes to the catering questions who I'd say wasn't worth listening to closely.

Here are four rules that are always true:
People don't hire a caterer to run out of food.
People don't hire a caterer so their guests, too polite to take the last pieces, leave hungry
Better a little too much than a lot too much, but better a lot too much than even one serving too little.
Be prepared to package leftovers attractively for guests. That's a much better sign of success than "perfect" portioning.

Just a few thoughts,
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Wow!! Thank you guys! Yes, Shroomgirl is VERY HELPFUL TO ME!! :smiles: Trust me--I read and read and read and take in all the info you guys throw me!!
post #6 of 27
Aw, you guys.....:p

One of the things I started doing is boxing finger desserts with my labeled sticker for guests to take home....of course my contact info is on the logoed sticker......the host(ess) love having that surprise option.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #7 of 27
Great promo and advertising technique, Greatest advertising in the world word of mouth and good samples of your product . I am sure they are good. When they wake up next morning , they see and remember your name.
post #8 of 27
This is great info - and a great forum. I just began a job as a highschool hospitality/cooking teacher and catering will be a significant portion of how I bring money (for consumables and equipment) into the program and provide experience for the students. Problem is, I haven't catered more than a handful of events in my life and only one in the last 7 years or so. I have a feeling this forum will become a lifesaver for me.

To tag a question on here (hope that is okay)- I'm bidding on a turkey dinner for 120 today - this will be a community event - I'm guessing primarily middle aged women but I'm not positive, might be a 50/50 split male/female. Should I have about 12 ounces of turkey per person with maybe 3-4 roasted potatoes per person?

I may ask several questions on this first job just to make sure I don't mess up our first one :).
post #9 of 27
!2 ounces much to much, what about vege, stuffing, cran sauce. What is budget. You just cant ask any of us questions like this unless you include all pertinent info. It says dinner what time day? etc. Also Turkey Dinner is mashed potato traditionaly not roast.
post #10 of 27
If your 12 oz turkey allowance is taken from a 14 lb whole bird, it's a little too high, but not by that much. You're thinking Thanksgiving portions which includes couch comas and leftovers. Probably not what the sponsors of your affair want. 8 oz would be thrifty, 10 oz (5/8) generous and safe. One thing about doing this much turkey, you'll need a plan for carving. Don't wait til the last minute to figure it out. Allow significant resting time for the turkey while still whole; at least one person very skilled with a very sharp knife, and plenty of room. You'll also need a plan for bringing the turkey out if the affair is not plated. Otherwise there will be big hang-ups in the line as people pick through the turkey looking for the white meat -- which will run out fast.

120 psn x 10 oz/psn = 1200 oz ; 1200 oz /16 oz/lb = ~71lb. 71 lb/14lbturkey = ~ 5 whole turkeys.

Returning to slicing the turkeys. I can break and neatly slice a whole 14 lb turkey in less than 10 minutes. Can you? No. Don't let this be a bottleneck. Plan ahead or get whole breasts or rolls.

Lager whole birds will return a higher percentage of meat and a lower proportion of waste -- adjust accordingly.

Middle aged women eat less per woman in a mixed group than they do in a group comprised primarily of middle aged women. There's no special rule for them like there would be for children, geriatrics or athletes.

If the turkey's rolled, boned breast, or even bone-in breast 12 oz is signficantly too much. 8 oz on the bone-in breast, and 7 oz rolled are generous. This allows for waste, a 5 oz serving portion, and a fair return for seconds.

Whole breasts, bone-in or out are by far the best and easiest way to handle a group this size. "Turkey roll" is easy, but there are quality issues.

I highly recommend brining your birds before serving. You'll lose less to waste, the turkey won't overcook as easily; the turkey will handle a long rest better; the turkey won't serve as dry; the turkey will taste better. Downside: You've got to start the night before.

As a meal, turkey is so garniture intensive, you may end up with leftovers. If you end up with an entire whole bird -- that's not a problem.

Regarding the amount of potatoes. That kind of depends on the size of the potato. What did you have in mind? What other garniture?

post #11 of 27
Standard rule of thumb for caterers used to be 1 pound of raw turkey equals 1 cooked portion. Therefore figuring dark and white meat 1 -25 pound bird is 25 portions. Veges 2 1/2 ounces per.p/ / potato 3 1/2 -4 ounces per.p.// gravy 2 oz. per. p.//stuffing 3 oz per.p//cranberry 1 to 1 1/2 per. p. Now take your per pound price on these items, divide by size of portion, this will give you cost per portion for each item. Add all together and it will give you price per plate.

*Your geo. location also has bearing on price. Ex. things cost more in New York then in Deluth Mn. Hopes this helps a little
post #12 of 27
Sorry, I had not met with the organizers yet to really determine what they were looking for in a menu so I didn't really have much more info to give.

What we have determined is:

Squash soup
Turkey + gravy
Roasted rosemary potatoes (perhaps we should do mashed??)
Roasted autumn vegetables (parsnip, carrots, squash etc...)
Standard mixed veg (corn/carrot/pea)
Wild rice and cranberry stuffing
Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie

The food will be served family style to about 130 women.

It will be all women, but they seemed to think they ate an aweful lot. Apparently last year several tables (15 people or so) got no food at all - it was gone before they got any. These are rural folks with healthy appetites and not a lot of diets.

Considering that they ran out of food last year making it something of a disaster, I would rather over-prep than under prep. The other fact is that profit is not really a motivation - it's experience for the students. Whatever profit we make is gravy.

I have a lot of employees (the students) for preparing things ahead of time. I'm pretty fast with a turkey personally (used to spend a few days a week doing nothing but). It's really all about organizing the timing and ideas on holding and whatnot.

I really appreciate the feedback - as I said I am new to catering and working as a teacher - not a professional caterer so there are certain difficulties involved.
post #13 of 27
A few thoughts,

You're way overloaded on squashes -- especially when you include the pumpkin. It's either a sort of "Squash Festival" theme, or you should rethink.

Mashed potatoes aren't absolutely necessary as an accompaniment for turkey, but if gravy is part of the act ... yes, you should probably switch from roasted potatoes. You may want to throw some yams in your roasted vegetables instead of squash, and kill two birds with one stone.

Worth saying again if you're going to puruse catering: In an all or nearly all female groups, women of nearly any age and occupation eat as much, or more, than men of similar ages and occupations. The exception is pre-wedding and wedding when strict dieting and ostentatious displays of small eating become the rule. Women below middle age, in a mixed group, eat less, but that averages out with the presence of men. Women on their own, fuhgeddabouddid. This is part of the art and science of portioning.

You still haven't said if you're using whole turkeys or some cut down version. The implication seems to be wholes. If so, considering the bad experience last year, allow at least one extra 15 pound turkey.

Since you're the teacher, I suggest a couple of flourishes both in the underlying technique and the finish. Once again, I strongly suggest brining. It's enormously helpful for any whole turkey -- but when cooking a bunch it's more helpful yet as it really enlarges the window between done and dry. More specifically, the range widens from about 5 degrees to almost 15. On top of that, the turkey will be better.

The exceptions to the brining recommendation are "enhanced" and kosher turkeys. To some extent both of those are pre-brined. IMO, "enhanced" are to be avoided. Kosher birds are usually very good indeed; and act, pretty much, like brined.

Consider a long rest, with the turkeys well wrapped in cling wrap or foil, set in appropriately sized insulated, drink coolers -- with the coolers' extra space filled with wadded paper. In other words, the DIY equivalent of a "Cambro." The long rest will not only improve the meat, but make the carving process significantly less hectic.

You may already know how to carve multiple turkeys for platter or chaffer service. If not, carve as follows:

Remove the legs, thighs and wings. Separate the legs from the thighs. Reserve the thighs and platter the legs, or reserve them separately. Cut the wings at the joint between "drumette" and the upper wing. Platter with the legs, alone, or reserve.

Remove the bone from the thigh, and carve the meat as neatly as possible.

Carve the breast as follows: Remove the breast from the carcass, in two complete half breasts. Do it one side at a time, by:

First, run a pointed knife along the keel bone, splitting the breast.

Second, ease the knife along the ribs of one half breast, until you have enough room to get your fingers in the space.

Third, use your hand to ease the breast off the rib cage, while using the knife to free the breast from the wish bone and any other area where it might stick to the carcass.

Fourth, use the knife to cut the skin at the back to release it completely.

Fifth, repeat for the other side.

To complete the carving:

Lay the breasts flat with the skin up.

Carve the breasts in 3/8" slices, so there is a 3/8" thick band of skin on each slice.

Shingle the slices on the platter or in the chaffer.

Hope this helps,
post #14 of 27
Fantastic stuff, thanks so much.

Agree about the squashes - noticed that as I typed it out. I think I'll keep the squash soup, leave out the squash in the roasted veggies, and switch the taters to mashed. (they don't mind such changes I'm sure - they are getting a good price on this stuff :)

Again, I appreciate any and all advie so much - I'm a pretty good cook with training, but it's been a while plus catering has many different challenges.

I'm wondering about timing. The turkeys can be done...how long in advance? 2 days okay? The roasted Veg will be quick and can be done on the same day I figure. The mashers the day before. The pies 3 days before and heated...

In general, any advice on my timing/reheating/holding? Chaffing dishes useful (for our sake to keep warm while we set up as opposed to using for service)?
post #15 of 27
Mashed in steamtable pans in chaffers dished into bowls at service time

Veges on pam coated sheet pan in oven before service(pre cooked that morning)if you put in chaffer they will get to soggy.

Turkey sliced white and dark in 2 inch pans with turkey stock over it then a clean kitchen cotton towel on top of that saturated in stock ,it will stay moist. heat in oven 275-300 degrees or you can hold in chaffer.

Soup ,heat on stove then set up pans of water on stove put soup in smaller pots and keep warm in water

Do you have cups for soup dont use bowls ;) 6 ounces per p.

Bone out all turkeys day before wrap well in plastic wrap.

Day of take everything out of fridge at least 2 hours before going into chaffers or oven . Everything gets hot from room temp, not fridge temp..

As BDL suggest bring extra, I always figure 10% on most things, add it into your cost as so it is covered in your selling price.(also food for staff)

Any other questions? simply ask
post #16 of 27
rolls.....lots and lots of rolls. There are good ones that are inexpensive to make. Check out Paul Prudhomme's Mama's rolls.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #17 of 27
Thanks again for lots of great advice. I'll have to pour through it when I get a few minutes to devote.

**** of a business starting a cooking program up - it's sort of equal parts opening a restaurant (they need my budget this week - a few weeks after getting the job - to convert a room with 2 fridges and 2 stoves and really nothing else into the best kitchen I can create with $20,000), part starting a catering business (have a 60 person and two 150 range lined up at the moment - all with basically no equipment) and part classroom teacher with all the marking, lesson planning, calling home to parents of truant kids etc... that goes along with that. That's why it's amazing to find some advice from seasoned pros here.
post #18 of 27
Lay out your buffet with starches and veg first, then proteins. Guests will fill their plate up before they get to the main.
post #19 of 27

Green Salad portions

I am looking for a way to figure out how to get enough ingredients for green salad. I have been asked to provide the salad for a very simple dinner for our church. We are planning for a maximum of 300 guests. The menu consists of 2 or 3 soup varieties as a main dish with dinner rolls and green salad. Pie and ice cream will be served for desert.

Since I am in charge of providing the salad (others have been assigned the other menu items) I need to know the breakdown quantity of lettuce, tomatoes, onion slices, croutons, and dressing per serving. We are going to purchase the ingredients at a certain club warehouse store ;) The lettuce is pre-chopped in 48oz bags. We will slice the tomatoes and onions. The croutons are in 24oz bags. The dressings are in 1 gallon containers. We would like to serve 2 varieties - ranch and Italian.

Can you please help me with how much to buy to have enough for salads for 300 servings? Thank you.
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
post #20 of 27
First Question. What size salad plate? I would not use onion as a lot of people will not eat it because it remains on their breath especially woman in a group. I would use grated carrot and shredded red cabbage instead.

Tomatoes figuring 6x7 size 6 wedges per tomato
Iceburg lettuce 5 persons per head(med)
Already chopped ? depending size plate but approx 3 ounce or 16 per bag
Dressing Thin 2 ounces per Thick 2 1/2 ounces per since they eat only one figure 2 1/4 ave.
croutons dep on size and brand 6 per salad(count how many in first bag)
Carrots 12-14 large shredded
red cabbage 5 large shredded

I would suggest putting dressing in souffle cups ,simply because if you let them help themselves they will waste and eat a lot more
Ranch dressing can be cut with a little water as commercial dressing is thicker then retail one.
Hope all this helps you
post #21 of 27

Salad Portions

We have what is labeled "12oz serving bowl" for the salads.

If I understand you correctly, you are estimating the lettuce to be 3oz per serving. We have found a salad mix which comprises of chopped iceberg lettuce, shredded red cabbage and shredded carrots. This is a 3 lb bag of salad mix.

We have decided not to include the onion per your suggestion. Thank you.

How much water do you recommend using to cut the dressing?
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
post #22 of 27
Since I dont know brand or thickness of dressing hard to tell you, you play it by your own judgement not to thin, not to thick.
As far as 12 ounce bowl thats ok but 3 ounces of salad is fine, wedge of tomato on both sides greens in middle, carrot and cabbage on top you could even eliminate 1 tomato wedge and put slice of cuke.(cheaper). You need to add more carrot and cabbage as in bag they hardly put any.
3lbbag=48ounces divided by 3 ounces==16 portions per bag .You need 20 bags this should be enough.
You are there to supply a nice ladies lunch not stuffing them.
Dont forget butter pat or margarine for the roll. Small soft roll 1 to 1 1/4 per person average .
post #23 of 27

Salad Portions

Dressing Sam's Club - Bakers & Chefs Ranch Dressing - 1gal
This is the brand of dressing we have selected. I am not sure what the thickness is.

Croutons Sam's Club - Chatham Village Garlic & Butter Croutons-32 oz bag
This is the size of croutons. I apologize, but I guessed wrong on the weight of the bag in my original post.

Tomatoes Sam's Club - Green Stripe Grape Tomatoes - 2 lb. container
This is an option we have considered for tomatoes. No prep necessary.
(forgive me for linking to a retail outlet, but I could not think of another way to describe these for you)

I understand what you mean about the carrots and cabbage in the salad mix, but we don't anticipate this being an issue (i.e., I doubt anyone will complain about the lack of carrots in the salad).

Someone else is providing the rolls but I will be sure to remind them about the butter.

Keep in mind, this is a free dinner. I am not a professional caterer (although I LOVE cooking - even for large groups). Our church asked for volunteers to help with the food service. I volunteered. The church is purchasing all ingredients, however I do not want to be wasteful so I decided to ask the extremely knowledgeable and helpful folks at Chef Talk for advise, and you have been excellent.

Thank you.
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
post #24 of 27
All of your product purchases are fine. Tomatoes ,no labor very good. Try and count or estimate how many tomatoes in package so you can figure how much to purchase. Glad I could help, wish you luck and let us know how everything turned out.
Remember as I tell everyone To be a good caterer "Always expect the unexpected""":lips:
post #25 of 27

Today we're going to purchase the ingredients. The dinner is 6:00 this evening. We are showing up at the church at 4:00 to prep the salad.

I'll let you know how it all works out.

Thank you.
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
post #26 of 27
I just got home. It's 9:00. I am exhausted. And all I did was salad.

Ok, we WAY over estimated on ingredients. But to be fair, we only had 1/2 the guests we estimated. We used all of 10 lbs of salad mix of the 50 lbs we purchased. We used aproximately the same ratio on each of the ingredients, only about 1/5 the amount was used, with the exception of the dressing which much of it (about 1/2) had to be thrown out because it was put in dishes.

Now I need to explain that the general consensus was to serve the salad buffet style (along with the other dishes). So we placed 2 very large serving bowls out and filled them with the salad mix. We set out 6 much smaller bowls - 3 on each side of the table. Each of the three bowls had the 3 varieties of dressing per side (thous. Island/ranch/italian on each side). We placed 3 smaller bowls in the middle and filled them with the croutons. We set the tomatoes aside in a medium bowl. So the presentation looked good.

Keeping all the bowls filled was very easy. It was actually a low maintenance serving table.

I just wish that I could have been a little closer in our food estimates.

At least we did not run out!
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said, “is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.” --From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
post #27 of 27
I just wish that I could have been a little closer in our food estimates

How come only 1/2 showed up. I cant believe they did not eat more salad, here they would have eaten at least 1/2 of it. Buffet style, woman will eat less because they do not want other woman thinking they are eating to much. Men do not care.
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