Catering Tips: How Much Food Is Enough?

Catering Tips: How Much Food Is Enough?

No matter what kind of event you need catered, whether it’s a business meeting or a family party, you count on your caterer to help plan the perfect meal. However, there’s much more to having a successful menu than choosing a crowd-pleasing meal.

One thing that can be tricky to figure out is exactly how much food to order. There’s nothing worse than running out of food before everyone has gotten their fill, but you also don’t want to be left with a ton of leftovers (which can be a costly mistake).

Since money is always an important factor, we’ve put together some tips to help give you an idea of how much food you’ll need, and you’ll be able to calculate a solid estimate.

Before you dive too deep, it’s important to get the basics figured. First, answer the following questions: What’s the occasion and what type of food would be great for said occasion? How many people are you expecting to attend (it’s always a good idea to have guests RSVP well in advance)? What time is your event (this can play a big part in choosing what type of food(s) you want to offer)? And finally: How long will the events last?

Once you have these answers figured out, you’ll be able to figure out what types of food–and how much food–you’ll need to ensure your event is a success. At this point, you can begin working with your caterer of choice to determine how much of each appetizer, entree, and desert you’ll need.


Sometimes appetizers are all you’ll need to ensure everyone is happy. If you’re planning a cocktail party, you won’t need an actual dinner. About 15 appetizers per person (give or take a few) should be sufficient if you’re going to have the appetizers dolled out to your patrons, though you might want to add a bit more per person if they’re going to be serving appetizers “buffet style.”

If you’re planning on a lunch event, about 3 appetizers per guest should do the trick (as long as you follow up with a light meal).

Similarly, if you’re planning a dinner, 3-6 appetizers should be plenty as long as you follow with a light meal.

To cut down on the number of appetizers needed, consider opting for a delicious & filling salad.


Most events take place during lunch and dinner than any other time, so we’ll focus on lunch next. Lunch is perfect for casual business meetups, training seminars, or family get-togethers. A nice, light lunch helps break up the day and keep everyone feeling upbeat and refreshed.

For appetizers, you should go with about 3 (give or take one), along with a nice 5-6oz entree. 2-3 sides should be adequate, especially if you include veggies and starches. Don’t forget the drinks! 1 or 2 beverages should be ample for most guests. Be sure to offer a variety, such as various sodas, tea, and water to keep everyone happy.


Whether you’re planning a dinner event for a business meeting, a dinner party, a wedding reception, or anything in between, it’s important to remember that over-delivery is crucial. You’ll want to ensure that you supply a delicious meal, plus appetizers and drinks for everyone to enjoy.

To start off, you’ll want to serve about 3-5 appetizers per person. After the appetizers, be sure to offer a soup or salad to get everyone ready for the main course.

For the main course, a 7-8 oz. offering along with 2-3 sides should do the trick. Vegetables and starches should do the trick.

People enjoy drinks with their dinner, so be prepared to offer 2-3 drinks per person. Beer & wine are always great, but you’ll want to have water, tea, and soda available as well.

One big difference between catering for lunch & dinner is that after dinner it’s a good idea to offer up some desert. Some guests won’t be up for much desert, while others may double down for second servings, so it’s a good idea to plan on 2 servings for each guest.

It’s important to take the advice of your catering company, but it’s also a good idea to have a rough estimate of the amount of food you’ll need beforehand so you can limit the amount of leftovers left at the end of of your event.

If you’re looking for reliable catering services in San Marcos, TX or the surrounding areas, we’d love to help! Contact us to discuss your event and we’ll help ensure it’s a great time for everyone.