The right amount of food for your Buffet without over or under catering

One of the most common questions that we get asked as a caterer is “how much food do any to serve at our party?” The short answer is there is no hard or fast rule that says exactly how much food you should have. But you should consider the following checklist and some of our below recommendations that are a great guide to ensure you don’t under cater.

Firstly, there are some…..

Factors you should consider while planning your menu:

  • quantity of guests
  • age of guests
  • quantity of men VS women
  • are they big eaters?
  • theme/style of event
  • length of the event
  • time of day

Quantity of guests is pretty straightforward so let’s jump to the age of guests. As a generalisation, most kids 13yo+ tend to eat more than their mum or dad ( me & my brothers were no exception at that age!) Whereas children under 13. Typically allow half the quantity ( 2:1 child:adult portion)

How much food do I need for my Buffet event?

To ensure the right quantity of food is served over the right amount of time.
Where you are having a short lunch or dinner under 2 hours the quantities can be broken down into one main Buffet of the following:

  • 280g meat/protein/main dishes
  • Mixed 200g in total of sides broken down
    • 50g Potato, rice or pasta
    • 50g vegetables
    • 50g heavy salads
    • 30g Leafy Salads
  • Dinner Rolls

The above being the minimum recommendation.

There is also perfect additions to this Buffet style like:

  • 50g Seafood
    • Fresh Tiger prawns
    • Fresh Rock Oysters
    • Smoked/Roasted Salmon or another Fish
    • Lobster
  • 50g Fruit Platters
  • 50g Cheese Platters
  • 50g Meat Platters

Events like birthday parties, weddings and other exciting celebrations typically run the 3 to 4 hours. And with the extended time you should have more food. If you want just the one Buffet service best thing to do is to extend the above main Buffet with additions or have several courses throughout the event.

The following will cover adding additional courses, both prior to the main Buffet and after.

The perfect starters to any event are….

Grazing platters or canapés on arrival are great party starters.

If you set these up perfectly with the right quantity of food bill be enough to entertain the guests who arrived hungry (and let’s be honest when you going to a party. We all know this typically food, food and more…)

The ideal quantities to look at as a grazing station are:

  • 60g meat/protein Sliced
  • 20g dips ( we have 2 on our stations of 10g ea)
  • 100g grilled/fresh/pickled vegetables
  • 30g breads
  • 20g cheese

For canapés, it does vary quite a bit to the size of the canapé. Though if you aim for a total of 250g in total would be a great 1hr starter prior to the main Buffet.

Now to consider desserts with or without a cake

the following has considered with a celebratory cake

How much food do I need for dessert?

  • 20-30g choc-dipped strawberries
  • 80g mousse/jelly cups
  • 100g (2-4) mixed dessert canapes
  • 100g sliced tart/cupcakes/gateaux (this could be the celebratory cake)
  • 20g fruit platter
  • Chocolate fountain
    • 50g chocolate
    • 40g fruit – banana and strawberries are always the favourite
    • 10g caramels or similar
    • 10g marshmallows ( 2/p )
  • 60-80g ice cream (if ice cream as an option)

Buffet planning trips

  • consider not repeating the same items throughout each course. Ie: don’t have cheese as platter on arrival than cheese again with dessert
  • consider any food allergies all dietary requirements your guests may have. This doesn’t mean your whole menu should be based around these unless there is a large amount of guests with the same requirements
  • consider the weather in selecting your menu. It’s always recommended to have hot Buffet is for winter cold Buffet is for summer


P.S this is right out of my recipe book for the quantities we serve in our packages. If you loved this check out our Buffet menus now at

P.P.S if Buffets aren’t what your looking for heres a link to our full category of menus

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