Buffet Portion Size

Joined Jan 21, 2009
Dear All,
I'm new to the position of "Ex. Chef" and i need to know if possible the proper portion size of all the items "meat, poultry, fish, pasta, rice, vegetable" for each guest to be considered when i make a buffet menu??
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Not to sound trite, but it depends on your demographic, location, budget of guests, menu selections.....a lot goes into the formula.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
 Years ago we did what was called a menu pre-cost and abstract. Where we could predict what guest were going to order off a given menu. This is not as difficult as predicting a buffet.. With me , its all based on past experiences, and heed what mushroom girl points out. Weather, time of day, mix of crowd, location, social status of crowd also has a large say in this procedure. Yo will never get it on the button, but you can get it close.
Joined Apr 1, 2011
im seem to have fallen in the same boat in planning a buffet menu, is there set portion sizes when planning a menu?
Joined May 5, 2010
Since buffets are usually all you can eat, I have always taken the position that the portions should be small enough so that the guest can take a sampling of everything should they choose to do so. For proteins, I keep them at 1-2 oz but for starches and veggies that makes no difference. IMHO
Joined Apr 3, 2010
A big error a lot of places make is estimating the total consumption. Example  Lets say an average portion of potato salad is 5 ounces and an average broiled fish is 7, and a roll with butter is 1 1/2 ,and a portion of beef 6 , then  dessert 5-7.

     Well if you add all up. If you add all up you have ave 24 ounces ,Thats a pound and a half of food per person. Much to much. Therefore a buffett should always be computed at much smaller portions or peices per person. If not your overall cost will be off the walls as well as your leftovers.
Joined Sep 22, 2014
I have come to learn when working with clients that want a buffet that I ensure the client understands that it is not an 'all you can eat' buffet.  You need to have predetermined amounts of food.  

Typically 5 - 7 oz. of protein / 'x' amount of vegetable / guest / 'x' amount of starch (either a scoop of rice or potato, etc) and if there are salads on the buffet line, then guests can help themselves. (protein portion depends on the other dishes on the buffet line)

I always have staff manning / plating the protein and starch for the guest - it manages portion control and keeps uncle Bob from taking 4 guests portions.  

As the caterer, we typically set up the buffet line so that we are the first to take the plate and then place the portion of protein and starch and at times the veggie and then hand the plate back to the guest to move down the line.  This also speeds up the line (you can easily mirror this as well for even faster service).

If the client wants two options for protein / starch...again, we work w/ client to advise that guests will likely want to try both and determine a portion size for their budget.

Things to consider w/ two proteins...is it an option of A or B (Chicken or Beef) or does the client get both if they want.  What if some guests don't want chicken and all beef?  Budget w/ a % of guests in mind (have extra portions just in case and include in your costing)

Work out the numbers / ounces / budget w/ client so that there is a clear understanding of what is being offered.  Put it in writing to manage everyone's expectations.  Ensure your staff manning the buffet line understand the offering as well and role play a couple of scenarios w/ them if a guests asks for more than their share... 

We always welcome guests back for more once the line is complete. 

This has worked well for us for many of the wedding caterings w/ a buffet line.  I learned the hard way :)
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