Help with quantities

Joined May 6, 2010
Hello Everyone: I've been in this forum for a couple of months now; never participated though only read what you all post. I've been a Chef for a while now; i had my own restaurant for 7 years which I had to sell (with profit :)) because I became ill. Now I've started a catering business and I'm trying to learn as much as I can but my biggest problem has been quantities; I am cooking too much; I can't get the quantities right and I don't want to be short obviously, but I have lots of left overs. This is my question: If I have 50 ppl and 2 different meats how much of each meat should I cook? I ussually do 6oz per person but it seems too much. Any help will be greatly appreciate it.

Have a great day!


Joined Jul 28, 2010
hey, here is some quantities that always work for me:

Meats: dinner 8oz of meat combined. (approx. 1/2 chix breast and 4oz of brisket for example)

           lunch 5-6 oz of meat

Sides: Potatoes and pastas1 hotel pan gets you 25-30 ppl

Salads: 160oz bowl full of salad gets you 15-20 ppl

you should also take into consideration if your serving out of the buffet or self serve.  when you serve your food tends to stretch.  i usually go a tad over on my portions just to avoid any issues.

good luck
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Hard to tell you since you did not mention what they were. Example if it is Filet Mignon and top sirloin or roast pork Filet will be the majority. Over the years things and trends have changed. With our present economy they will all the  filet ,as they can't afford it home. Older people eat less  4ounces pp av. The trick is have some backup (not fully cooked but can be fully cooked if needed. This way no waste. Many years ago we used to put together menu's in such a way that I could almost predict to within 7 portions on a hundred guest what you would order. This was called pre =cost and abstract. It all depends on the wording and placement of item on the menu.. Young people in particular male eat more protein and starch, woman do not eat a lot of starch(weight awareness). If I were doing steak and poultry today 75-80% beef 20-25%poultry.Many people today eat fish for health purpose meat will be 60% fish 40% depending on what kind  a shrimp, or lobster type dish reverse it. I pride myself that in all my years in the volume catering business I never ran out.and I had little waste. Thank the Lord.

P/S  Someone above it states 160 ounces salad for 10 to 15 people ? this is way to much160 ounces is 10 Pounds..more then enough for 40 guest at least
Joined Jul 28, 2010
Wow. When I said a 160 oz bowl, that refers to the size of the salad bowl by volume.Not 10 lb of salad!!
Joined Sep 8, 2003
So, how many ounces of salad (greens only) would you expect to use for each first course serving?
Joined Sep 18, 2008
From "Food for Fifty", it appears that 160 ounces of greens will be enough for 50 people or about 3.2 ounces (weight) per person, in my experience, that works out to about 1 1/2 cups per person.

* Exported from MasterCook *

                         Basic Mixed Green Salad

Recipe By     :
Serving Size  : 50    Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Salad

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  7             pounds  Garden salad mix
  3             pounds  romaine lettuce
  1 1/4         quarts  french salad dressing -- or oil and vinegar or Italian dressing

Cut or tear lettuce and other greens into bite-size pieces. (Use sharp steel-bladed knife if greens are cut.)

Just before serving, toss lightly with dressing, or portion greens into individual salad bowls, 3 oz per bowl, and serve with choice of dressings.

  "Vegetable and Pasta Salad Recipes"
  "© 2004 by Prentice-Hall, Inc."
  "10 pounds"
                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 111 Calories; 10g Fat (80.7% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 345mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 2 Fat.

NOTES : Any combination of salad greens may be used. For contrast, mix dark greens with light, crisp with tender, and smooth leaves with curly. With pale iceberg lettuce, use dark green spinach, romaine, curly endive, or red-tipped leaf lettuce. See p. 465 for major types of salad greens.

If serving on a salad bar, place greens in a large bowl and offer choice of dressing and garnishes (see p. 464).


Hawaiian Tossed Salad. To 7 lb mixed greens, add sections from 8 grapefruit, 8 oranges, 4 avocados, and 1 fresh pineapple, cubed. Serve with Honey French Dressing (p. 522).

Salad Greens with Grapefruit. Place 3 oz greens in each bowl. Garnish each with 3 sections of pink grapefruit. Serve with Poppy Seed Dressing (p. 527) or French Dressing (p. 520-521).

Spinach Mushroom Salad. Use 10 lb fresh spinach (may be part lettuce), 4 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced, and 2 bunches green onions, sliced. Toss lightly with French Dressing (p. 520-521) just before serving. Sprinkle with cooked crumbled bacon if desired.

Spinach Salad. Use 4 lb lettuce and 6 lb fresh spinach, 2 bunches green onions, sliced, and 12 eggs, hard-cooked and sliced. To serve, toss lightly with French Dressing (p. 520-521) or Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette (p. 524) and portion into bowls. Sprinkle with bacon (1 lb) that has been diced, cooked until crisp, and drained.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Whoa!  We're still having trouble sorting out volume and weight.

The 160 oz bowl is 160 oz by volume, or 20 cups. 

We're looking at 13.333 servings per bowl if we use Pete's 1-1/2 cups per head, with the bowl filled to level.  Even if we accept the 1-1/2 cups that's going to vary deending on whether you over or underfill the bowl and how often you replace the greens because you don't want to leave 1/2" of soggy salad on the bottom of the bowl just hanging aroung looking glamorous.  Or, at least I don't think you do.  From experience I'd figure smaller portions, the bowl slightly underfilled so the salad can be mixed and tossed there, and throwing out the old lettuce before it got soggy -- at about fifteen servings per bowl.

I'm with Pete that you'll get around 4 dozen servings from 10 pounds of washed and torn greens -- it's a good answer if that's the question.

Hope this helps,

Last edited:
Joined Sep 18, 2008
Whoa!  We're still having trouble sorting out volume and weight.

The 160 oz bowl is 160 oz by volume, or 20 cups. 
Hope this helps,

Yup, the 160 ounce/20 cups (volume) bowl will hold somewhere in the vicinity of 64 ounces/4 pounds (weight), ignoring dressing and add-ins, that's "filled to the rim".

As BDL suggested, I'd probably figure 3 pounds qt a time in the bowl. Personally, I'd use three bowls, one on the buffet, one ready to go on the buffet (undressed and in the refer), and one being washed. Oops, was it buffet or plated? Either way, I'd still use three bowls.

The 3 pounds will probably equate to, oh say, 15 cups, so you will have 10-15 servings per bowl, depending on portion size (1 to 1 1/2 cups). I think the actual serving size would greatly depend on the final salad choice.
Joined May 5, 2010
There are many things that determine how much people eat at a buffet.

I am assuming that your caterings are almost always buffet.

Large quantity feeding is what I had done most of my career.

As a Banquet Chef it was my job to come as close as possible to feeding large groups without going overboard.

People eat with their eyes.

Buffet food is an assortment of different foods placed out for all to see and eat.

Portions should be kept small so people can sample everything on the buffet line.

2-4 oz. portions are not uncommon.

If you are offering 1 meat and 1 fish item (as an example) for 50 people buffet style, you could get away with making 30 of each item. If your experience with that has people eating more meat then fish, then you have to regulate from there. You have no idea what people will eat from your buffet.

I have found that the person who orders the food eats quite differently then the guest might

Placing the proteins at the end of the buffet line make people pile on the starches, the salads, and the vegetables first having little room on their plates for the rest. 

It works!

Also the weather has a lot to do with how much people eat.

On a rainy day they will eat more.

On a sun shiny day when they have been outside all day, they may eat less and drink more.

As was previously mentioned, the elderly and very young eat less and in many cases can even out your amounts.

As for salad, I have always used the equation: 1 head of lettuce feeds 6-7 people and I go from there.

Salad is a cheap enough item that you can have more on hand all cut up and ready to dress should you need to.
Joined May 20, 2009
If the situation allows, a carving station gives total control of protein ...'say when' evens out as above. It also gives the opportunity for explanations, recommendation of sauces, accompanients etc. and so comes across as service above and beyond but is actually about portion control.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
This may help based on years of doing it. (buffet)

1 head iceburg for 6 portions ./..1 Bag mescline mix per 60 guest(3 Pounder) /1 tomato per 3 guest(6x7 size)/ crouton 1 ounce pp

Vege .. 16 pounds per 100 guest./..entree   5- 6 oz per person...../roll 1 per person (it used to be 1 1/2 however woman do not eat them anymore ) / starch 4-6 ounces pp. ../  dressing and sauces  2 ounces pp../.deserts slices or pieces  men 1 1/2 pp  woman 1 pp. 3-4 ounce/  coffee 2 cups pp/   Hors d   if passed butler style  5-6 pp 45 minute to 1 hour cocktails before buffet..

These are meant to be averages . One must keep in mind if all men, or all woman or mixed. Time of day, weather and believe it or not the class of people, upscale eat less then lower or middle. Biggest changes I have seen over the years is today on a buffet it is prudent to add a fish entree, and a second veg.

Joined Jul 31, 2010
I have been a caterer for almost 20 years now anbd...

I if there are 2 meaqts for 50 people-I have my chef prepare, as if, 30 of each kind--so far so good!
Top Bottom