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Catering Tips: How Much Food to Order

how much food to order for catering

What type of event are you planning? Is it a holiday brunch? What about a wedding? We have been offering catering services for over two decades, and we can handle anything you’re planning. However, regardless of our ability, there are likely questions and concerns you might have, especially around food costs and amounts. While we would typically tell you to let us worry about the specifics and to give us a budget and we’ll make it work, we understand that you probably want more information than that. Therefore, there are four factors that we consider when determining the amount of food we need and the costs for an event.


The main thing that contributes to catering costs is headcount. The more mouths we have to feed, the higher the budget needs to be. Although, sometimes headcounts can be deceiving because they do not account for the type of food being served or even the people who are doing the eating. For example, hors d’oeuvres are less expensive than the main course dishes. Also, children and the elderly rarely eat as much as other adults. Therefore, while a headcount is an excellent place to start, it is definitely not the only thing to consider when calculating costs and amounts.


Another factor to consider is the duration of the event. Do you have a luncheon that is only expected to last an hour or two at the most? Or, are you sponsoring an all-day fundraiser? The longer an event lasts, the more food we will need to serve. Also, all-day events will inevitably cost more not only because of food prices but also the cost of service. Therefore, when considering the budget for catering, it is wise to base costs not only on food but on the length of the event itself.

Event Type

The type of event will also weigh heavily on the overall costs associated with the catering. For example, an evening function that is only offering appetizers will be less expensive than a two-hour dinner party. Therefore, if you are on a tight budget, it is wise to schedule functions around less costly meals, such as breakfast, brunch or lunch. Get inspiration for your meal plan by viewing our catering menus.

Estimated Amounts

Last, a significant factor in figuring a catering budget is the estimation. The caterer and the client must determine some basic parameters to determine the appropriate amount of food with limited waste. There are several industry-standard estimations for different event types.

  • Breakfast: You can usually count on serving one main entree, two sides and two beverages per person. Also, if pastries are served, you can expect two per guest.
  • Lunch: Plan on one main entree with two or three sides, including dessert. Beverages options can include water, pop and beer.
  • Dinner: You can offer hors d’oeuvres – three to five per guest – along with soup, salad and bread. Each guest will likely have one entree with two or three sides. You should always provide water along with a variety of other beverage options.

When it comes to any catering function, you should plan on serving some form of appetizer. If being served as the only food for the service, then you can assume people will eat 10 to 15 pieces. However, if being served before a meal, then you can figure on three to five pieces. If being served after a meal, then plan on one to three pieces.

We Can Help

We, here at Chef Raymone, understand the importance of budgeting and planning, which is why we ensure our clients that no one at their party will go hungry. As a catering company with over two decades under our belt, we know how to plan and prepare for events of all sizes. If you are looking for a caterer for your next function, then contact one of our representatives at (586) 465-0299.


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