Frugal Living » Cooking for a Crowd- How Much is Enough?

Cooking for a Crowd- How Much is Enough?

fb iconpinterest iconpinterest iconlinkedin iconbuffer icon

Creating a buffet-style meal for a large family gathering is a great way to celebrate any occasion, graduations, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, family reunions, and more. It can overwhelming trying to figure out just how much food you’ll need per person when you’re cooking for a crowd.

Cooking for a Crowd Guidelines

For individual meats, fish, poultry:

  • 5 – 6 ounces per person
  • If the cuts of meat have bones in them, figure on 8 oz per person

Meat Serving Sizes

For multiple meat meals and buffets (such as deli trays):

  • 3 – 5 ounces per person

For pasta dishes:

  • A pound will serve 4 – 6 people
  • 2 oz for a side dish, per person
  • 3 oz for a first course, per person
  • 4 oz for a main dish, per person

Spaghetti Salad

For Vegetables:

  • If figuring a premixed salad, estimate one handful per person.
  • One head of lettuce will feed approximately 5 people, 4 medium heads will serve 15-20.
  • Other Vegetables- 4 oz per person


For appetizers:

  • Estimate about 8 items in total per person.
  • Make 2-4 of each item per person, keeping in mind that everyone may not take all of the items.

For desserts:

  • 1 Slice of cake, tart or pastry
  • 4 oz pudding/mousse
  • 5 oz ice creamCalculate one full portion of dessert per person.
  • For multiple desserts, people tend to sample smaller portions of each item.

Group Desserts

Keep in mind that the more food choices you offer, the smaller the serving sizes will be.

Some worthwhile tips:

  • When creating trays of cold-cuts of meats and cheeses, make smaller trays. This is easier to store in the fridge, easier to replace on the table, take up less room, and also look a bit classier than refilling the large tray.
  • If there are several desserts to choose from, set up a separate dessert table. This makes it easier to replenish the desserts, but also for people to “graze” without wandering down the buffet line with those still trying to eat lunch/dinner.
  • Be sure to keep cold foods COLD and hot foods HOT to avoid potential food poisoning. It’s considerably easier to keep smaller dishes warm (or cold) as needed and refill.
  • Chafing dishes can be purchased very inexpensively and reused multiple times. (Although you’ll need new sterno!). If the party is very informal, small kiddie pools filled with ice work lovely for drinks and various salad dishes.


  • Disposable tableware, plastic ware, and cups can save a considerable amount of clean-up time, allowing you more chance to enjoy your guests


View More Frugal Living Ideas

2 thoughts on “Cooking for a Crowd- How Much is Enough?”

  1. What are all the vegetables that are on the cabobs shown on front page? Want to make those for my bestie?

    • Carrots, radish, broccoli, yukon gold potato slices, red bell pepper, onion, repeat.

      Making vegetable kabobs on the grill is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy a variety of grilled vegetables. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

      Choose your vegetables: Select a variety of vegetables that are suitable for grilling. Some popular options include bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms, and eggplant. Feel free to add any other vegetables you enjoy.

      Prepare the vegetables: Wash the vegetables thoroughly and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Keep in mind that some vegetables, like onions and peppers, work well when cut into larger chunks, while others, like cherry tomatoes, are better left whole.

      Marinate (optional): If you’d like to add some extra flavor to your vegetable kabobs, consider marinating them. You can use a simple marinade made with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, herbs like rosemary or thyme, salt, and pepper. Toss the vegetables in the marinade and let them sit for about 15-30 minutes to absorb the flavors.

      Preheat the grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. This will ensure that the vegetables cook evenly and develop those desirable grill marks.

      If you don’t want grill marks or are afraid they’ll burn you can use foil under the kabobs.

      Skewer the vegetables: Thread the vegetable pieces onto skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 20 minutes beforehand to prevent them from burning on the grill. Alternate the vegetables on the skewers to create a colorful and appetizing presentation.

      Grill the kabobs: Place the vegetable kabobs on the preheated grill. Cook them for about 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. Keep an eye on them to prevent excessive charring or burning. The vegetables should be tender and slightly charred when done.

      Serve and enjoy: Once the kabobs are cooked to your liking, remove them from the grill. Carefully slide the grilled vegetables off the skewers onto a serving platter. Garnish with fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, or a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired. Vegetable kabobs make a great side dish or can be enjoyed as a main course alongside grilled meat or tofu.

      Remember to exercise caution when handling hot skewers and grilling equipment. Enjoy your flavorful and nutritious vegetable kabobs straight off the grill!

      Note: You can also use a grilling basket or grill pan if you prefer not to skewer the vegetables. Simply toss the vegetables in oil and seasoning, and cook them in the basket or grill pan on the preheated grill.


Leave a Comment