Event Planning

Ultimate Guide: How To Prepare Food Portions For Events

Fried Food in buffet tray and buffet set up

Image Source From: Nick’s Of Clinton

Intro: Food Preparation for Event= Headache?

Struggling with food preparation for event? Don’t worry. This article offers a clear step-by-step guide for event food preparation, whether it’s corporate or private. At the article’s conclusion, you should grasp a clearer understanding, ensuring your catering proceeds smoothly.
Ready for the adventure? Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Calculate The Number of Guests

To kick off the process of determining food quantities for a catered event, start by pinning down the number of attendees through RSVPs, complete with a specified response cutoff. Even if RSVPs can lead to adjustments in attendance, they’re still a valuable tool for projecting food needs. If you’re handling catering for someone else’s event, encourage them to establish an RSVP deadline for an accurate headcount.

Furthermore, having a clear idea of the guest count enables you to estimate bulk portions, effectively preventing post-event food wastage and unnecessary expenses. It’s advisable to collect this information around 1 week prior to the event (depends on your caterer’s T&C and requirements) , allowing ample time for well-thought-out planning.

In the context of sit-down meals, a single portion per guest generally suffices; however, buffet scenarios are slightly different, demanding larger quantities due to self-service habits and the tendency to indulge.

When deciding on appetizers, main courses, desserts, and beverages, you can then calculate the necessary quantities to ensure a well-stocked selection and avoid any shortages. Despite potential fluctuations, RSVPs remain a dependable approach for estimating your food requirements.

Step 2: Prepare More Food if Having Buffet Catering

Consider a casual birthday party with appetizer trays, versus a sit-down dinner typical of a wedding reception. Typically, at formal sit-down affairs, guests consume just one serving per food type; however, informal gatherings may lead to seconds. Thus, it’s better to prepare more food as you don’t wish your guests is not enjoying the food that you prepared.

Moreover, don’t hesitate to consult your caterer for a well-informed estimate. Drawing from their experience, they can provide valuable guidance, ensuring your event’s culinary success.

Step 3: The Event’s Time

Familiarize yourself with the event’s timing to facilitate accurate food preparation estimates, whether handled by your caterer or yourself. Engage in a discussion about the function’s date and time with the host, as these factors influence required food quantities. An evening event, for instance, won’t demand as much food as an all-day affair.

Be proactive in providing a surplus of food for mealtime events like breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as guests anticipate full meals. Conversely, for off-peak times such as mid-afternoon or evening, smaller snack-sized portions are typically adequate.

Step 4: What Type of Cuisine is Served?

Cuisine type influences guest satisfaction. Vegetarian dishes necessitate larger portions, like a substantial salad in an all-vegetarian meal. In contrast, carbohydrate-rich options like Malay or Chinese cuisine quickly satisfy, reducing the need for extensive side dishes.

Furthermore, it’s imperative to take guest culture into account. For example, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, certain Christian denominations, and Islam necessitate handwashing before and after meals.

Info From: Wikipedia
Consequently, it’s essential to provide handwashing facilities to enhance guest comfort during mealtime.

Step 5: Always have Extra Food to Get Ready

Should concerns arise about potential food shortages at the main event, consider ordering supplementary options like salad, potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread. These economical choices not only satiate but also serve as cost-effective backup provisions.

Keep in mind, there’s no need to fret about food depletion. Equipping yourself with a selection of budget-friendly side dishes or snacks should provide ample assurance.

Step 6: Estimating Food Portions Per Person


Pro Tip 1:

For non-alcoholic beverages like juice, soda, coffee, tea or water, allocate 2 drinks per person in the opening hour, followed by 1 drink per hour afterward. With alcohol, ensure enough for 1 drink per guest each hour.

Pro Tip 2:

While an array of drink choices isn’t essential, offer a modest variety: water, soda, juice for non-alcoholic options, and wine, beer, and select cocktails for alcoholic choices.

Image Source From: Cavb.org

Pro Tip 3:

For children’s events, consider juice boxes, water, chocolate milk, or caffeine-free sodas.

Image Source From: Eats Amazing


Pro Tip 4: Sit Down Meal is Served Later

When serving appetisers pre-meal, individuals usually consume around 2-3 per hour. For bite-sized snacks, equating one serving to one bite, estimate the hourly consumption per person. Multiply this by the attendee count and event duration to approximate the total appetizers required.

Example: 25 guests x 3 appetisers x 2 hours before event = 150 pieces

Pro Tip 5: Sit Down Meal is Not Provided

For non-sit-down meals like breakfast, lunch, or dinner, ensure ample finger foods, aiming for a minimum of 5 per person each hour. Calculate the total by multiplying this rate with the number of attendees and event hours to arrive at your appetiser estimate.

Example: 25 guests x 5 appetisers x 3 hours of event = 375 pieces

Pro Tip 6: Buffet is Served Later

Given the freedom to select portions at a buffet, expect higher consumption than at a sit-down dinner. Anticipate 1-2 servings per person, rather than just 1 serving per item. Note that greater variety leads to smaller portions, as attendees tend to sample a bit of each dish.
Examples of nibbles will be bite sized cake, finger sandwich, nyonya kuih, fruit platters and etc.

Pro Tip 7: 1 or 2 serving of desserts if full meal is served

For full meals, allocate 1 dessert serving per person. For heartier events, like those with substantial dishes, consider 1 slice of cake or 2 bite-sized desserts per person. Match dessert quantity to the guest count. To err on the side of caution, increase dessert by 15-20% for potential seconds.

Example: 25 guests x 2 appetisers x 15% = 58 pieces

Example: 25 guests x 2 appetisers x 20% = 60 pieces

Pro Tip 8: 4 or 6 serving of desserts if having dessert party

For a dessert-focused event, arrange 4-6 desserts per person. Aim for 4-6 petite dessert portions per person throughout the event. Options include bite-size cupcakes, cookies, or brownies.

Image Source From: Barley & Sage

Note that age demographics play a vital role in determining the food portion required, a factor often overlooked. For example, a 5-year-old consumes less than an adult, necessitating more food portions per adult than per child.

Having a general count of adults and children from the attendees aids in calculating the food portions effectively.

Guidelines on How To Prepare Food Portions

Though an exact formula for perfectly gauging catering food portions doesn’t exist, adhering to general guidelines can assist. Here’s a set of recommendations:

  1. Prioritise more main dishes over appetisers/side dishes (especially for elder attendees)
  2. Be attentive to dietary needs and requests.
  3. Round up estimates to avoid shortages.
  4. Multiply attendees by three to estimate appetizer quantity.
  5. Remember, buffets often lead to higher consumption, so order accordingly.
  6. Keep a buffer for unforeseen guests, catering for a slightly larger number than expected.


Preparing an abundance may result in leftovers, a manageable situation. Conversely, insufficient preparation could lead to discontent among hungry guests, resulting in undesirable feedback.

At KX Makan, we stand by your side throughout the journey. Our contribution extends to streamlining the process further by offering a user-friendly and tailored menu for your office gathering. Whether catering to small groups or special occasions, our diverse catering menu will cater to your requirements. Don’t hesitate any longer — take action now!

Contact Us

We understand your concerns about food health and benefits, and we’re here to take care of it for you.

Contact us now for any inquiries you might have or visit us at kxmakan.com.my

-A Food Caterer That You Can Depends On-