How much food to order for your event

How much food do I need for my event?

We are often asked by our clients about how much food they should order. Brides, grooms, and event planners of all kinds often worry about finding that sweet spot between making sure that everyone has enough to eat but as little food as possible goes to waste. With the need to protect our planet and our pocketbooks, this is a reasonable concern.

When you are planning an event and bringing your family, close friends, or colleagues together, you want to hear about how much they loved the food. After all, the food is often a main attraction. The last thing you want to discover is that Uncle Bob or one of your Senior Vice Presidents didn’t get enough to eat. Perhaps even worse, you certainly don’t want to see your caterer leaving with carriers full of food that never made it out onto the plates or the buffet line.

Uneaten food is a significant contributor to the trash that accumulates in landfills. And, when it decomposes, it can create a powerful greenhouse gas called methane. Yuck!

Thankfully, all of this can be avoided.

4 tips to planning the right amount of food for your upcoming event

When you are working with an experienced and professional catering company, they will be able to provide you with guidance on what to consider when selecting your entrees. However, if you are going it alone or want to be reassured that you are making the right decisions, there are a few guidelines to ensure your food volumes are just right.

buffet line
  • Know your headcount. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it isn’t always that easy. Between guests that take a long time to RSVP (or don’t RSVP at all) or to corporate events where half of the staff may end up getting pulled away and unable to attend, getting that number right is no easy task. Most caterers, A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality included, will work with you to establish a minimum headcount at the time of your booking. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that approximately 75% of your guest list will attend your wedding. If you are planning a destination event, that number may be somewhere closer to 35% to 50%. So, when working with your catering team, consider how many people you are planning to invite, and then start with a lowball figure as you lock-in your booking. Most caterers will let you increase your guest count but will ask you to stay locked in at the minimum as they leverage that number for resource planning.
  • Ask questions. Find out what your caterer does with leftover food. In very few cases are caterers allowed to let you take excess food home with you. Bound by restrictions from health departments and even venue requirements, most caterers will need to pack up the leftovers and bring them back to the catering kitchen. However, ask your caterer what they do with the leftover food. At A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality, we donate leftover food to local community organizations that work to stop hunger.
  • Be mindful. You may be tempted to order multiple entrees so that your guests have choices. But before you do that, consider first the additional expense, and if all your guests will really take a full helping of each. Consider sticking with that one entrée but then offering a broader selection of side dishes. For our clients, we suggest that they select only one main entrée item. When two entrees are ordered, it means you will get a full quantity of both. This assumes that all your guests will receive more than their portion of each entrée. Your guests will not be able to eat that much. And though some caterers offer a 50/50 entrée allocation when clients order two entrees, in our experience we have found that a 100% allocation is best as you just never know which entrée the guest will prefer. This can create guest disappointment when they really wanted entrée A but only entrée B was left by the time they made it to the buffet line. Also, consider that when people take too much food, they often can’t finish it, and then that food automatically goes to waste and is no longer an option for donation.
  • Be partnerly. Your caterer wants you to have the absolute best event possible. And, they’ve been around the block a few times. Though we will do everything we can to ensure you have all of the amazing food you want at your event, know that our suggestions are meant to be helpful, are based on experience, and have the ultimate goal of saving you money and protecting our earth.
plated proportions

A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality will help you select the right quantity of food to make your event a success  

A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality is the premiere catering provider for Minnesota businesses and residents looking to celebrate their most important occasions. Our mission is to listen to our clients and treat them like family to provide a meaningful, trusting, and lasting relationship.

We have the right brand for any catering need and bring experience in all types and sizes of events. Whether it be buffet style, a formal sit-down dinner, or a series of stimulating and tantalizing food stations, you and your guests will be amazed by the core values, colorful food arrangement and display, and professionalism of A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality from beginning to end. Our ultimate goal is to complement your important day with a meal and service that will be remembered for a lifetime.

Our brands:

This Little Piggy-Distinctive Catering-Apples 2 Apples Catering-Hitch and Sip bar
  • Apples 2 Apples Catering offers an ethical farm to table catering concept using healthy ingredients fresh from local farms across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Follow Apples 2 Apples on Instagram and Facebook.
  • This Little Piggy Catering is a premiere outdoor catering solution that has been creating lasting memories since 1979. Our specialty is creating fantastic pig roasts, including delicious and colorful Hawaiian Luaus and traditional German-style pigs with all the fixings. Follow This Little Piggy on Instagram and Facebook!
  • At Distinctive Catering & Events, we align impeccable service with incredible food for all of your important events. Throughout the planning process, our Food & Beverage Coordinators are here to guide you with their kindness and trusted experience. Our chefs have the capability of customizing your appetizers, food stations, meals, desserts, and late-night snacks, making them truly distinctive to your occasion. Follow Distinctive Catering on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Hitch & Sip is a fully licensed and insured liquor catering business. Our services are completely mobile, and we provide all the equipment needed to create your bar experience. Follow the Hitch & Sip on Instagram and Facebook.

To learn more about our various brands and our unique and professional approach to weddings and other special events in Minnesota, please contact us at 612-339-0222 or via email at You can also request a quote. We can’t wait to hear from you and help you create an event to remember.

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