Recipe Blog - BBQ Charcuterie - Feature

How to Figure Out How Much Food You Need for a Party

You just got a new barbecue and naturally, you need to break it in. This would be the perfect time to host a party and feed your favorite people. But, how do you figure out how much food to serve? Follow the tips below and easily learn how to figure out how much food you need for your next party.


The Details

It all begins with planning. What kind of party is it? A sit-down meal or cocktails? What time of day and who is coming? These things will determine the amount of food that you should consider.


Time of Day

The time of day a party is hosted at will play a big role in the amount of food that is getting served. If the party is at a mealtime, consider more hearty foods if you are doing cocktails or plan for a sit-down meal as people tend to be hungry around these times.

Gatherings that happen after mealtimes, like mid-afternoon or in the evening after a mealtimes will require less food. However, you should be very clear on the expectations of the food being served when planning anything.


Age Range

Remember, as well, that the age of the person can impact how much food will be consumed. Those ranging from pre-teen to mid-twenties can consume a lot more food than younger children and elderly people. This can play a huge role in how much food you need to purchase.


Cocktail Party

When you want to have a cocktail party, you don’t have to cook a huge meal. These generally take place between or after mealtimes. Cocktail parties can feature between six and eight courses of finger food per person. Think of it like an eight-course meal but every serving is only one to three bites. Translated for the barbecue, two racks of ribs, cooked to perfection, can be sliced into individual ribs and served to around 10 people providing generous portions. When planning for a cocktail party, consider at least three of everything per person.


Recipe Blog - Smoky Napoleon - Serve

Try the Smoky Napoleon as your signature cocktail to start your party off with a bang and some theatrics.


Courses 1 and 2

Usually cold and are one or two bites. Veggies and dip, cheese, olives, pretzels and the like are ideal. They get the guests revved up and ready to eat.


Courses 3 and 4

This round of food is generally more substantial, can be cold or hot and can be eaten one handed. You would want to feature items like finger sandwiches, devilled eggs and potato skins. Seafood like shrimp is another great addition to this course.


Courses 5 to 7

Aim for meatier, heartier servings like tacos, sliders, spring rolls, and meatballs. This is where bringing in some individual ribs or wings would also be ideal.


Course 8 - Dessert

Finish things off with offerings that are both light and easy to eat. A fruit tray, brownies, cookies, cupcakes or similar single-handed foods are ideal here. Paired with a signature cocktail or coffee and tea, will make the evening unforgettable.


Sit Down Meal

Whether you are hosting a holiday or just having friends for dinner, planning a sit-down meal shouldn’t be a terrifying mountain you have to climb. Use the general guidelines below to decide how much food you need for your family or friends so that you can easily feed those you are grilling for.



This would be nibbles before you get to serving. This can be a distraction while you finish at the barbecue or get everything onto the table. Consider about four of everything per guest, be that veggies and dip or crackers and cheese. You don’t have to go crazy here. Even a bowl of chips or pretzels would suffice for four people. Consider a second bowl or additional nibbles if hosting more.


Try these recipes. They make excellent appetizers or cocktail party nibbles:


Sit Down Appetizer

This is an optional item and will depend on your fanciness when it comes to preparing a large meal. If serving meat, consider about 200 g / 7 ounces / or about the size of a can of spam. That would equal to about three scallops, a small steak or a chicken thigh per guest. Salad and soup are an ideal option here. Because it’s not the main meal, 85 to 141 g / 3 to 5 ounces / 1 to 1½ cups of salad or soup (or both), per person, would be more than sufficient. Consider including bread or rolls with this, planning for at least two each.


Main Course - Meat

  • For red meat and seafood, you will want to prepare at least 200 g / 7 ounces uncooked weight per person.

  • For white meat you will want to prepare at least 500 g / 17 ounces uncooked weight per person.

  • For vegetarian mains you will want 175 g / 6 ounces of cooked food containing grains, lentils, legumes, pasta, eggs, and/or cheese, the protein or main component of the meal, per person.

Here are some great ideas for your grilled main course.



For side dishes like vegetables and starches you will want to cook about 120 to 140 g / 4 to 5 ounces / ½ to ¾ cup of each side dish per person.



Finish your perfect meal off with dessert. Aim for about two portions per person (one of each). Try to include a light and fruity option and a denser and rich option. For example, sorbet or fruit pie and dark chocolate cake or a dense cheesecake. I don’t know about you, but I would have trouble choosing and generally will have a little of both when it comes to dessert.


RecipeBlog - Sticky Toffee Pudding - serve1

Try this delightful Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake.



Whether it’s a cocktail party or a big meal, you will need to provide drinks for those in attendance.

  • Aim to have three to five drinks per person. Plus a couple pitchers of ice water available.

  • You can get about five glasses of wine per bottle.

  • For soda and mix-ins, opt for a couple of flats instead of big bottles, and aim for at least two full cans of pop per person.

  • A 750 ml (fifth) bottle of spirits will provide about 15 nips or mixes.




Quick Reference Guide


Amount to Feed 10


Two - 4lb / 2kg


One - 12lb / 5½kg

Roast (Boneless beef, Pork, Ham)

One - 5lb / 2¼kg

Sides, veg or potato

5 cups / 1¼kg / 2½lb


10 cups / 1½kg / 3lb

Bread, rolls

20 pieces


3 bottles


Pro Tips

  • Don’t forget to mix textures and colors to create visual beauty in your foods. We eat with our eyes as much as our mouths.

  • Try to avoid serving the same ingredients in the appetizer as the main. For example, avoid serving shrimp in an appetizer as well as having it as a large component of the main course.

  • Always double check the dietary needs of your guests before planning.

  • Overestimate your food by 2 to 4 guests to ensure that there is always enough. Bonus, it can provide leftovers without going overboard.

  • If you plan to make something that is generally popular, make extras/double that recipe.


Planning food for more than your household can be a challenge. However, following these numbers as guidelines can greatly help. Budgeting your time and effort along with the amount of food will ensure that your guests have a great time when you grill for them. Now that you know how to figure out how much food you need, are you going to host the next big party? Tell us how your party food planning went by sharing your stories, photos and videos with us using the hashtags #NapoleonEats and #NapoleonMoments.

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