How to Calculate Food Portions For Catering Orders

calculate food portions caterers food business for catering orders how to May 19, 2021

It may not seem like it but believe me - the tiniest miscalculations of your food portions can affect your catering business’s success. If you prepare too little food, your guests could go hungry. They might even leave a negative review on your brand due to such an unpleasant experience. 

On the other hand - if you serve your guests way too much food, it’ll surely have an impact on your food cost. Not to mention that you’ll also end up with tons of food waste! As a caterer, it’s only mandatory that you learn how to calculate your food portions wisely. 

Half Pan

Suppose you’ll only be catering to a small group of people, then I recommend using half pans. You’re familiar with this kind of pan, right? These containers are ideal if you’ll be serving 5-7 people.

Shallow Food Pan

When I was still running my own catering business, we’d usually use these shallow food pans for any orders intended to feed ten people. I used to use a full pan whenever we’d get such orders and fill it up halfway, and it doesn't look good. So don’t do that! Put an effort and invest in better containers your customers will love. 

Shallow Medium Pan

If you are to serve a larger party - grab some of these shallow medium pans. This container holds the right food portion for 20 people. It’s an excellent choice for dinners and banquets. 

Deep food pan

Lastly - the good-old, reliable deep food pan. You can put food portions in here that is good for 30 people! Any bigger food portions you wish to prep, store, transport, or store can fit here. 

Other Factors You Must Assess to Determine Proper Food Portions

Number of Guests

Knowing the number of attendees gives you an initial idea of how much food you must prepare for a particular catering order. With this info in mind, you can make a rough estimation of all the ingredients and equipment you’ll need for the order. 


Budget is something you must thoroughly discuss with your clients. After all, the main goal of a business is to gain profits. Portion your food depending on the budget you have on hand. Always try to work within your budget. 

The Event’s Duration

How long will the event last? Funny as it may sound, people are likely to be hungry again and again in an event. And the longer they stay, the more food they’ll consume. Keep that in mind. 

Kind of Food/Menu

Cuisines like Mexican and Italian that usually feature heartier dishes fill up the guests quicker. With that said, most attendees might not go for seconds. On the contrary, guests are likely to get tiny appetizers and side dishes from time to time - so make sure that you have some extra servings for such foods. 

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