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How many times have we asked ourselves the following question when we decide to organize a party, a gathering of Friends or the feared family get togethers at Christmas time, and we don’t know where to begin…How to calculate the amounts of food and drink?

When we’re used to preparing the food only for ourselves, calculating the amount of food that we have to prepare is easy and usually depends on how hungry we are at the time or whether we want an extra portion to eat the next day or to keep for another day.

But everything gets more complicated when we have to calculate portions and cook for large numbers, we all know that in the days following a lunch or dinner at home, we have a fridge full of leftovers.

Well, to try and prevent that from happening again I’m going to tell you how we at Full Spain organize ourselves when we throw a party and have to do the shopping making sure that no one goes hungry and neither is there food left over with some dishes ending up in the garbage. We can’t all afford to hire a caterer or a cook to take care of everything. Luckily there are easier ways to calculate the amount of food needed. All you have to do is look at the different dishes you are going to serve and calculate from there.


Let’s start with the appetizers. If there’s no main course as part of your dinner and it’s based on appetizers you must calculated on ten to fifteen pieces of food per person.

Dips: I mean things like “Hummus”, soft cheese, “Guacamole” … Here you need to allow half a kilo for ten people.

“Crudités”: If you’re going to serve vegetable “crudités” for the “dips” (sauces for dipping a more solid food), you should allow about eight sticks per person.

Salad: In this case you need about 120 gr per diner.

Potato crisps and nuts: The most eaten snacks at parties.  Half a kilo per ten guests is the recommended amount.

Crackers and toasts: Half a kilo for twenty guests.

Cheese board, cold cuts and smoked foods: Para una buena tabla se debe calcular unos cien gramos de embutido, queso o ahumado por persona. Para acompañarlo sería adecuado tener medio kilo de pan.

Savoury pies and Quiches: You should plan on two portions per person.


Most people eat dishes of about two hundred grams, provided that there are side dishes or appetizers.

 Fish and Shellfish: Lobsters and similar are calculated on a per-unit basis. A normal lobster can weigh about 400/500 grams and is counted as a “ration”. Crabs, shrimps, prawns, lobsters, rock lobsters and other crustaceans are best counted in units, always depending on their size and by what they will be accompanied.  In these cases, I recommend you ask your trusted fish supplier directly, telling him how many people will be at the table and giving an idea of the complete menu, so that he can help you to calculatethe quantity. For oysters a good estimate would be 3 or 4 per person.

 Fowl: If it is a whole chicken, with skin and bone, the easiest way is to calculate per piece. Small birds such as quails or partridges require a couple of units per person.

One 1.5/2 kg chicken, pheasant, duck or pullet should be enough for 4 people.

Duck usually weighs a bit more, between 2.5 and 3 kg, it should easily provide enough for 6 or 8 diners. If the birds are going to be stewed, 350 g will be sufficient.

Large birds, such as turkeys, are easier to count by weight. If it is to be stuffed, an accurate calculation is 400 g per person. For boned and stuffed birds, 180-200 grams is already considered a more than adequate portion.

 Meat: Everything with a bone which is going to be roasted, like a shoulder joint or a rack of lamb, has considerable shrinkage, so about 400 grams per diner.

For those meats which are almost fat-free, boneless with a short cooking time, like an entrecôte of veal or beef, 200 gr. should be enough.

If we are talking about lean meat that is also going to be served raw, such as a “tartar” or a “carpaccio” as a starter, we should limit the portion to 125 grams. A raw portion of 200 grams of roast beef, as a main course, which will arrive at the table weighing about 180 grams, would be a good portion per person.

If this post has helped you or if you have any ideas to share, please do so!


 Potatoes: Whether mashed, fried or baked, calculate one large potato per person, about 150 grams per person.

Vegetables: If you do some vegetables as a side dish, one cup per person should be enough.

Bread: Two rolls per person, about one hundred and twenty grams (only for the main course). If it is a “buffet”, it is a nice idea to put out a tray with an assortment of breads.


 Cake: If there is only one dessert, which is the cake, calculate one slice per guest. If you serve two or three desserts, calculate half a slice of each per guest.

Biscuits: approximately two biscuits per person.

Ice-cream: A litre of ice cream is enough for four people

In addition to learning how to calculate food rations for a party, it’s also good to keep an eye on the variety of what you’re serving. I’m sure you want to offer a balanced menu and offer a little variety.


Calculating the drinks requires is also important. As much as or more so than the food. In general, adults drink an average of three or four drinks over the course of a meal

 Soft drinks and non-alcoholic drinks: These drinks are usually the most consumed, either alone or in combination. We calculate on one litre per person.

Beer: Half a litre per person.

Champagne and Wine: If served with other drinks, calculate one bottle per five people. If it is the only drink, one bottle for every three guests.

Spirits: A bottle of 750 ml is enough for approximately eight people.

Ice: If most drinks require ice, calculate about one kilo per person. Here more is better, because a warm drink doesn’t look good and having to run to a gas station isn’t cool at all.

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