People helping themselves at a buffet with title: Forget Potluck! Always Have Enough Food to Feed a Crowd

Forget Potluck! Always Have Enough Food to Feed a Crowd

Once I had a potluck dinner party and no one brought anything! I was mortified when there wasn’t enough food to go round and, as a result, I developed a reliable system to make sure I always have enough food to feed a crowd.

Why guests didn’t bring any food to my Potluck party

I was really puzzled why no-one brought any food to the potluck. I had specified the type of event in my invitation, both written and verbal.

Guests said they didn’t know what to bring, and they knew from previous events that I would have enough food for an army anyway.

Guess what? That was the first time I had decided to stay on budget, not go overboard with last minute changes of mind and menu, and made just what the recommended per person serving amounts were.

(I made a very large pan of Lawry’s® famous Sour Cream Tortilla Casserole as a side to barbecued steak and chicken.)

I was so embarrassed when one guest asked if I had another pan made in the oven, since she didn’t get any! Apparently everyone had assured her that I had more.

Make sure you have enough food to feed an army

Needless to say, that party was a hard lesson in how important it is to control portions for the buffet. And not to trust guests to bring a dish when asked!

From that moment on, I always have enough food for an army readily available, as well as more food on hand as backup. Never again was I going to be put in the uncomfortable position of telling a guest that I didn’t have any more of what I was serving (even though she was supposed to bring something!)

Based on that experience, I created a personal guideline for how much food a typical guest might consume during a buffet, and put it in my family cookbook.

Typical portions to feed a crowd at a buffet

Appetizers/First Courses (per person)

  • 4 oz tossed green salad w/ 2 oz dressing
  • 6 oz. soup or chowder
  • 2 oz. dip
  • 8 pieces of finger food (about a 3-bite size)
  • 4 oz chips/crackers
  • 4 oz. cheese

Entree/Main Course & Accompaniments (per person)

  • 8 oz. meat/featured entree
  • 6 oz side dish (rice, pasta, potatoes)
  • 2 hot dogs or bratwurst/buns
  • ½ pound cooked shrimp

Desserts & Drinks (per person)

  • 2 helpings of dessert
  • 12 oz. beverage (per hour)
  • 2 oz. alcohol (per hour)
  • 2 bottles of water

I’ve used these portions many times, and feel very comfortable with them as a rule of thumb. There are leftovers sometimes, but not so much that you could feed an army again.

P.S. You might be asking about my previous potluck surprise ”why didn’t you find out what everyone was bringing?” Well, we had had so many parties in the past that I just said ”bring whatever you feel like, it’s potluck.”

Pot luck, indeed.

Happy cookbooking,


About Erin Miller

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