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.
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