Events

How Much Food to Plan for a Party

Planning a party is a huge undertaking, and it requires great attention to detail if you want to pull off an amazing event with little to no mishaps. One of the most important things you’ll need to consider is how much food to buy and prepare for your party. Let’s take a look at how to go about planning the food for a party.

How much food to plan for a party

To determine how much food to buy for your party, think about these key things:

  • Count how many guests will be attending the party. Take into account how many adults or children will be present.
  • Consider any food allergies or dietary restrictions guests may have. Plan on not purchasing or plating anything that your guests are allergic to, and if you do, clearly mark what allergens are found in that dish.
  • Remember the “one pound rule,” or that you should plan for at least one pound of food per adult guest, not including drinks or desserts.

Once you know how much food you need, you can start shopping for the ingredients you’ll need to make the food.

Let’s look at a few other things to consider when planning the food for a party.

Give attendees a menu choice

When planning food for a party, it can be nice to give your guests a choice of what kinds of foods they want to eat. One way to make sure your guests get to eat food they actually like is by asking them.

Once you know what kinds of foods your guests like, you can attempt to create a meal that incorporates everyone’s tastes… or you can create a food bar or buffet with several different options.

Healthy lunch table scene with nutritious lettuce wraps, Buddha bowl, vegetables, sandwiches, and salad, overhead view over white wood

Consider seasonal options for party food

If you want your guests to have the freshest food possible, consider finding foods in season. Not only will the food taste better, but it’ll be juicier and more succulent. The flavors will really come out.

Depending on what season you’re having your party, consider some of the following seasonal food options for your party:

January

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Tangerines

February

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cod
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Whiting

March

  • Lettuce
  • Salmon
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapples
  • Broccoli

April

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapples
  • Rhubarb
  • Spring peas
  • Tuna
  • Zucchini

May

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Okra
  • Pineapples
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Rhubarb
  • Spring peas
  • Zucchini

June

  • Apricots
  • Beans
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

July

  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Kiwi
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

August

  • Apricots
  • Beans
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Crab
  • Early apples
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Green beans
  • Halibut
  • Kipper
  • Kiwi
  • Lettuce
  • Mackerel
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Salmon
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

September

  • Apples
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Pomegranates
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Watermelon

October

  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Cranberries
  • Pomegranates
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

November

  • Cranberries
  • Mushroom
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Pomegranates
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Winter squash

December

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tangerines

Keep the theme in mind (if applicable)

Another thing you’ll want to think about is the party’s theme because you may want to incorporate the theme into the food.

For example, if you’re having a holiday-themed party, you might have holiday-themed cookies (cookies shaped like a tree or gingerbread people).

Having a theme for your party and incorporating it into the food gives guests something extra to discuss during the party.

Know the ages of your guests

Knowing the ages of the guests can help you determine which types of food will be most appropriate. If you know there will be many children at the party, perhaps you could incorporate dishes that kids might eat, such as macaroni and cheese, corn dogs, French fries, or mozzarella sticks.

Think about how much time you’ll have to prepare all of the food

Different types of finger food

Time is an important factor when planning party food, especially if it’s hot or cold. You’ll need to think about the best times to make and serve each dish. Think about whether you’ll need to find ways to keep the food warm before your guests have a chance to enjoy it.

You should also consider the time of year and the time of day before deciding what foods you’ll have for your party.

Also, make sure you’re serving your food regularly, so people aren’t waiting too long between the appetizers and the main course.

Think about your budget

Of course, you’d probably love to go all out and order all the fanciest foods for your party. But you have to be realistic if you don’t want to go broke trying to have an over-the-top celebration.

That means thinking about your budget well before you start planning. Allocate what you can to your food budget and try not to go over your budget, no matter how cute those mini key lime pies look.

You’ve got to plan reasonably and find ways to compromise the things you want for the things that would still work for the party. Continue to review how close you are to reaching the budget after each purchase to ensure you stay on track and under budget.

Think about your venue

How big is this party? And how big is the venue? Think about how much space you’ll have to prepare and serve food if you’re not going to be doing it at your own home.

You’ll want to make sure you’re not too cramped when serving food to guests.

Save time and get your ingredients delivered right to your door

Knowing how much food to plan for a party can ensure your events go off without a hitch. With the above in mind, you can plan a party in no time and have all of the food you need. Want to save some time? Get your party groceries and supplies delivered with Instacart and choose same-day delivery. You may also want to check out our convenience and ready meals to have complete or prepped meals delivered right to your door! One less thing to think about. Happy planning.

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Author

Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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