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Cook Talk

Reception for 200
i am trying to self cater my son's wedding, i need advise if i have the right quantities of food for buffet style meal
Sliced Ham & Turkey (40 lbs ea)
Swiss & American cheese (10 lbs ea)
Rolls (20 dozen "3 varities"
Condiments (2 mayo, 2 mustard)
Pasta Salad (30 C dry pasta)
Tossed salad & dressing (46 lbs & 4-5 1 gallon jars of dressing)
Pickle, olive and cheese tray (2 lrg jar of pickles, 5-14oz cans olives, 6lbs cheese)
Chips, pretzels & dip (31 lbs chips & pretzels, 15 lbs of dip)
Beer (2 1/2 kegs 1 reg and 1 lite)
You have to tell me how many people and how long the party lasts.
There will be around 200 guest, meal at 6:00 dancing and drinks to follow. Reception is 6 -10 pm.
Condiments (2 mayo, 2 mustard)- see the sandwich event page and expand your condiment bar
Pasta Salad (30 C dry pasta)- start with 12 pounds dry pasta
Tossed salad & dressing (46 lbs & 4-5 1 gallon jars of dressing)- too much dressing- see the plan for 100 salad section.
Pickle, olive and cheese tray (2 lrg jar of pickles, 5-14oz cans olives, 6lbs cheese)- not enough for 200- see the relish tray guide at the top of the veggie tray page. Select some kid friendly choices.
Chips, pretzels & dip (31 lbs chips & pretzels, 15 lbs of dip) You will have chips left over
Beer (2 1/2 kegs 1 reg and 1 lite) A full keg is 200 servings. This is a lot of beer, unless these are quarter kegs. See the beverage planning page.
By the way, I would add a big bowl of egg salad or veggie pate for the non-meat eaters in the crowd.
Ellen, I need some guidance and direction. We have a Banquet coming up and are planning for 200 people to be in attendance.

We simply are providing Taco Salad with Root Beer. We have a limited budget so we want to make sure we have enough but not excess.

Could you help me determine how much of each ingredient below we should have available for people to build their own taco salad?

Hamburger Meat (70 lbs be enough?)
Lettuce (20 heads or 10 lrg bags pre-cut)
Chips (10 lrg bags)
Tomatoes (24 cups)
Cheese (24 cups)
Sour Cream (4 lrg tubs )
Onions (5 cups)
Olives (9 cans, sliced)
Salsa (4 lrg containers)
Kidney Bean (15 cans)
Ranch Dressing ? not sure how many bottles
Catalina Dressing

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

I am unsure why you posted the same question again when I answered it the first time (blue and gold dinner). Could you not find your original post?
Mary Ann Price
We are catering my granddaughter's reception. How many whole hams do I prepare for 200 people, time frame 4p -7p.
Thank you for your help.
If this is the only meat, you need 50 pounds bone-in whole ham per 100 guests, a bit more if it is self serve, and about 1/5 more if it is self carve (which, with this large a crowd, you don't want to do).
Hi Ellen! I used your site when self-catering my wedding last September and I want to tell you YOU ARE MY HERO! I had no idea where to begin with the food until I found you!

Anyways, my brother is getting married this August, and we are working on the quantities for his food. We are doing the reception at our Grandpa's in his yard, so we're staying casual about it and going with Pulled Pork sandwiches, as well as Cold sandwiches for those who do not want the pulled pork. My brother wants to go with 1/2 pulled pork, 1/2 cold sandwiches. We have most everything figured out using your site except the pulled pork. And I don't know if I am just being blind, but I can't find your pulled pork recipe. I saw a posting or two asking about pulled pork, and you referred to a recipe for one, but I'm lost! I think I thought pulled pork was made without BBQ sauce, is there such a thing? We're serving 200 guests, so I need a recipe for pulled pork for 100. Thanks!!!!

First of all, thanks!

I would make more pulled pork than that, make it ahead, and freeze it in about 5 pound amounts (about 18 sandwich) in the oversize freezer baggies (I think they are 3 gallons) in thin, flat layers. I would make 2 extra baggies for up to 140. Then on the day of, you can start with 100 people worth and pull out the extra baggies as needed for appetite. Thaw the main amount in the refrigerator 18-24 hours (1-2 nights) and the quickie bags, in a roaster or in a roasting pan in the oven at about 400.

Here is the recipe you were looking for:

As for pulled pork, here is a recipe for 8 pounds from a Carolina cook that is about as good as you can find. Note that this amount of sauce is only for 8 pounds meat, you will need 4 times as much for your 32 pounds.

2 pork butts, 3 to 4 pounds each, untrimmed (can sub shoulders)

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses
1 head garlic, broken into unpeeled cloves
2 Tb. whole cumin seeds
3 Tb. whole coriander seeds
1 Tb. whole black peppercorns
8 small dried red chiles
2 bay leaves
3 Tb. tomato paste
3 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 quart distilled white vinegar
4 cups water
1/4 cup salt

Combine the honey, molasses, garlic, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, chiles and bay leaves in a large stockpot, over medium-low heat. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The garlic will darken, and the mixture will be very thick and fragrant. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes; cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the vinegar, water and salt. The sauce should be thin. Simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Set aside half the sauce for marinating the pork. Let the remaining sauce cool and fish out any large pieces of garlic peel. Puree the remaining sauce in a blender (some spices will remain whole). The sauce should be rather watery and look like a brothy tomato soup.

One or two days before cooking (much preferably two), put the pork in a container just large enough to hold it and deep enough for the reserved sauce to cover it. Cover the container and refrigerate, turning the pork half-way through the marinating period.

At this point, you're finally ready to cook the pork. I have tried this in a number of methods and variations, but have settled on a two-step process that works great. I cook half-way in the oven (before basting is necessary and saving propane) and half-way on a grill using indirect heat (making it easier to baste and adding the barbecue flavor you need). The formula is 2 hours per pound (or cooked to an internal temperature between 150 to 160 degrees).

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the pork, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Leave in oven three hours (for six pounds) or four hours (for eight pounds). Remove to pre-heated grill, but with low, indirect heat (should be about the same 200 degrees as your oven). Baste with the pureed sauce every 30 minutes, until done, turning once (this second half of cooking will take as long as the first, if your grill is correctly regulated). Let the pork cool.

Chop and shred the pork. You can either slice it or pull it apart with your fingers (thus the name, "pulled pork"). For slicing, cut the pork across the grain, in half-inch slices. For pulling, start pulling at the meat with a fork, then attack with your fingers. Discard any unrendered fat.

With a large knife, roughly chop the pork coarse. Put the chopped pork in a large bowl with some more of the pureed sauce; the amount is up to you (I'd go a little at a time, and test along the way). Serve the pork warm (no problem with a microwave; it's plenty juicy -- if you cooked it right) with a little more sauce on the side, for your bolder eaters.

It's a lot of work and that's why I usually go 8 pounds, so I can freeze half and eat it a few months from now. I figure if I'm going to this much trouble, I might as well make as much as the sauce can handle (8 pounds being the top end). Enjoy and tell any friends in Asheville or Memphis that you've got 'em beat.

1 cup cider vinegar
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
ground black pepper

And...Here's a great spicy chili rub to use before cooking...

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon white pepper


Solis Lujan
My son and his fiance are in fantasy land. They are getting married in a remote area of Big Sur, Calif. Two small cabins with small kitchens, 200 guest,some camping on the property. Everything has to be brought in from town 2 hours away. The menu is as follows: Grilled Chicken Breast with Mole Sauce and Pickled Onion Garnish, Spanish rice, Hot Corn Tortillas, Jicama Orange Salad on Baby lettuce w/ Pomegranate seeds and vinaigrette. Appetizers; Quesadillas w/ salsa, Raw Oysters w/ sauce, Guacamole w/ chips, Olives marinaded with orange peel, Spiced nuts, Feta with honey w/ crackers and one or two others that I can't remember. Margaritas, wine and cake. We have a BBQer and the Mole Sauce just needs broth and heat. They thought of making shortcake w/ strawberries and whipped cream, but I say forget it and buy a cake.
How can we pull it off. What amounts of food and how many cooks and servers, clean up, etc.
They think friends can pitch in, which is great for set up but not for the kitchen. What are your thoughts. THANK YOU, THANK YOU. MOTHER OF THE SON.
I am not even mentioning the breakfast for about 50 the next day....,.
You are not crazy, they are in serious trouble planning-wise. The last mom I had do it this size successfully, they had 15 yes fifteen close friends who came 2 days ahead to the farm to hep prep and set up, and they hired in 3 experienced church lady cooks and 6 servers for day of so the friends could actually attend and enjoy the service and party. And she had 2 big farm kitchens with lots of freezers and a third small kitchen to work with. Also, you need to add a dish to the menu; ranch beans, or a hot veggie, and something for the non-chicken eaters (a vegetarian choice); you are in California, and there could be as many as 20.Estimating the food is not the most urgent issue. Transporting it and keeping it safely hot and cold is a real issue; there are such things as rental food trucks and cooker trucks; just for example you are looking at 300 pounds of ice and more than 300 pounds of food for the party...
Hi Ellen

We're helping a couple of friends out with their wedding by helping with catering for approximately 200 people. How many oysters (or bushels) would we need to cater for this number of people and they want them natuarale?

On a different note, I love this site... so helpful thank you.

My mother is catering my wedding reception and we need to know how much food is need for 200 people and it will start at 3:30 and be over by 9pm. I would also like to know how and what type of cheese is needed for a cheese tray. We will be serving cornish Hens stuffed with wild rice.
Bette, I missed your post. You know by now it is 4-6 oysters per serving...

sj, this is a do-it-yourself site, which means I expect my readers to use the tables to make a stab at estimating their dinners, post it, and then I can check it.

Also,you need to give me a lot more information. This is a VERY long party for a reception. Are you planning to put out a nibble table or appetizer table to a certain time, then put out a buffet service? Or are the dinners going to be plated and served by servers at a certain time? You need to tell me ALL the menu, beverages, desserts, etc., if you want help with this.

If I were doing this, I would do an appetizer table 3:30-530, set out the dinner at 5:30-7:00 or so. Set up a dessert buffet and dinner coffee at the same time, so that those who were leaving earlier could still get their dessert. Cut the cake at 7:00-7:30. Those staying on would have something to eat from 7:00-9:00.

o.k. I get the whole 1/4 lb of pulled pork per person but is that before or after cooking? I'm cooking for 200 and will have sides and rolls for the pork but trying to nail down how much meat to purchase. Thanks for your input.
Forgot to mention that I am using pork loin so I will have minimal waste and it will shred easy. thanks
VJ, that is after cooking, you need at least 1 pound raw boneless for each 3 people.
Reception for 250
I am serving ham and turkey sandwiches at our wedding reception and want to make sure I have enough mayo and mustard for guests to put on their sandwiches. Could you please help me figure out how much to have?
Yes. There is a table on the sandwich page that identifies the fixings/condiments for sandwiches for 100 people, you would do 2 1/2 times this.
I am serving 3 course meal to 200 people at 7pm, anticipate 50-75 people to depart after dinner but have another 50 people arriving for an after party (dance) at 9:30 pm. I plan to do a buffet of various chips and cold dips around 11:30 pm. Young adults and some big drinkers. How many chips and dips will I need for such a crowd? Thank you.
Use an assortment of dips, allowing 1 cup total per person, and 2-3 ounces of chips or crackers per person. Maybe add some fruit trays?
200 cups of dip seems a lot! Maybe I'm misreading?
Young adults and big drinkers eat a lot. Even if you have just 2 dips, the minimum would be 1/4 cup per person per dip, or 1/2 cup; so 1 cup is allowing a lot of different dips- with multiple, people eat more and usually some of each.
Reception for 50 people
A friend has asked me to cater an artist reception at her shop. She wants trays of finger food for about 50 people. I am planning on making a tray of mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil skewers with some homemade breads and crackers, a tray of fruit skewers, and a tray of lemon curd fruit tarts and meringues. Here are my questions: Do I need to add a veggie tray? How to I figure out how much of everything I need to make?
I do this regularly. Artists and their friends/patrons eat like locusts.

tray of mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil
skewers- 3 per person
some homemade breads and crackers, 5 pounds breads, 3 pounds crackers
ADD cheese tray, I use chunks they have to carve, at least 5 pounds. Add 1 1/2 pounds real butter
a tray of fruit skewers, see fruit tray page, do trays, prettier, easier to prep and eat, and leftovers keep better
tray of lemon curd fruit tarts- will be scarfed- 6-7 dozen
meringues- depends on size, 2-3 if smaller, one if larger per person.

Dear Ellen,
Most of my friends and Etc, tell me i'm crazy for wanting to prepare my own menu for the Wedding with a 200 guest count. Granted I have a very large family and would have many helping out.

What I would like to serve:

Honey Glazed Ham
Roast Beef

Scallop Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Spanish Rice

Green Beans

Tossed Salad
Pasta Salad

Garlic Bread

Before I take this on I would like to know, If precooked how long can it be stored in a freezer before the big day and the quantity of each for a Wedding this size?

Thank you so much for your input and any suggestions would be highly appreciated.

Angela, this is a pretty reasonable menu but did you read my article about doing your own wedding dinner? You need a commercial kitchen, a walk in to store, and HIRED HELP for day of, even if you do the food yourself.

Not everything can be done ahead. For example, if you do my Dijon wedding chicken you can do ahead and freeze, but both the ham and roast beef both have to be done day of.

schmeka johnson
wedding reception for 225-250 Guest

I am serving Dinner Ham, Fried Chicken, Smoke Turkey for meats

Green Bean, Mac N Cheese, Corn for side
Dinner Rolls

Toss salad, Fruit How much food will i need?

Schemeka, if your number is uncertain, you must plan for the larger number. Most of these items are covered in the site

Green Bean, Mac N Cheese, Corn for side
Dinner Rolls all on the plan for 100 page
Toss salad, plan for 100 page (not an appetizer, suggest you add a cheese tray and a spread or dip)
Fruit, fruit tray page

Dinner Ham, 1 pound ready to eat per 4
Fried Chicken, 1 piece per person
Smoke Turkey, 1 pound per 5-6 (varies by region)

Hi Ellen...We are having a wedding reception for 200 at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. We are serving coffee, tea, beer,wine and champagne. We can't decide what type of food to offer. Our inclination is to go with meat and cheese trays, veggie trays, chips ,dip ,fruit trays and of course cake. Any other suggestions?
What about a serious dessert buffet, with a cheese tray, tea sandwiches, and a chocolate fondue? Take a look at the dessert planning page. More fun and more interesting than a straight deli tray set up.
Robyn Anne
I am having a reception for 190-200 people outside from 7:30-11:00. We would like to serve Ice Cream cones (sugar cones & regular with Moose Tracks, Vanilla & Strawberry Sherbert) Lemon Bars & cake as well as Popcorn for everyone. We will be serving cans of pop, water & lemonaid or cranberry juice. I already have a popcorn machine as well as LOTS of help. I doon't have a great idea of where to begin as far as how much ice cream, popcorn & lemon bars I will need. We are doing a His & Hers type feel for the food and drinks. We will have 3 or 4 flavors for the popcorn as well. Any help would be great! :)

Thanks in advance!

This is a tough estimate. I need to know if the people are paying in advance, per item, or if it is free- this affects amounts.

7 pounds of popcorn kernels makes 100 servings, but I suspect over 4 hours you will want more than 1 per person.

Hey Ellen! I really appreciate your help with planning how much food is need. I am wanting to have a reception for 200 people around 2pm with snack foods. I am wanting to do foods such as fruit and veggies, tea sandwiches, cheese and crackers. I am wondering if that sounds like a good menu and also how much of each food is needed. Thank you so much for your help!
Clara, how about just settling in for a true tea party? This is a 3 part menu; scones type things; sandwich/savoury/cheese type things; and sweets, of which part would be the wedding cake if it is a wedding reception. I would not do veggies, and fruits, I would do trays with strawberries, melon bites, etc.

Read these articles for some ideas:

Or consider a full blown dessert buffet, see the dessert planning page.

In either case, you would do dinner level coffee and punches or wine. Take a look at the articles and write back.

Party for 250
Hey Ellen,

I'm hosting a large fundraiser and need to feed about 250 adults. There is an open bar so I don't need to worry about beverages. So far I have been donated: Large tray of ziti & sauce, tray of meatballs, tray of chicken parm, two trays of chicken, brocolli and ziti, sandwich platter and servings of hummus and chips. I know I need much more but do not want to overspend or underbuy. Can you suggest how many more trays of the mentioned food I will need to feed my crowd? Thanks so much!

Tammy, can you tell me what type of event, approximate type of crowd, and whether you want to add other foods that may be attractive but less costly? Please write back.
Help!!! I'm helping friend with wedding reception for 200. They are supplying meat and guests are bringing sides. They are now nervous about having enough food. Advice needed!!
Deb, this is the usual anxiety. Tell me what kind of meat/meats, and I will estimate and suggest a few back up items also.

Write back, maybe start a new thread.

Lori biggs
Ellen I saw a postfor a taco bar for 200 dated 12-17-10 and was so excited to see it as it was my menu for my upcoming wedding! The problem was, you answered her question with a reference to why she didn't get your previous post or something to that effect. So, my long awaited answer was not found. Do you still have that information?

I am also having a d sweet bar that people can take as a favor in addition to the wedding cake. Thoughts on how many desserts?

Lori, all that info has been consolidated and put in a table on the taco/potato bar page. The button is at the top of the main forum page.

For your dessert buffet, see the dessert planning page.

Hi ellen planning a wedding reception for 200 people. The menu is bake chicken , ham, green beans, yellow rice not sure how much of these items per pan I need.can u help me please.
I have been asked to provide bite size pies for a wedding reception of 200. How many items per person should I plan for?
Julie, sorry I missed this earlier. You need to line up your set up and servers, about 12 out front and 3 kitchen day of, and you definitely need an appetizer plan.

For this menu, you need a serious addition. With 200 people, an alternative meatless entree or a side dish that can serve as an entree for people who don't eat meat. This can be as simple as a crockpot of vegetarian sausages or unchicken, or you can add a cheesy side dish. for the current menu for 200.

bake chicken, 1 piece per person
Consider baking in a sauce to reduce drying out, or add a gravy
ham, 65 pounds boneless
Add a sauce, 1 cup per 6
green beans, about 40 pounds
yellow rice, 18 pounds dry
Consider adding a salad or fruit tray if you don't use fruit in the appetizers.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, a nickel or dime per guest, to support the site.

Kristie, it is not clear if these are appetizers, part of dinner, or all or part of dessert. Can you tell me more about how they will be used and what else is being served with them? Write back, and you could start a new thread.
Church play/fundraiser for 225
I have eight teams that I plan to ask to bring food items to put on serving table. The committee will donate a meat. Please help me plan a menu in order to tell each team what to bring. This event is at 3:00
potluck fundraiser for 225
Barbara, are they buying their own, do you want to keep amounts money even, and do you want one that is supplies such as plates and beverages. Write back.
Committee will purchase drink,paper products , and a meat. It will be up to team members (7 in each team as to what they will spend.
Church fundraise
I just need a menu so I can tell each team what they are responsible to bring. The teams will be ask to bring food for guest
If 7 people are providing for 225 eaters, each person has to deal with 36 servings of whatever. that is 3 9x13 dishes, or 8 quarts, approximately.

8 teams?
2 starch teams, these can be hot or cold, potatoes, pasta, etc
1 veg team, mostly hot or cooked dishes
1 fruit/salad team; about 4 fruit and 3 really BIG salad
1 bean team, all kinds of hot and cold/marinated bean dishes
1 appetizer/specialty team, could be dips, family specialties, etc; each brings for 40 people
2 dessert/sweets teams, yes, that is 2 desserts/sweets per person, which is about right for a potluck. 1 serving is 2 small cookies or bars, so you are looking at 6 dozen cookies or 3 pies or 2 cakes per person

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, and the fundraiser goes well, please make a small donation, a nickel or dime per guest, to support the site.

I am a new chef at a country club and have a wedding on Sat. They want carved Beef Tenderloin. 200 people. It is buffet style with other entrees and sides. ITs the tenderloin that's got me stumped on how to cook that many, keep it warm.
Petra, go to the pro chef sites:

They will all tell you to cook it rare, let stand at least 10 minutes (20 is better) before slicing, and rewarm in au jus; but they will have better volume control

Hello! I am in the early stages of planning my daughters graduation party. We will be having a popcorn machine and I am curious how many pounds of kernels would feed around 200 guests? I have read to plan for 2 cups per person but I am finding many different weights for this amount? I plan to use yellow corn if that makes a difference. Also any suggestions on toppings would be helpful as well :)


Usually, about 6-8 pounds of kernels per 100, assuming there are other foods. 2 cups is the popped volume, not kernels.

Toppings, lots of melted real butter; sprinkle cheese, the orange stuff, which you get at restaurant supply; ground Parmesan; popcorn salt, of course.

Do check out the unusual recommendations at this site:

Thin chocolate syrup? Coconut flakes? How far do you want to take this?

geanna england
Reception for 250
I'm doing food for my daughters wedding.
Meatballs,weenies, cheese trays,veggie trays,chips,pretzels.

Pulled pork sandwiches, cheesy potatoes, baked beans, cooked slaw

If u can give me a rough estimate on how much is needed. Thank u!

Reception for 100
Hi Ellen I have enjoyed reading this site. I will be preparing food for my daughter's wedding for 100 guests. I have been making and freezing heart shaped waffles for a breakfast brunch. What would be the best way to reheat and keep warm the waffles. The venue does not have an oven to use. I am thinking of toaster ovens and toasters. We will also be serving bacon, little smokies, scrambled eggs, and fruit. I am planning on using your scrambled eggs in a roaster pan recipe. What is the best way to keep the eggs from turning gray.
Thanks so much.
Reception for 100
The wedding is November 11. A friend has offered to let me use their cambro container for the waffles, how do I keep them from getting soggy. Thanks
Hi, Collene, see your new thread. Real maple syrup, real butter, honey, maybe whipped cream and berries for the waffles.
we are having a light finger food reception for 200 people. finger sandwiches, cheese and crackers , and then pickle and olive tray. We will also have the cake with mints and nuts. How much do I need?
What time does it star and how long does it last, and what is the event/ age group? All these affect amounts, especially with a limited menu. Please write back.
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