How to Buy Food for a Party

Two Methods:Party Food PreparationParty Food Calculation

Throwing a party is a great way to round up a bunch of friends or family members for a good time. Whether you're in college and celebrating a friend's birthday or you're hosting a large family reunion for the holidays, parties can be both exciting and memorable. However, the actual planning and preparation of a party can be intimidating for you if you've never thrown a party. As one of the most important aspects of a party is the serving of food, learning how to buy food for a party will set you on the right path towards hosting a successful party.

Method 1
Party Food Preparation

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    Begin planning the food for your party as early as you can. If the party is less than 6 weeks away, begin planning immediately. If the party is more than 6 weeks away, however, you can wait until approximately 6 weeks before the date of the party.
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    Make a list of everything you'll need for food. Decide what kinds of party food you will be serving. Are you planning a simple party with snacks and dips? Will you be serving a full dinner meal with appetizers and dessert? Make note of any recipes you'll need when it comes time to cook. Keep in mind your guests requirements. Not everyone loves junk food so make sure to have some healthy food on offer as well. If you have a friend that you know is highly allergic to a specific food, it is a good idea to not serve this food or let everybody know to stay away from that person while consuming that food.
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    Purchase non-perishable foods as soon as possible. If you plan on using canned foods as part of your recipes, purchase them ahead of time and store them somewhere safe. Other non-perishable foods include frozen food, pasta, dry beans, and bottled beverages. By purchasing non-perishables ahead of time, you cut down the size of your shopping list significantly, allowing you to focus only on purchasing perishables before the party.
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    Prepare food ahead of time when possible. There are plenty of food recipes that can be prepared days or even weeks before the date of an event as long as you freeze and store the food properly. This will take a huge load off your shoulders in the days preceding the actual event.
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    Purchase food and ingredients in bulk from a wholesale distributor. This is less important if you're only hosting a party for a handful of people, but can save you a lot of time and money if you're hosting a large party. Wholesale distributors allow you to purchase items in bulk quantities at a reduced price.

Method 2
Party Food Calculation

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    Determine how many guests you expect to be serving. It is very difficult, almost impossible, to calculate or estimate how much food you're going to need to prepare if you don't know how many mouths you'll need to feed. This is a good reason why you should begin planning the food for a party weeks ahead of time. When you know how many guests you'll have, the rest is simply a matter of mathematics.
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    Calculate appetizers. If your party is only serving hors d'oeuvres, then you should use the following estimates: an average guest will consume 5 hors d'oeuvres per hour for the first 2 hours of a party and 3 hors d'oeuvres per hour for every additional hour. If you plan to serve a meal after the appetizers, cut the estimations down by a third or a half.
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    Calculate chips and dip. If you're offering chips and dip--or chips and no dip--as a snack, you'll want approximately 1 lb. of chips and 1 pt. of dip for every 10 to 12 guests. Increase the amounts if you do not plan on serving a meal later.
    • Pita and tortilla chips weigh more than potato chips, which means that 1 lb. of pita or tortilla chips will actually be less food than 1 lb. of potato chips. If you're going to serve pita or tortilla chips, be sure to compensate for the disparity by buying a little more.
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    Calculate pizza. For non-formal parties, pizza is a quick and easy way to satisfy the hunger of guests. When serving pizza as the main meal, you can estimate that a large (10 in.) pizza will feed 2 to 3 people. If you're serving other food alongside the pizza, you'll only need approximately 1 to 2 slices per guest.
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    Calculate dessert. If your dessert is a cake or pie, plan to serve 1 slice per guest. If your dessert is cookies or pastries, plan to serve 2 per guest. If your dessert is ice cream, then you should have 1 half-gallon for every 5 to 8 guests.
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    Use the general rule of thumb in all other cases. If you're preparing a dinner meal from scratch and you need to know a general rule of thumb for how much food to prepare, then you can safely estimate that you'll need 1 lb. of food per guest not including dessert or drinks.


  • When making estimates, always make sure that you round up. If it's a choice between having too little or too much food, always lean towards having too much food.

Article Info

Categories: Party Snacks