Cooking food for large groups of people is a lot more challenging than most people imagine. It’s not simply a matter of taking the recipe that a person makes for a family of four and multiplying it to cook for a group of 100 people. There are so many things that need to be taken into consideration when preparing food on this scale. First and foremost, there are the utensils that are going to be used. Now most people do not have access to well-crafted industrial size food preparation devices, such as a ribbon mixer, so they have to make do with what they have. They are going to have to find a way to maximize their efforts with a minimal amount of utensils.

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The next challenge is determining really how much food is going to be enough. When cooking for a large crowd, the goal is to avoid having people go hungry, while at the same time not having so much food leftover that there is a lot of waste.

Factors to consider when determining how much food needs to be prepared are the type of food, the people who are going to attend the festivities, and the time of day that the festivities will be held.

Starting with appetizers, a good rule of thumb would be two to three portions for each person. When thinking about different appetizers, it is good to estimate about a third of a cup of salsa or dip for each individual invited, one and a half cups soup for each invitee, one cup of salad, six ounces of meat, five ounces of the starch, and at least 1.5 portions of dessert for each person invited.

With these numbers, a person should be able to feed just about any crowd that shows up. So if there was a party with 100 people showing up, one would need to prepare at least 40 pounds of meat, 30 pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of dry pasta, or if they were doing some sort of sausage or hotdogs, at least 200 hot dogs or 30 pounds of sausage. Using the same principles with things like shellfish, a person would want to prepare between 20 to 30 pounds of precooked shellfish for a group of around 100 people.

When it comes to beverages, a good rule of thumb is one gallon for every 10 guests. Alcoholic beverages could be limited to around two drinks for each person for every hour of the party.