Admin Assistance: Perfect Portion Planning for Office Parties

Posted by on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 with Comments Off on Admin Assistance: Perfect Portion Planning for Office Parties Comments

When it comes to planning conferences and catered lunches, the question of how much food to order can be a vexing one to busy administrative assistants who suddenly find “event planner” added to their job descriptions. It’s no wonder that good old box lunches are a go-to solution: all the guesswork is removed from the equation!

Portion planning is key to successful holiday parties.

For more formal occasions or bigger office parties, however, sometimes it’s necessary to plan a more elaborate buffet or family-style food service without individual portions neatly included. For these occasions, consider these tips on how to plan portion sizes for office events:

Appetizers: If you’re planning an after-hours cocktail party for clients or coworkers, appetizers or hors d’oeuvres may be all you need. Generally, plan on serving five to six varieties, with enough for each person to eat one of each (if you’re including popular items like shrimp cocktail or shellfish, plan for more, as they will go quickly!). If your cocktail party is substituting as dinner, though, then you’ll need 10-15 per person. And keep in mind that guests will likely eat more appetizers that are served buffet-style than those brought around on trays by servers.

chicken skewers on catering tray

Plan on five to six varieties of appetizers for a cocktail party.
Image source: Flickr User LKuit

Lunch: For a buffet-style lunch at the office, plan on serving six to eight ounces of protein per guest (or two 4-ounce portions if you’re offering fish and chicken, for instance). Include about 1.5 ounces of rice or grains and four ounces of vegetables per guest. For green salads, plan on about an ounce per person. Desserts can be easily pre-portioned: slice brownies in half and serve moderately-sized cookies, and plan on each guest indulging in 1.5 treats. Nine-inch pies or cakes usually serve six people.

Breakfast: For Continental-style breakfast meetings with pastries and fresh fruit, plan on one pastry and one piece of whole fruit per person; or, serve a half-cup of mixed fruit like berries (pre-portion fruit into small plastic cups if your budget is tight!). Don’t skimp on the coffee, however, or plan to supply enough ice water for each person to have a glass. There should be plenty of coffee for each attendee to have two cups.

Family-style “takeout buffet”: For lunch and learns or other working meetings, ordering a large quantity of takeout to be delivered from a favorite restaurant is a nice alternative to formal catering. Depending on the restaurant’s portion sizes, you can also easily plan on ordering one meal per person, along with one appetizer for every three to four guests to share. This is a simple way to plan a themed menu, like Indian cuisine or Mexican, with little fuss!

vegetable pakora in takeout container

A DIY takeout buffet is a budget-friendly alternative to formal catering.
Image source: Flickr User massdistraction

Pizza parties: Most pizza planners allocate three slices per person, but you can get away with underestimating a little if you also serve salad or other appetizers.

No matter what the occasion, keep in mind the appetites of your coworkers or clients. If you’re feeding a lumberjack convention, order more food; if you’re in charge of menus for a tech start-up’s all-night hackathon, increase the snack food and energy drinks. No two events are alike, but over time, you’ll learn how to order successfully — even if your audience includes colleagues on restrictive diets or even picky eaters. And the office party experts at are here to help! Between online ordering, Virtual Cafeteria Service, and quick delivery, your job just got a lot easier.

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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