Hosting a barbecue is a big opportunity to impress your guests with delicious homemade food—but it does come with its challenges. When you are preparing for a barbecue, you will eventually find yourself wondering how much food to make. Although you can certainly guess, learning how to correctly estimate food quantity can help you to avoid extra work and food waste. In this article, we will explain how to estimate portion size per person at home!
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Factors to Consider
Deciding on how many portions of barbecue to make when you are hosting a meal can be the difference between a refrigerator overflowing with food and there not being enough food to go around. Understanding what factors influence choosing the correct portion size is essential when deciding on the right amount.
Let’s explore some of the more common factors that will determine how much food you will want to make.
Type of BBQ
The kind of food that you make for a barbecue is going to play a large role in the appropriate portions. Some food is more dense than other types of food, meaning that people will naturally eat less. For example, ribs can have a moderate amount of meat, but they will still offer less than a large quantity of something like pulled pork or brisket.
Appetite of Guests
Everyone eats differently, and it helps to really know the eating habits of your guests when you are deciding on portions. Adapting to the level of food that the group eats can ensure that you estimate your portions correctly.
Other Menu Items and Sides
Most barbecues offer a lot more than just deliciously cooked meats. When portioning out your dishes, consider what other food will be available and how much people will be relying on that specific dish to fill their plates.
If you are hosting a barbecue that has a significant amount of appetizers and sides, it is generally fine to make a more limited amount of other dishes. It helps to consider what everyone will be eating in addition to the BBQ meats.
Duration of Cookout
The length of an event will absolutely influence how much food should be made. As a general rule, the longer an event is, the more people will eat. This happens for a few reasons.
During a short cookout, it is possible that some people might not be hungry. Ultimately, they might eat very little or not eat at all. However, given more time at the location, they may eat later on. In this case, having more food will be important. If your event is going to span the entire day, it is a good idea to portion for multiple plates per person.
Age and Gender of Guests
Our bodies can influence our eating habits significantly. While a child in their picky eater phase might not eat much, a grown college athlete may eat enough for multiple people. Using what you know about the age and stature or habits of your guests can help you to correctly estimate portions for each person.
Any Dietary Restrictions or Preferences
Barbecue is delicious, and it is popular all around the globe. However, it is not for everyone. The reality is that barbecue food does not suit all taste preferences, and there are many reasons that people might not eat available food. Knowing the dietary habits of your guests can also help you to estimate portions correctly.
Anyone who prefers plant-based eating or who does not eat animal products will not eat meat at a barbecue. Additionally, people eating certain diets, cutting out sugar or salt, or even just changing their habits might not want to eat too many food items at a barbecue either. When you know this, you can factor it into the total quantity of food.
Guidelines for Estimating Quantity
Correctly estimating the desired quantity of food when hosting a barbecue for different amounts of people is an important skill. It helps you to cut down on excess and accommodate the needs of your guests at the same time. Even better, you also save time and effort by not cooking too much food.
How Much Per Person?
There are some general guidelines that are recommended when it comes to portioning meat out correctly for guests at a barbecue.
How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?
For pulled pork, it is typically recommended to plan for ⅓ to ½ pound per person, assuming that there will be other side dishes and appetizers served as well.
How Much Brisket Per Person?
For brisket, the general guideline is to plan for ½ to 1 pound per person, again assuming that there will be other food options available.
How Much Steak Per Person?
For steak, a common serving size is ½ to ¾ pound per person, although this can vary depending on the size of the meat and whether they are being served as a main dish or as part of a larger meal.
For example, a barbecue with pulled pork and 10 guests should include up to 5 pounds of meat.
When choosing how much to cook, be sure to factor in the other food available and the possibility that guests might eat more or less for various reasons. Remain flexible in your calculations, and always cook a little more than you expect to need. It makes for delicious leftovers and makes sure there is enough for everyone!
Other Tips and Considerations
Create the perfect barbecue menu for your guests with these tips and considerations.
Best Practices for Storing and Reheating BBQ Leftovers
Store your barbecue leftovers in a sealed container for no more than 3 days at a time. When reheating barbecue, be sure to heat it to the correct temperature, and consider adding more sauce if it is dry.
Using Leftover BBQ in Other Dishes
You might not mind eating straight barbecue several days in a row, but sometimes it helps to get a little more creative.
Leftover Options Include:
- Using BBQ meat for sandwich meat
- Preparing steak with new sides
- Turning burger patties into rice bowls
- Making BBQ meat a base for tacos
Accommodating Guests with Dietary Restrictions or Preferences
Dietary restrictions and preferences are becoming more common as we learn more about our bodies. You can get a more accurate estimate for portion sizes and offer a better experience for guests by asking in advance about any restrictions or preferences. Taking time to ask can keep everyone safe and make sure the right amount of food is available on the table.
Carefully estimating quantities can help you to tailor your barbecue meals to parties of different sizes. Being as transparent as possible with your guests will allow you to learn what to expect from their eating habits when they arrive. With this information, you can adjust the necessary portions to create the perfect amount of barbecue every time—with some leftovers for you and your family, of course!
If you have any tips or tricks about estimating food quantity at barbecues, we want to know. Add them in the comments below!