Figuring portions for large group
whenever we have a party i always make too much food & a lot of it ends up going to waste. we're having a brunch next sunday for about 40 adults and 15 kids after a baptism & i was wondering if anyone could give me any guidance on what is considered normal "portions" when serving a lot of people. i'll have crudite and a cheese board in addition to other munchies to start. i'm making quiche, a baby greens salad w/blue, walnuts & craisins; bowtie pasta w/sundried tomatoes & pine nuts; orzo salad w/kalamata olives, feta and red peppers; a tray of sandwiches and wraps (turkey & brie, ham & swiss, chicken salad, etc.) and a ton of desserts (cake, cheesecake, bundt cake, choc. dipped strawberries, cannoli).
When I'm making a variety of food for a crowd, I usually go with 1/2 a portion of whatever I'm making per person. So, for 50ish people, I'd make around 25-30 portions of each item. Some people will have a whole portion, some won't have any, and this seems to generally work out without too much waste. You will probably run out of the most popular item(s), but this is okay because then people will eat more of what is left.
For example, things like the wraps/sandwiches, I'd make 25-30 and cut them in half, so there are 50-60 pieces. For the quiche -- assuming you are doing standard quiche sizes -- I'd make around 5 quiches and slice them smaller than usual. The green salad, I'd probably up the portion a little, and make enough for 40, but the bowtie pasta salad and the orzo salad, I'd keep it to a 25-30 portion size. The desserts, I would not have more than around 100 servings total -- people love desserts and so some will take two pieces, and of the popular items, you can slice them smaller.
(The above portioning assumes that people will have also had appetizers/snacks, as you noted you would be providing.)
With our typical crowd, I would halve the salad and keep the pasta and orzo salads at 40 portions (1/3 to 1/2 cup), but that's because no one really eats salad in our group. I mean, we do, but not when presented with other yummy things to eat.
For such a large crowd, DanaB's quantities sound pretty spot on. Most people like to taste everything, like quiche AND a wrap. I might slice the wraps into fourths (not as neat, I know), making smaller portions for people to grab. Definitely slice the quiche into smaller portions. People can always come back for seconds, but you don't want to run out of food on the first go around.
Slice the desserts into small slices, too. I'd plan on a small slice of cake per person and a strawberry for each person. Cheesecake and cannoli maybe 1 for every 2 people? And, if you have room, stash some frozen cookie dough for last minute cookies. If you run out of everything else, warm cookies from the oven will make everyone forget.