The Challenge: Design, cook, and implement a dinner menu for a backyard wedding with 80 guests and a budget of $1000. Today, a few updates and we handle the scary part, estimating food quantities.
Soo… we haven’t talked about Kyra’s wedding for a little while. Not to worry, behind the scenes things have been progressing. The bride and groom have tasted the food, we have a final menu, and I’ve handled the scariest part of the whole deal, estimating quantities, and breaking down cost. I’m going to share the estimating and the cost into two separate posts, because it’s a ton of info. But before we get started, one important update and a review of the menu.
Update first. The RSVPs are in and instead of 80 people we’re now planning for 50. (Less then that RSVP’s but it’s always a wise idea to plan for people showing up who didn’t do the whole RSVP thing.) This is nice because it makes our budget of $1000 stretch a little bit further. I’m now comfortable that beer and the cake fit into the budget. Plus it means we can change the menu a bit, i.e. we’re ditching chicken salad and adding brisket for our 2nd meat dish. (FYI I’m not cooking the brisket which is why there is no recipe on the site for it to date. I’m pleased not to be cooking the second main dish because it takes a little bit of the load off of me.)
Now a quick look at the final menu:
- Pulled Pork
- Black Bean, Chickpea, & Quinoa Burgers (for the vegetarians)
- Pesto Pasta Salad (I am using the linked recipe but decided to add some quick pickled zucchini and yellow squash to the dish, in addition to the tomatoes. It will add a bit more color to the dish and a nice acidic balance to the cheese.)
- Roasted Potato Salad With Mustard & Rosemary
- Green Salad with Strawberries, Candied Pecans, Feta, and a simple balsamic (I haven’t actually shared a recipe with you for this one recently. However, this is an old favorite of mine and you can find the recipe for the salad/dressing here. I promise to share my candied pecans recipe with you in the very near future. It’s amazing.)
The beverages: (I think I’ve only mentioned this one in passing, so here’s the final deal.)
- Sangria (I have a ‘secret source’ who works at Carabbas and happened to share the red sangria recipe with me. As it’s pretty much the best sangria in the universe that’s what I’m making.)
- Lemonade (I might share this one in the future as well.)
- Beer (The groom is in charge of this one.)
Dessert: (I know I haven’t spoken about this in any detail at all yet, so…)
- Cake! White cake with raspberry filling, and white buttercream. So I should mention that wedding cakes are quite expensive. This can be quite an issue on a budget. However Matt’s Mom wanted a traditional cake so she would have the traditional lovely cake cutting pictures. My solution was to order a sheet cake (from the nice grocery store) done up in white and a very small two tiered cake for the pictures. The 1/2 sheet cake feeds 50 according to the stores calculations (these are for very small sliced by the way) and costs about $20. The tiered cake should feed about 30 (I know I said small right? Tiniest I could get was an 8 inch on the bottom and a 6 inch on the top.), and costs $57. I figure this means we can serve not huge but nice sized portions of cake. When they calculate how many it feeds they are talking about really tiny slices. Also, the flavors on both cakes match so that we won’t have any issues with people wanting chocolate and getting vanilla, etc.
So on to estimating quantities. A few general rules/thoughts:
- Estimate 6-8oz of meat per guest. However, if you are serving more then one meat estimate 4oz per each meat, per guest, for a total of 8oz per guest.
- Side dishes are tricky. Sometimes you measure in volume, sometimes by weight. Sometimes ingredients expand when cooked (i.e. pasta) so you need to remember you are estimating cooked volume, but will be buying by dry weight. However, generally you want to account for:
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup of pasta per guest. (If you’re serving a number of sides you can air towards the 1/2, however if you want to serve only one side go for the cup.)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup for potatoes per guest. (That’s 4-5oz by weight.)
- For salad go for 3 oz per person, or a large handful.
- For most other sides a 4oz. portion per guest is a pretty safe bet.
- For rolls estimate 2 per person. I suggest tossing in a bit of extra just for insurance.
Also for your reference here is my calculation chart that goes with my menu:
After the wedding I’ll get back with you and let you know how well my estimating worked out. Until then wish us luck! In addition you might want to check out these resources for estimating quantity/catering a wedding. I found them very helpful.