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Cooking for Parties/Picnic Reception


Hi, my husband and I got married in Vegas a few weeks ago, but after some pressure from our families have decided to have a very low key picnic reception of about 75-80 people. I am still finalizing the guest list but am at about 70 confirmed. It will be a buffet style with myself, mom, and sister making the majority of the food. I am trying to figure out how to make sure I have enough food for people to comfortably eat what they'd like and not have an exorbitant amount left over - this happened at my niece's Quincenierra. Our menu is looking like:

1. Fried chicken - should I do only breasts and legs or keep it mixed and how much?

2. Baked ziti - how much dry pasta & sauce?

3. Ham Bbq - how much meat, sauce, rolls?

4. Baked beans - quantity of beans?

5. Linguini salad - how much pasta & dressing?

6. Cheese potatoes- quantity of potatoes?

7. Coleslaw - quantity of cabbage?

I wi be doing a variety of store bought desserts in addition to a mid-sized cake, so people have a variety and can choose what they like. Do you think this is too much variety of should I narrow it down? Also, do you think I need a salad or raw veggies/dip option? Oh, and I'm planning on doing a small assortment of chip type snacks on the tables. The event is on the 5th of September and this is driving me crazy. I know it's a lot to ask and I'll appreciate any advice you can give. TIA!

Walmart cake
Walmart cake  
OMG you are going to have WAYYYY too much food and you are going to have a TON of leftovers and waste.
You have 3 entrees which is too many and your sides don't compliment your entrees because they are starch-heavy sides in addition to starch heavy entrees.  If you will trust me, I will give you a better late summer menu that won't have your guests falling asleep with starch overload after dinner as well as the assortment of sugared desserts they will not be able to eat without going into a carb coma.

Fried Chicken. No one hates fried chicken. You will need 2.4 pieces of chicken per person and the breasts and legs are the best.  Figure 1.5 breasts per person and 1 leg per person and you will have plenty.

Coleslaw is a natural with fried chicken and cheese potatoes would also be delicious to round out the meal and I'd also suggest a melon slice such as honeydew or cantaloupe, figure 1.2 slices per person and 8 slices per melon so you will need about 12 melons to slice. You will need 5 oz of slaw per person. You will need 6 oz of cheese potatoes per person.

Bread: Standard dinner rolls with butter are always nice, figure 1.5 rolls per person and 1 oz of butter per person so 3 lbs of butter cut into 1 TBS pats will be plenty and you want to pre-slice and put on an ice bed which will prevent waste.

Dessert: If you are having a wedding cake, you don't need any other sweets.  People don't really eat that many sweets unless you are having a coffee and dessert reception, so don't do anything but the wedding cake. I also strongly recommend you go to Wal-Mart and look at their cakes--they are beautiful and very reasonably priced.  A 3-tier cake that will feed everyone with some leftovers to take home in chocolate or vanilla will be about $125.  I've gotten cakes from Wal-Mart for dozens of my brides and they are fresh-baked and delicious and NO ONE could believe it came from Wal-Mart. They need 2 days of notice and all their bakeries make wedding cakes, they'll have a book you can look through and they have some gorgeous cakes.  Take a look, you'll be surprised.  Also, most major grocery store bakeries will also have wedding cakes available--a bit more money but still FAR FAR cheaper than what a wedding cake specialist will charge.  I've attached a photo of a Wal-mart cake from MY wedding--it was delicious!

If you need further help, you can call me since you have a time crunch.  757-746-5358 is my cell and we can discuss this if you like. If you need help with the math, let me know and I'll help with that too.

Trust me, this will be plenty of food and won't leave your guests in a food coma.  

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Teri Davis Newman


I am a wedding and party planner in St. Louis, Missouri and I do weddings and parties all over the country! My brides are my number one priority as I understand how important their wedding day is to them! Any questions about catering and cooking for large groups. This would include recipes, cooking techniques, what to serve, how to prevent food poisoning, food storage and food integrity. I have thousands of recipes that are scaled for large groups and gatherings and will be happy to share them! If you are in need of professional assistance for helping you to plan your wedding, party or corporate event, please feel free to contact me! I do a limited amount of weddings and parties every year in order to make sure that I have the best service for my clientele. Feel free to visit my business website at this address: WWW.EXQUISITEEVENTSUSA.COM for detailed information on what services I offer. I have price point weddings for every budget--no matter what size and I am very specific about what you get for your hard-earned money.


Catering and parties are a large part of the restaurant business. I do a lot of catering for local parties and weddings.
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