Meeting Planners Tip Sheet – Food


Here’s the second in a series of five quick tip sheets for meeting and event professionals regarding food and beverage, site selections and handling professional speakers. It’s also a great resource sheet for those who must handle meeting logistics for their organization’s meetings and need some insight.



Amount to serve:

  • 1 item (bagel, muffin or pastry) per person for 75-90% of attendees
  • Example: For 100 people, order 75 to 90 items (Generally 10% of attendees will not show for breakfast)


  • Bagels and muffins are usually the most popular.
  • Order conservatively as it is simple to add more cold food if needed.
  • If you’re doing a multiple day event, be sure to change it up each day.
  • Consider putting the buffet table outside the meeting room to limit attendees from returning to the buffet once the meeting begins. If you do this, you may need signage stating who the buffet is for to discourage those outside of your meeting from consuming.
  • If you have left over pastries, ask to put out for the AM break or have them delivered to your office or committee meeting.


Lunch/Dinner Buffet

Amount to serve:

  • 0.8-1.5 entrees per person
  • 1 beverage station per 75-100 guests
  • 1 double-sided food station per 75-100 guests


  • Estimate 50% chicken, 40-45% beef or fish and 5-10% vegetarian
  • One server for every 30-40 people for buffet style
  • Too get an accurate count of the number of attendees served, count empty place settings with folded napkins and subtract from total seats. Alternatively, you can count the number of main plates and subtract the number remaining after the function.


Passed Hors d’oeuvres

Amount to serve:

  • Before dinner – 4-6 per person or one of each kind per person
  • Reception only – 8-12 per person (passed and buffet combo)


  • To conserve on food, use butler passed hors d’oeuvres instead of buffet style
  • If you are serving hors d’oeuvres on a buffet, use small plates to help stretch consumption



If the hotel’s menu prices don’t meet your budget, work with your catering manager or chef to design a meal within your budget. All things are negotiable; with so many dietary needs and other factors. Your venue will be more than willing to working with you.