Dinner Party Meal Planning

I’ve had several friends ask me about determining portion size for dinner parties, an essential part of hosting a successful one. I sketched the drawing above as a simple snapshot of the “trifecta” I use when meal planning for large parties. It’s totally unscientific but I think it’s really helpful.  The idea is simple — dinner is made up of 3 parts: starch, veggie, protein. Once you pick your recipes remember these rules before heading to the grocery store:

  • 1 cup of dry starch (risotto, rice, polenta etc.) = 4 servings. If you are using potatoes: 1 russet for 2 people, 2-3 red potatoes for 1 person, 3-4 fingerlings for 1 person.
  • 1 cup of veggie = 1 serving. 1 zucchini= 2 servings, 1 bunch of asparagus = 4 servings. One carton or head of lettuce =4 people for simple salad, 6 people if you drag it through the garden
  • 6 oz/ 1 fist of protein= 1 serving. I think I learned this from Richard Simmons so I can’t take credit, but idea is to serve 6 oz. (size when uncooked) of protein which is about the size of your fist. The butcher or fish guy can easily help with this too since they normally weigh everything for you.  I could recommend rounding to the next 1/2 lb for good measure. So, for a 6 person dinner party: 6 people x 6 oz = 36 oz or 2.25lbs —> ask the counter for 2.5lbs. For shrimp and scallops: 4 scallops=1 serving, 4 colossal shrimp= 1 serving, 6 jumbo shrimp= 1 serving
  • Add an “Elijah” serving e.g. always add 1 more person to the meal planning for leftovers/in case something burns/someone arrives who didn’t RSVP (gasp!).

I’ve kept the post short so you can print and post onto the fridge or add to your recipe book for easy reference. This is how I meal plan but would love to hear other tips and tricks!

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