How Much Food Is Right For A BBQ?

The first day of Summer has arrived, which means good food, good brews, and a good time. Barbecues are the most popular summer function, and they’re always a good time. If you’re hosting a barbecue, you may be wondering how much food is appropriate to purchase. On the one hand, you don’t want to over purchase, as this can result in food waste and an emptier wallet. On the other hand, buying too little food will cause early depletion. It’s difficult to find that sweet spot of spending since everyone is different, but here are a few guidelines to make your life a bit easier:


Alcohol is undoubtedly the most important party supply. They say the typical ratio for each person is one drink per hour. Make sure to stock up on enough beer, wine, and mixers so you can provide an array of options for your guests. Of course, there’s always the option to make the party BYOB, which simplifies the process and saves you money.


You can’t have a barbecue without the meat! Deciding on what type of meat you need can be a challenge. This mainly depends on your guest list. For example, your adult guests will probably eat 2 hamburgers. Assuming that’s the maximum, that means each adult will need a 1/2 lb. of meat. This differs among meals. If you’re serving brisket, the rule is to cook 1 lb. per guest due to shrinkage. And if you’re going the rib route (and I sincerely hope you would), you will require much more since the bone can cause miscalculation of actual meat. The general amount of meat you should provide per guest is about 8-12 oz.

Side Dishes

Side dishes are also a supplementary staple. You should expect your guests to eat 1/2-1 cup of each side dish they enjoy. And remember; The more you have out, the less will be consumed. Coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans are great go-tos since they are the most widely eaten. Because of how filling they can be, this will also cut down on your overhead.


By the time your guests are finished with the main course, they won’t have too much room for dessert. With that being said, you should still plan on providing about 3-4 oz. of each dessert you’re serving. Individual portions are a good idea, but keep in mind guests may take more than one. If it’s a cookie, bank on 2-3 being nabbed in one sitting.