Holiday Hosting Portion Planner

When in doubt, plan it out. Deciding on how much to buy and cook for a holiday gathering can be daunting, but it goes a long way toward reducing food waste. Use this handy chart and our tips as a guide. 

By Christine Tizzard

Tips for Party Portion Planning

For guaranteed crowd-pleasers — we're looking at you, shrimp ring! — err on the side of more.

With more variety on the table, plan smaller portions per person. On the flip side, fewer choices will mean each person will eat larger portions from each dish.

To put your mind at ease, have a few non-perishable snacks, such as pretzels, popcorn and nuts, on hand just in case there are unexpected guests.

It’s always safe to round up estimates slightly, as some leftovers are always welcome.

Appetizers & Small Bites

Pre-dinner nibbles
4 to 6 bites per person

Party where only small bites are served
6 bites per hour per person

Bread, rolls & biscuits
3 oz (85 g) or 1 to 2 slices or pieces

Mains & Sides

Protein (raw)
Poultry: boneless 6 oz (170 g) per person; bone-in 1 lb (455 g) per person
Beef, Lamb & Pork: boneless 6 oz (170 g) per person; bone-in ¾ lb (340 g) per person
Tofu/Plant-Based Protein: 6 oz (170 g) per person

Grains & Rice (uncooked)
⅓ cup (80 mL) as a side per person
Pasta (dry uncooked)

2 oz (55 g) as a side per person
4 oz (115 g) as a main per person

Potatoes: 6 oz (170 g) per person
All other vegetables: 3 oz (85 g) per person

Hearty chopped salads: 1 cup (250 mL) per person
Leafy lettuce salads: 2 cups (500 mL) per person


Cakes, Pies & Tarts
1 slice or tart per person

Pudding, Custard & Mousse
½ cup (125 mL) per person

Cookies & Squares
2 pieces per person

Ice Cream & Gelato
½ cup (125 mL) per person

Fruit Salad or Cut Fruit
½ cup (125 mL) per person

More waste saving tips

Save your scraps

Every day we trim and discard food scraps that still have something left to give. From celery stumps to baguette ends to chicken wing tips, these items have flavour and nutrients we can use. So before you toss out any foods, imagine other ways to use them up. A rockhard Parmesan rind will add a hit of cheesy umami to vegetable soups, and stale bread can be turned into bread crumbs or croutons. One recipe that can be made entirely from scraps is vegetable stock. Stockpile fennel tops, herb stems, onion cores and other clean vegetable trimmings in a reusable bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, you’re ready to make free vegetable stock. Note: Avoid trimmings from bitter vegetables, such as rapini, or strongly coloured veg, like beets and red cabbage.

Baking hacks

Here are a few simple ideas to minimize waste during your holiday baking session.

Make those tried-and-true holiday favourites while cutting down on waste.

Save butter wrappers in the fridge to grease baking pans.

Freeze egg whites for other delicious treats, including meringues and financiers.

Extend the shelf life of nuts and seeds bystoring them in the freezer for up to one year. Wrap and freeze puff pastry scraps for our scrumptious Leftover Cheese Board Savoury Palmiers.