Planning a whole dinner party can sometimes feel like a giant logic puzzle: if we serve this dessert, then we'll do that appetizer, but if that person comes, then we won't serve that, and on and on! Deciding out how much meat to buy per person is all part of the game. How do you figure it out?
We usually work backwards by looking at what else we're serving, how the meat is going to be used, and what kind of appetites we think our guests will have.
If the meat is the main feature, as in steak or pork chops with only a few side dishes, we usually go for about 3/4 pound (12 ounces) per person. If the side dishes are more substantial, we'll drop that down to 1/2 or even 1/3 pound (5-8 ounces).
If the meat is going into something, like a pasta ragout or a curry, we'll estimate 1/4 to 1/3 pound (4-6 ounces) per person.
There's usually a little more wiggle room in terms of number of servings with a large roast than there is with individually cut steaks or chicken breasts. If we're really unsure about how much people will eat, we stay away from dishes with those individual cuts and go for a recipe that gives us more leeway for portioning.
How do you figure out how much meat you'll need per person?
(Originally published March 31, 2012)