How Many Catering Trays – How Much Food Does A Full Tray Feed?

Catering for an event can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to the amount of food you need to serve. 

While food is something we all need, it is rare to meet two people who eat the exact same amount of food a day, as different people require different levels of sustenance.

How Many Catering Trays - How Much Food Does A Full Tray Feed

Because of this, it can be hard to determine the number of dishes you need to prepare, as some platters can serve more than others.

So if you want to know how many people a full tray feeds, then you have come to the right place. This article has all the information you need. 

Wondering about individual items quantities? Read our post, How Many Appetisers Do I Need For 150 Guests

How Many People Does A Full Tray Feed?

When it comes to catering a large event, you can either serve half trays or full trays, which offer differing amounts of food. In most cases, a half tray will feed around 8 – 10 people, while a full tray 15 – 20. 

However, these numbers can vary depending on the number of guests, their ages (children generally eat less), the time of day and various other factors. Indeed, as it is possible to serve dishes that can cater to between 25 – 40 people.

In most cases, a catering tray will measure 12-inches by 10-inches. Clearly, you can use 2 half trays to feed a large crowd with the same amount as a full tray. 

Half trays are commonly used to serve side dishes and smaller entrees. In contrast, full trays tends to be used for the main dish. In certain cases, a full catering tray can feed up to 45 people – this includes side dishes and salads. 

Rather than rustling up trays of food yourself, you could hire a caterer. See our piece on Costco Catering for their menu and prices

How Much Food Should You Serve?

In the catering world, there is a general rule of thumb that should be followed when catering an event: 

  • If you are catering for a grand event without dinner, then you will need to serve 10-15 pieces per person. 
  • If you are catering for a dinner event, then you will need to serve 3-5 appetisers for each person. It is also advisable to serve lighter options, if the dinner is served in the afternoon. 

Of course, things can change during the actual event. However, if you follow these rules then you should be able to cater to everyone.

Are you thinking of going in to the catering business? See our piece on, What You Need To Know Before Starting

What Is The Best Way To Set Up A Chafer?

What Is The Best Way To Set Up A Chafer

Chafers are catering dishes that use an indirect heat source to keep the food warm, which allows it to remain fresh during the day. In most cases, is some form of bain-marie. This is when the dish the food is in sits in a shallow pan of water which is being kept warm. The warmth usually either comes from an electric heating element, or burners.

These dishes are perfect for catering events, as they are capable of keeping the food warm for up to six hours. However, it is important to note that chafers should never be used to cook the food, as they do not produce sufficient heat. 

Are you thinking of getting married? Check out our Catering Food Ideas For Engagement Parties.

Setting up a chafer is one of the many obstacles that a caterer has to face, which is why we have decided to outline the process in the section below: 

How To Set Up Your Chafer 

  1. Take the metal frame and place it on a flat and stable surface, this is where your main dish will be served. 
  2. Once the frame has been set up, place the water pan on top and check to see if it remains secure. 
  3. For the next step, place the two sternos under the water pan in the frame, this is where the heat will come from. 
  4. When you have completed the steps above, you can start serving the food. However, you will need to remember that the sides of the pan are hot. 

Of course, chafers are not the only dishes available to caterers, as there are various dishes you can use. If you want to learn more about some of these, please read on.

Why not theme your event to a specific cuisine? See our Nigerian Catering Foods Ideas for some inspiration

How Much Food Does A Lasagne Tray Feed?

Despite their name, lasagne trays can be used to make a wide range of dishes, from casseroles to bakes. In most cases, a standard lasagne tray can feed around 12 – 15 people. 

However, it is important to note that these numbers can fluctuate depending on the number of guests and the dish you decide to make. 

Parties can become predictable, so change things up with a Paella Party.

How Many People Does An Aluminium Pan Feed?

Disposable aluminium pans have also become a prominent tool in the catering industry, as they keep the food warm and can serve large portions.

In most cases, 3 aluminium pans will contain around 20 portions each, which equals around 60 portions for a large crowd of people. 

Aluminium pans are capable of holding up to 7 – 8 quarts of food, depending on whether the food is wet or more solid. Because of this, aluminium pans are commonly used to serve soup and pasta bakes. 

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most Popular Catering Dishes

How Much Does A Chafer Pan Feed?

As we previously mentioned, chafer pans are ideal for parties and events, as they keep food warm for several hours. Full-size chafer pans usually have a depth of 2 ½-inches, which rounds out to 7 – 8 quarts and around 50 portions. 

But what’s the point of having these pans if you have nothing to put in them? In the section below, we have outlined some delicious ideas for catering food.

Trying to decide, How Much Food Do I Need For A Party? Read this.

What Food Should You Make For A Party?

There are countless dishes you can make for a celebration, whether that be macaroni cheese or delicious cake pops. 

Here are some ideas for fabulous catering food: 

  • Deviled eggs 
  • Mini meatballs on a stick 
  • Pineapple with bacon
  • Loaded potato skins 
  • Smoked salmon on bellinis 
  • Garlic mushrooms 
  • Chocolate fondue bar 

See our piece on Festival Catering Food Ideas for more suggestions

Final Thoughts

A full catering tray is capable of feeding up to 45 people. However, this number can change depending on various factors such as the food and event. 

There are countless serving dishes available to caterers, which include shallow pans and self-warming chafers. Each of these dishes can serve a different number of people, so it’s best to do some research before offering your services.

Dylan Cole

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