How many carrots per person?

It can be tricky to know how much food to buy at Christmas. And, with figures from the Ceuta Group revealing that as a nation we throw out a huge 5 million Christmas puddings and over 7 million pigs and blankets over the festive period, many of us will be looking at how we can cut down our food waste.

Buying the right amount of food will not only help reduce food waste, it will also help cut the cost of Christmas. With American Express revealing we spend a hefty £102 each on food shopping for Christmas day, cutting back on cost is probably a welcoming prospect for many!

So, just how do you work out how much food and drink you need when you’re feeding the five thousand? Here are the answers to the nine key questions the GH cooks are always asked about feeding a crowd…

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What size turkey do I need?

To feed eight people, you will want a turkey weighing a minimum of 3.5kg to satisfy your dinner guests.

Check out our turkey taste test for a range of delicious turkeys that will feed a variety of guest, from smaller crowns for four people to whole turkeys for up to twelve people.

What size roast?

Decided not to feed your guests turkey this year? If the joint is off the bone, allow 250g per serving – so 2kg for eight people.

Allow 350g per serving for roasts on the bone – around 3kg for eight.

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What about roasties?

No Christmas dinner would be complete without roasties. Make 250g per person – you’ll need 2kg for eight people.

GHI TIP: Are you catering for children, too? For five to ten-years-olds, allow roughly two-thirds of what an adult would eat.

How much is enough stuffing?

If you’re buying stuffing, we recommend at least 170g to feed eight people.

Don’t forget to buy the best tasting stuffing as rated by the GHI in our annual Christmas taste tests.

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I don’t want to be left with sprouts! How many should I prepare?

Whether you love them or loathe them, we recommend making a minimum of 880g for eight people.

If you end up with leftovers, try using them in this recipe from our cookery experts at Good Housekeeping.

Enough carrots and other roast vegetables?

80g-100g is about right for any serving of vegetables, so you’ll need roughly 800g for eight people.

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Will one pot of cranberry sauce be enough?

As a rule of thumb, we recommend a jar of cranberry sauce weighing at least 200g for eight people.

Alternatively, try making your own cranberry sauce using this recipe.

How much gravy do you need?

With gravy, make a minimum of 50ml per person – that’s 400ml for eight people. But, if your family are real gravy fans, prepare more!

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What about bread sauce?

We recommend 75ml-100ml per serving. So 800ml in total to serve eight should be plenty. Find a recipe here.

Anyone for pudding?

When it comes to Christmas pudding, we reckon a 900g pudding will be plenty to feed eight.

The same measurement applies to Christmas cake – 900g should be plenty for eight people.

Our 1.3kg Christmas cake taste test winner contains 22 servings, so plenty for leftovers to enjoy with a cup of tea!

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Not sure how much food to buy? We’ve given rough quantities for you below. All the weights are given prior to preparation and cooking – simply multiply by the number of guests you’ve got coming.

If you’ve got big eaters, want leftovers or have a smallish number of people (4-6), then go for the higher of the two amounts for meat and roast potatoes. We suggest 240g (3 x 80g) total vegetables per person, 80g is how much you need to eat to make it count as one of your five-a-day, if you’d rather count the number of veg per head, then our handy guide will help. If you’re serving more than three vegetables, you can reduce the weight of individual ones.

Print out this page, fill in your quantities and take it shopping. All quantities are based on adult-sized portions.

How much turkey per person?

An average portion of cooked turkey meat per person should be 140-175g, but as you tend to buy turkey as a whole bird it’s easiest to use the turkey guide below. The meat-to-bone ratio will vary depend on the breed of turkey so bear this in mind as well, and if budget is tight, big up the sausages, stuffing balls and veg, and go easy on the turkey.

Food type Per person My total
Turkey 140-175g
Roast potatoes 225g-250g
Stuffing balls 2-3
Pigs in blankets 2-3
Brussels sprouts 80g
Carrots 80g
Parsnips 80g
Gravy 120ml
Bread sauce 80g
Cranberry sauce 25g

How to calculate catering quantities per person

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If you are planning a big party or event and you are not sure how much food to cater for each person attending, use our guide on catering quantities per person below.

When you are catering an event, catering too much or too little can always be a concern. This guide on catering quantities are typical portion sizes you can serve per person and will ensure that your guests will not leave your dinner party or event hungry.

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  • Beef fillet: 200g per person
  • Beef joints on the bone: 320g per person
  • Canapés: 4 – 5 with drinks; 10 – 14 for main per person
  • Chicken breasts: 1 per person
  • Whole chicken: 1,5kg will feed 4
  • Fish fillets: 180g – 200g per person
  • Lamb chops: 2 per person
  • Cubed lamb: 225g trimmed per person
  • Lamb cutlets: 3 – 4 per person
  • Mince for burgers and pies: 170g per person
  • Mince for pasta:110g per person
  • Pasta: 80g for a starter; 100g for main per person
  • Potatoes: 110g – 185g per person
  • Shelled prawns:150g for a starter; 300g for main per person
  • Rice: 60g for a starter; 30g for a side dish per person
  • Soup: 300ml for a starter; 500ml for main per person

If you are unsure of what recipes to cook for a large crowd, then try one of these delicious crowd-pleasing recipes:

Emmental- crispy bacon and rosemary baked sliders

Great for when you have guests coming over or need to feed a large crowd! The mildness of Emmental is particularly delicious when accompanied by smokiness and freshness. Emmental, crispy bacon and rosemary baked sliders are the perfect flavour combination, and such an easy supper!


Slow-roasted lamb shoulder and chickpeas with preserved lemon, pistachio and mint pesto

A perfect roast for Sunday lunch.

Heirloom tomato tarte Tatin

The tomatoes become wonderfully tender with a touch of crispiness, and are especially delicious with golden, buttery crust. Perfect for brunch or a light lunch.

Beef Wellington with festive red wine gravy

For this delicious Beef Wellington, you’ll need festive wine gravy for that extra special holiday cheer.

Peppermint Crisp ice-cream cake

The proof of this nostalgic classic-turned-vogue dessert lies in its legacy, taking a contemporary turn for the even better.

Whole spice and tahini roasted cauliflower with almond and herb pesto

The fairest cauli of them all! Something about slicing up a whole cauliflower to serve, like you would a roast, feels very ceremonious – perfect for serving when entertaining, or as a simple weeknight meal. This dish is filled with the nourishing benefits of veggies, herbs and spices, and has a good dose of healthy fats too.

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How much should you serve of this, that? Let’s do the math

If you start roasting a 14-pound turkey at 375 degrees at 7 a.m. and need to feed 15 people — including three vegetarians, a vegan and two gluten intolerants — by 1 p.m., how many pounds of cranberries do you need if the stuffing is baked outside the bird and the pumpkin pie is cut into 11.75 equal wedges? • Or am I the only cook who suffers flashbacks to grade school word problems every time I try to calculate the many mathematical angles of assembling Thanksgiving dinner? • Fear not. I took one for the turkey team and did the math for you, sorting out all the numbers you need, from how many people different size turkeys feed to how many pounds of carrots and cans of cranberry sauce you’ll want for making sure your crowd leaves the table stuffed. • And because this is Thanksgiving, all serving estimates are generous to allow for plenty of seconds and leftovers.

How much?

For turkeys less than 16 pounds, estimate 1 pound per serving (this accounts for bone weight). For larger birds, a bit less is fine; they have a higher meat-to-bone ratio. But if your goal is to have very ample leftovers, aim for 1 ½ pounds per person no matter how big the turkey is. For four or fewer people, a turkey breast might be the best buy.

For 8 people, buy a 12-pound turkey

For 10 people, buy a 15-pound turkey

For 12 people, buy an 18-pound turkey

For 14 people, buy a 21-pound turkey

The big thaw

The safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. You’ll need about 24 hours per 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. For speedier thawing, put the turkey in a sink of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and plan for about 30 minutes per pound.

The brine

A good brine uses kosher salt and sugar in a 1-to-1 ratio, and usually no more than 1 cup of each. Feel free to add any other seasonings. Brines typically are made by heating the salt, sugar and seasonings with a bit of water until dissolved. This mixture then is diluted with additional cold water (volume will vary depending on the size of your bird). Be certain the brine is completely cooled before adding the turkey.

Turkeys should be brined for at least 8 to 10 hours, but can go as long as 72 hours. A good rule of thumb is, the longer the brine, the weaker the brine. So for a 10-hour soak, use 1 cup each of salt and sugar. For a longer one, consider backing down to ¾ cup each.

Always keep the bird refrigerated during brining. If the turkey is too big, an ice-filled cooler stored outside works.

The roast

Roasting temperatures vary widely by recipe. Some go at a slow and steady 325 degrees. Others crank the heat to 400 or 425 degrees for the first hour, then drop it down for the rest of the time.

However you roast, use an instant thermometer inserted at the innermost part of the thigh (without touching bone) to determine when your turkey is done. The meat needs to hit 165 degrees for safe eating, though some people say thigh meat tastes better at 170 degrees.

If the outside of the bird gets too dark before the center reaches the proper temperature, cover it with foil.

The following roasting time estimates are based on a stuffed turkey cooked at 325 degrees. Reduce cooking time by 20 to 40 minutes for turkeys that are not stuffed (estimate total roasting times at 15 minutes per pound for unstuffed birds). And remember, a crowded oven cooks more slowly, so plan ahead if your bird needs to share the space.

12-pound turkey: 3 to 4 hours at 325 degrees

15-pound turkey: 4 to 4 ½ hours at 325 degrees

18-pound turkey: 4 ½ to 5 hours at 325 degrees

21-pound turkey: 5 to 6 hours at 325 degrees

The baste

Basting the bird with its juices helps crisp the skin and flavor the meat. Do it every 30 minutes, but no more. Opening the oven door too frequently lets heat escape and can significantly slow the cooking.

The rest

The turkey should never go directly from the oven to the table. Like most meat, it needs to rest before serving for the juices to redistribute. Cover the turkey with foil and a few bath towels layered over that (to keep it warm), then let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

The sides

Carrots: A 1-pound bag makes 4 to 5 servings.

Cranberry sauce: A 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries makes about 2 ¼ cups of sauce; a 16-ounce can has 6 servings.

Gravy: Plan for ⅓ cup of gravy per person.

Green beans: 1 ½ pounds of beans makes 6 to 8 servings.

Mashed potatoes: A 5-pound bag of potatoes makes 12 to 16 servings.

Stuffing: A 14-ounce bag of stuffing makes about 11 servings.

The leftovers

For food safety reasons, leftovers should be cleared from the table and refrigerated within 2 hours of being served. Once refrigerated, they should be consumed within three to four days. Leftovers can be frozen for three to four months. Though safe to consume after four months, they will start to taste off.

Asking how much food you should buy for Christmas dinner can be like asking how long a piece of string is.

We’re sure we aren’t alone in cramming our fridge full of goodies for the big celebration, only to find that by Boxing Day we’ve still got enough Christmas food left to last a week and can’t stand the thought of yet another turkey sandwich…

So to help you save money, and food waste, we asked Anthony Horn, Head Chef of B&H Buildings, exactly how much Christmas food you need to buy (that’s how many grams of everything) and what you can do with the leftovers (if there are any).

Anthony’s top Christmas food shopping tip? Buying your groceries at local markets or grocers means that you are more likely to get a great deal. Do your research and see if there’s a weekly market that’s near you or even a drive away. What you spend on the petrol to get there you’ll save by making friends with the veg man and buying all your produce in one go. Same for your cheese, meat, and even booze.

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How much food do I need to buy for a Christmas starter?

Each family has different Christmas traditions, but the classic way to commence the meal is with a light and fresh fish starter. Whether this is a crab pate, retro prawn cocktail or simple smoked salmon, Anthony recommends buying about 120 grams of fish per person.

Larger group recommendation: “If you’re catering for over 10 this year, why not buy a whole side of smoked salmon? There are some amazing local smoking houses dotted around the UK and a lot of them allow you to order online. Smoked salmon also keeps well so you can place your order in advance and is super easy to prep,” Anthony advises, “You could also cure your own salmon if feeling adventurous!”

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The chef recommends serving your smoked salmon with celeriac and mustard coleslaw for a refreshing and light Christmas day starter. “You can buy a whole celeriac for this and use the whole thing if your party size is 6-8 people. If you’re catering for a smaller group, use half and throw the rest of the celeriac in with your roasted carrots and parsnips.”

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How much turkey do I need to buy for Christmas dinner?

Unlike the starter, there are many parts to turkey and all the trimmings so to make it easy, Anthony’s recommendations are as follows:

Chosen meat: 200g (cooked) per person. When buying a turkey for a family of four you should go for a six-pound turkey, this will also allow for leftovers that you can enjoy on Boxing Day. However, if you are concentrating on your Christmas dinner only, get a four pound turkey for four people.

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For a family of eight go for a 12 pound turkey. Again, this will allow to make lovely turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day. However, if you don’t want too much leftovers get an eight pound turkey.

How many potatoes do I need to buy for Christmas dinner?

Roasted root vegetables: 250 grams per person. This equates to one carrot and one parsnip each.

Potatoes: 100 grams per person (2 medium sized potatoes)

Sprouts: 80-100 grams per person (5 sprouts)

Red Cabbage: 50g per person – average cabbage is 1 kilo

How much Christmas pudding do I need to buy?

Sometimes it feels like we have a separate stomach specially for dessert – because even when we can’t think about a roast potato without feeling nauseas, we somehow still manage to sit back up for the Christmas pudding. So, this is what Anthony recommends portion wise to make sure there’s enough to go round:

Christmas Pudding: 125 grams per person

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How much cheese do I need to buy for Christmas?

Buy less cheese, but bigger pieces as these store better. Aim for 100-125 grams of cheese per person if served after a meal or 150 grams per person if served later as a snack. “It’s best to buy three or four cheeses,” Anthony suggests. “A classic combination is cheddar, stilton and brie (hard, soft and blue) or if you’re more adventurous could try adding a goats cheese, smoked applewood, Cornish Yarg or a good old stinky camembert.”

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Happy Christmas – and happy cooking!

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Anya Meyerowitz Anya is a freelance editor and journalist with a penchant for coats, shoes and handbags.

How to Make Basic Roast Potatoes

In our house, my wife is Queen of the All Things Potato. She makes the best mashed potatoes, twice baked potatoes, baked potatoes and my kids can’t get enough of her roasted potatoes. Her method of preparing these roasted tubers is simple and described below.

I already have a two-step recipe for Awesome Roasted Potatoes from Chef JoAnna Minneci, a personal chef to the stars. Her method is to first boil the potatoes for a minute before roasting. This is a great way to prepare roasted potatoes but like many of you, we don’t always have the time or desire to execute this 2-step process.

My wife skips the boiling step but has a few other tips for making incredibly delicious roasted spuds. One of them to make sure all the potatoes are the same size.

You can either quarter larger potatoes so they are all the same size or cook baby potatoes that are similar in size. Having the potatoes all the same size ensures even cooking.

In the photo above, we roasted both purple potatoes and fingerling potatoes because that’s what we had on hand and needed to use them up. I suppose a restaurant would only serve one kind but that’s the beauty of cooking at home – you can serve them any way you want.

How Many Potatoes?

How many you prepare doesn’t really matter for this recipe. It’s more important that you don’t overcrowd the roasting pan to prevent the potatoes from steaming rather than roasting.

You can see from my tips for great mashed potatoes, I suggest 1/3 to 1/2 pound of raw potatoes per person but in actuality, it really depends on who’s eating them. Your son who’s in college and is bulking up for his school’s sport team is going to eat a lot more potatoes than your 80 year old aunt who visits on holidays.

So for this recipe we’ll say 2 pounds for 4 people. That’s most likely going to be too many but these potatoes are great for making home fries the following morning.

Simple Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Prep Time5 mins Cook Time25 mins Total Time30 mins Course: Side Dish Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds potatoes washed, dried & cut into equal size pieces if necessary
  • olive oil for coating potatoes
  • salt
  • spray olive oil for coating roasting pan

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Prep the potatoes by cutting them to equal sized pieces if necessary and then coat with oil. Most recipes say to do this right in the roasting pan.
  • I prefer to transfer them to a bowl, add the oil, season with salt and give them a big stir. This way I know I’m going to get all of them coated.
  • I always feel I’m not getting them coated completely when I try to coat them in the pan.
  • Spray the bottom of your roasting pan with spray olive oil. You may think this is necessary, but we’ve found it prevents the potatoes from sticking even though they are coated with oil.
  • Place the roasting pan into the preheated oven and roast for 20 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are done. Halfway through the cooking process, carefully flip the potatoes using a large heatproof spatula.

Notes

How will you know when the potatoes are done? We test them by sticking a fork or wooden skewer into them and feeling for tenderness. If it goes in easy with little or no resistance, the potatoes are done. You’ll also notice some crispiness to them which makes all the difference in the world. There’s nothing like oven roasted potatoes that are perfectly cooked – tender on the inside, crisp on the outside. My wife serves these potatoes all the time because the kids love them. As do I.