On average, 6 to 8 ounces of meat per person is a good serving estimate. The amount of meat needed per person varies depending on the type of meat and the other foods served.
If one main dish is offered, plan on 6 ounces of meat per person. For two main dish options, 4 ounces of each option for a total of 8 ounces is sufficient. For appetizers that include meat, count on four to six appetizers per person per hour if no meal is to be served later. For appetizers that accompany a meal, plan on six appetizers per person.
For meals featuring turkey, plan on 1.5 pounds per person for large turkeys, which are those that weigh more than 15 pounds. If the turkey is smaller, estimate 2 pounds per person. Smaller turkeys have less meat compared to bones, so the weight per person must be higher. For example, an 18-pound turkey should feed approximately 12 people, while a 14-pound turkey may feed only about seven people.
Other tips to keep in mind when estimating the amount of meat needed per person include always rounding estimates up to prevent shortages, overestimating the amount needed for a popular appetizer or meat, and finding ways to bulk up a meal to keep meat consumption down. If the minimum amount of meat is offered, provide plenty of bread, sides and other options to keep guests full and happy.