View Full Version : How much meat do I need?

04-12-2009, 04:51 PM
Due to popular demand from the family, I've been coerced into cooking for our upcoming family reunion. Actually, my sister that hosting it this year was going to order carryout from a local mass market chain, and I said that I could likely do it cheaper and almost certainly better.

I finally have a headcount - about 40 adults and young kids. I cooked for some of us at an impromptu "mini-reunion" last year and made pulled pork, chicken and baby backs - it was all well received, especially the pulled pork.

I'm trying to get a handle on how much meat to buy so that I can give my sister an estimate on costs.

I'm thinking 4 butts, six whole chickens, 12 racks of ribs, and a brisket flat.

Some of you folks that have more experience cooking for a crowd - does that sound like I'm in the ballpark?

04-13-2009, 08:18 AM
I'm getting ready to host a church party with 35-40. Like you I'm going with 4 butts, one of which I can keep in reserve. I'll do a brisket, and 10-12 lbs of legs and thighs. I'm also doing 4-5 lbs of baked beans. We have about 6-7 different sides coming. Good luck and hope the weather is good.

04-13-2009, 09:00 AM
Augie, I think you are in the ball park. Esp with the pork and ribs. Figuring you will get around 6# of finished per butt on the pork and serving a 1/4 pound. With ribs, you generally get 10 servable bones per rack you are looking at 120 bones. I would cut those into 2 bone servings and you would have 60 servings. (and hopefully being 2 bones vs. 1, they will only take one serving.
What are you doing with the chicken shredding??? If so you should be fine there as well as you can probably get 12 pounds of meat out of 6 whole chickens. and at .25 per person you will be at 48 servings.
One flat may not be enough.
Of course they will not all take a serving of each, but then you never know.
Have fun whatever you do.

04-13-2009, 10:10 AM
That's plenty of food, however I would expect:
1. Leftover pork (you should wind up with about 80 1/4 pound servings)
2. Run out of ribs (not a bad thing - everyone should get a shot at them)
4. You'll have dark meat chick left over (6x8=48 pieces - that's with wings seperate)
5. You'll run out of brisket (not a bad thing but)

Chicken has always been a challenge when I'm doing catering, church, or family gatherings. "Most" folks like white meat!!

Good luck. You've definately planned enough meat.

04-13-2009, 12:06 PM
4 cuts of meat is fairly adventurous.

Cut your ribs to 1 or 2 bones and put them at the end of the serving line. By the time folks get to the ribs, their plate will be too full to pile on a half slab of ribs.

I'd go with leg quarters. They're cheaper and easier to cut into serving sizes than whole chickens. They also move around in the smoker easier.

1 brisket flat won't be enough.

04-14-2009, 01:35 AM
I think your numbers are pretty good. I know you didn't ask for it, but since you seem to want to do this in your spare time, I'll give you my 2 cents.

I realize it's for family, so it's different, but all of my gigs, we do 3 meats. The 3 vary, but usually, it's PP, chicken, and bologna. You'll be surprised how well the bologna goes too. We also always do leg quarter and split them after smoking. Too much work to pull the chicken.....Whole chickens are just too time consuming unless you are selling the entire chicken.

We do 25-30 lbs of precooked pork per 50 people, but we serve big portions. If doing brisket, we do about the same....or just a little less. We hardly ever do both for the same gig.

I've found that people generally prefer PP to brisket on the whole, especially women. Don't ask me why, but when taking an order, I give them the choices, men will generally choose brisket by a small margin, women will chose PP by a wide margin.

Most people do not choose ribs due to cost.

Speaking of bologna.....we donate some time several times a year to do a couple of baseball and softball tourneys (to help raise money for the teams). The concession grills hamburgers and hotdogs, and we do nothing but smoked bologna sammiches (bologna cut about 1/4" to 1/2" thick w/ a little sauce). The concession sells the bologna sammiches, with a bag of chips and a drink for the same price as the same thing with a hamburger, and the bologna outsells the hamburger 3 to 1....I"m telling ya, they are addictive.

Probably more info than you wanted to know, and these are just things that I've found, so take it with a grain of salt.

Capt ron
04-29-2009, 05:36 PM
Hey Augie,
I don't know if this post is late or not but try the link below and the are some spread sheets that might help ya..


05-11-2009, 08:23 AM
Thanks for all of the help - everything turned out great!

i cooked the four butts and twelve racks of ribs a week in advance, then vac-sealed and froze them. Moved the ribs from the freezer to the fridge on Friday (a day before the reunion).

Saturday morning I fired up the WSM and put the 10# brisket flat on for a high heat cook. Then I rinsed off the brining half chickens, and set up the three Weber kettles for hot, indirect cooks.

I divided the 12 packets of frozen pulled pork into two stockpots, filled them the rest of the way with water and heated them on the stovetop.

When the pork was done I opened a bag at a time, "fluffed it" as I spitzed it with apple cider vinegar and sprinkled it with rub, then put it into a large aluminum serving pan. I filled two of those with the pork, then covered with foil and put them into the oven to stay warm.

Then I emptied the kettles one at a time and cut up the cooked chickens (eight of them!) and ended up with six half size aluminum serving dishes, three each of white and dark meat.

I sent my brother on ahead to the park where the reunion was held, which is about a 5-10 minute drive from my house, with two chimneys and a bag of competition "K" so that he could get them started on a grill that's built into the pavillion we rented.

Took the brisket off and gave it twenty minutes rest in it's foilt tent while I finished cutting up the bird.

Sliced the brisket, put all of the meat into a towel lined cooler then was off to the park. The coals were ready to dump from the chimneys when I got there, so I immediately put the ribs on and started warming them and twenty minutes later lunch was served!

Chad was pretty spot on with his prediction, almost all of the ribs and brisket were gone, but there was a good amount of chicken and pulled pork leftover.

It was apretty hectic morning, but totally worth it to hear all of the compliments, and so much better than ordering takeout from a local mass produced food joint!

05-11-2009, 09:34 AM
Sounds like the enjoyed your labor of love. And they'll probably ask you to do the next reunion as well!

Save the leftover chicken and pork, freeze it and use it for Brunswick stew later - it's always a great side for any kind of gathering. :)

Jacked UP BBQ
05-11-2009, 02:26 PM
Nice job, sounds like you had a good day.