As anyone who has ever cooked a meal will be aware, portioning is perhaps the most difficult part of cooking.
And it’s something that doesn’t grow easier depending on the number of people you are cooking for because it is just as difficult to portion a meal for one person as it is to portion a meal for 20.
One type of food that is incredibly difficult to portion is meat. Different people will dislike certain meats, others will only like a small amount of one meat and lots of others so it can be very difficult.
If you are hosting a dinner party soon, and you’re worried about portioning, this is the guide for you.
We’re giving you all the tips and tricks you need to portion different types of meat perfectly and all the information you need to make the process simple.
How Much Meat Is A Portion?
Before you can even begin cooking, you need to consider the different types of meat you may use and go to a store to buy it.
So you must consider portions before you buy any meat to ensure that you have enough for everybody you are cooking for.
You need to consider the dish you will be cooking the meat in also as this will impact the amount that you need. As ‘meat’ is such a broad category of food, the portion size will differ depending on the type that you are using.
So let’s take a look at the different types of meat and how you should portion each one accordingly.
Chicken is a white meat, and perhaps one of the most popular types that you will find at a dinner party.
It is incredibly popular among even the fussiest of eaters and can be used in most dishes. If you are going to use chicken as the main ingredient in your recipe you will want approximately 5 ounces of cooked meat per person.
However, you will need to buy approximately 9 ounces per person of raw meat as the weight decreases during the cooking process.
As chicken comes from a small bird, the cut of meat impacts the weight significantly so you should take this into account when buying meat.
Another incredibly popular meat is pork. It is a very diverse type of meat and you can choose from pork chops and pulled pork all the way through to sausages and bacon.
Pork tends to have very high water content when it is raw so this will impact the amount that you need to buy per portion. The cooking process can decrease the weight of your pork by up to 50% so you must buy a large portion of pork.
We recommend buying roughly 6 ounces of raw pork per person as once this has shrunk in the cooking process it will supply a good portion for the main meal.
Steak is also an extremely popular choice for dinner parties, especially if they take place outdoors.
While you might be led to believe that portioning steak is simple, it is quite a difficult process to get right. However as the main ingredient in your meal you want to aim for approximately 8 ounces per person.
But if you are serving a steak which has a bone in it you will want to increase the weight to account for the weight of the bone.
Finally, you should consider seafood. It’s debatable whether this is meat or not, however, it is also very commonly used as the main ingredient in dishes.
Due to the wide variety of types of seafood, it can be difficult to know how much to include in a portion, however, we recommend 8 ounces per guest.
This number will differ if you are looking to include shellfish as their weights operate differently.
Factors to Consider
Just as with every purchase that you make, there are some things you should consider before buying the meat you need to serve dinner. These factors will help ensure that you buy the correct amount of meat and keep wastage to the bare minimum.
Firstly, you should consider the time of day that you are preparing food for. This might seem a strange thing to think about, but the time that people eat will directly affect the amount that they eat.
The pattern of modern life means that most people tend to have a lighter lunch and a heavier evening meal, so if you are preparing a lunch time meal, people might still eat significantly less even if you give them a big portion of food.
You should also consider the type of event that you are preparing food for. If you are preparing food for a sit-down meal, people are more likely to eat a large portion. Whereas if you are doing bbq food alongside a pool or garden party, people might eat less food because they are more likely to pick.
As well as this, you should also consider whether there will be children attending the event. If kids are eating some of the meat they will require a much smaller portion than what you buy for an adult.
Kids might also affect the amount that your adult guests eat as children, particularly babies, can distract parents and prevent them from finishing their meals. So you should consider the type of event and the guests that will be attending when portioning meat.
Finally, you should always remember that most meats will reduce in weight once they are cooked. It is common for manufacturers to add water to the meat before selling it as the water will increase the weight and therefore the price that customers pay for it.
While this is a naughty trick, it is something that you have to work with so you should always factor in that the meat will weigh less after cooking.
In short, the easiest way to calculate meat per person is by looking at recommendations.
We recommend approximately 9 ounces of chicken, 6 ounces of pork, 8 ounces of steak, and 8 ounces of seafood per person if the meat is used as the main ingredient in your dish.
To calculate how much you need to buy to feed the whole dinner party, simply multiply this number by the number of guests you have attended.
But if you are ever in doubt, you’re better off buying a little extra than risking not having enough.