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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Planning a sandwich menu for a crowd

Here's our menu for our gathering last Sunday afternoon. In our invites we called it a light lunch, with a "start time" of 1:30 PM. Friends stayed until about 4 PM.

whole wheat buns and white buns for making sandwiches
sliced ham, sliced turkey, sliced Swiss cheese (w/ mayo, mustard, butter, salt & pepper available)

baby carrots, broccoli pieces and cauliflower pieces, w/dip (Bacon Ranch salad dressing)
dried cranberries

frosted pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies
gingerbread cut-outs in the shape of leaves, drizzled with maple icing
a bowl of candy corn

self-serve pitchers of ice water, lemonade, and orange juice
self-serve pots of coffee, decaf and hot water for tea

This is not the least expensive menu we could have employed, but it was the most "self-serve" menu we could come up with, so that I could spend time with our guests.

Here's a tip for setting up the buffet table -- place the napkins and plates first, then follow with the side dishes, following with the sandwich fixings, then dessert. Guests don't tend to go overboard on the sandwiches, leaving little room for the less expensive sides. But they fill their plates in a more balanced way.

self-serve amounts

For amounts of sandwich ingredients:

2 to 3 ounces of sliced meat per person (or up to 4 ounces, if you're planning a game day lunch or for an all-men gathering)
1 to 1.5 ounces of sliced cheese per person (a little more, if you are slicing the cheese yourself, or if you're planning for more sandwiches. Remember, a slice of cheese is usually about 1 ounce.)
one-half head of leaf lettuce for every dozen people

For a light-lunch or reception crowd, count on 1.5 sandwiches per person.
For a game-day or meal crowd, count on 2 sandwiches per person, then follow up with additional snacks later in the game, or add substantial sides like potato or macaroni salad.
For a group of all men, count on 2 to 3 sandwiches per person.

For amounts of veggies and dip:

2 ounces of raw, trimmed veggies per person (if you're trimming the veggies yourself, you'll need more)
1.5 to 2 tablespoons of dip per person

For grapes:

2 ounces per person 

These amounts will leave you with some leftovers, but you shouldn't have way too much left over, nor shall you run out of anything.

With our group of 15 adults (mixed men and women), we went through just under 2 dozen sandwich buns, not quite 2 pounds (around 28 ounces or so) of meat, about 20 ounces of cheese, 1.5 pounds of grapes, 1.5 pounds of raw veggies and a cup and a half of dip. We also had pretzels, peanuts, dried cranberries and cookies on the table, which filled plates. We went through about 8 ounces of pretzels, 1.5 cups each of peanuts and dried cranberries.


  1. A sandwich buffet is a great simple way to keep you out of the kitchen and enjoying your guests. We have done it, and also had salad buffets or soup buffets depending on the season. I like to think a gathering is more about being together than missing all the fun by being stuck in the kitchen or serving.

    1. Hi Anne,
      Oh yes, soup or salad buffets are very nice, too. And with soups, can be quite affordable.

  2. Nice! As we get into our kid's college school year we host students more often than in the summer. The kids bring friends home for Sunday church and dinner so I'll probably feed them something more than a sandwich most of the time (because college kids are always hungry, you know!). I think the sandwich and sides will be a good option as well but I might add a cup of soup also. There's nothing better than having my kids comfortable enough to bring friends home and we've had people over from Ghana, El Salvador, German, Ecuador, and USA! I think we are also hosting a new boyfriend!


    1. Hi Alice,
      what a lovely thing to do, feeding those college kids without families nearby. I know I always appreciate it when someone does something nice for my kids, in my absence.

  3. It must be hospitality week! My husband's aunt and uncle are touring Michigan and Wisconsin--they spent the night here last night (our kids have delayed start to school on Wednesdays--since our "guest room" is our pull-out living room sofa, we didn't want to host them when they would have to wake up at 6:00 a.m.!) and will be here Friday night (they are taking the ferry across Lake Michigan--which we live close to--so it's handy for them to stay here again). I think it's fun to come up with menus and, like you, I try to plan it so I spend minimal time in the kitchen. I like to enjoy my guests, plus I find if I am too distracted while in the kitchen, I goof things up .... anyway, it sounds like you had a successful luncheon and it's nice to think of ways you can host friends while on a budget.

    1. Hi Kris,
      That is so nice that your H's aunt and uncle can visit with you! Hey, a pull-out sofa bed in a warm and comfortable home is loads better than a nondescript motel on a noisy highway. I'm sure they appreciated your hospitality.

      It's nice to just be able to visit and not have to bother a great deal with cooking. I, too, can't focus on cooking and conversation and will forget to add something or mis-measure. Better to serve simple foods and have it taste great than something complicated that didn't turn out.

  4. Your planning skills are awesome!! As I recall, you did mention that you love to plan :)

    Very nice table centerpiece and ambiance with the lit tree as well. I saw decorative squashes sold at our supermarkets this week at $1.49/lb. I've always seen them but never bought them, thinking it wasn't for eating.


    1. HI YHF,
      Yes, I do like the planning part. Go figure.

      Thanks, and we can eat the centerpieces as the season wears on! These were all squash and not gourds, just so you know. There are only a couple of gourds that are edible. The gourds that you see in the supermarkets are for decoration only. But there are many "pretty" squash varieties, too, that are just as decorative as their gourd counterparts.

  5. I like that you differentiated between the amounts of what most men and women will eat. But sometimes, its hard to tell about amounts. Last weekend we had a picnic for Ward's work group and there were about 25 people including several children and some vegetarians. He smoked 12 lbs of pork shoulder which should have been a 1/2 pound of meat per person--more if you count the people who didn't eat it. This didn't count the grilled chicken available for those who don't like pork. Any way every bit of the pork was eaten I think because it tasted really good. I'm glad people enjoyed it, but there went my leftovers.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Ward is just too good of a cook! That's a lot of meat to go through for that crowd. Even if it was the most delicious meat I'd ever eaten, I'm not sure I could eat a 1/2 pound. But maybe over the course of an afternoon, nibbling and such.

      I'm sorry you didn't get any leftovers, though. They would have been so nice to have for you, for quick, delicious meals. Any chance Ward could smoke some more, just for your kitchen/family?


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