What To Consider When Figuring Out Portion Sizes For Meat

Whether planning meals for yourself or prepping for a dinner party, it can be tricky to know what the right portion of meat is per person. Luckily, there are a few things to consider that can help. The most important thing to determine is whether the meat will be the main meal or if it'll be part of a larger meal with side dishes, per The Smoke Guys. If the meat is for a main meal, you'll want to portion more per person, whereas you can purchase less if it's part of a meal such as a pasta or casserole. It also matters if the meal is for lunch or dinner because you'll need less meat for lunch and more meat for dinner.

Another thing to consider is how old each attendee is because children eat half the amount an adult does, so you can buy less. However, if teenagers will be dining, then you should allot about 25% extra meat. Additionally, if the meal is for an event such as a birthday then you'll want less meat, but if it's for a holiday or cookout, you'll want more meat. It's also important to know that meat shrinks when it's cooked, so you'll need to account for that depending on the meat of choice. A general baseline to start with is around 8 ounces, or half a pound, of raw meat per person (via Steak Revolution). Here's how much meat you should portion per person according to the meat type.

Beef, fish, and chicken shrink less when cooked so you don't have to buy as much

Keeping in mind that meat shrinks when it cooks, filet mignon, for example, will have about 75% meat left once cooked, per The Smoke Guys. Flank steaks have a yield of about 80% to 85%, while beef tenderloin, ground beef, and cubed roast beef all have estimated yields of about 85%. Other popular steak cuts include T-bone and Porterhouse, which both yield 77%; and New York strip, which yields 89% (via FoodFireFriends). So, it's safe to buy around a half pound to three-quarters of a pound of raw steak per person, per Steak Revolution.

A whole chicken actually has a similar yield to steak, leaving behind 70% meat once cooked, so you can typically also follow the half pound to three-quarters of a pound of raw meat per guest rule, per The Smoke Guys. Additionally, fish have an 80% yield, so for fish filets, fish steaks, shrimp, scallops, and lobster meat, six to eight ounces per person should be a sufficient dinner portion, while three to four ounces should be enough for lunch or appetizers, per Fulton Fish Market. For mussels, clams, and oysters, you can purchase one pound per person for dinner and a half pound per person for lunch or appetizers. Lastly, you'll need four to six ounces of crab for dinner and two to three ounces for lunch per person.

Pork, turkey, and lamb shrink more so buy more per person

Pork shrinks a lot more than beef and fish. Baby back ribs, for example, shrink by 50%, while pork loin yields 65% meat, and pork shoulder leaves 62% of meat after cooking, according to The Smoke Guys. For ribs, you can expect to buy anywhere from three ribs to seven ribs per person, depending on the type of rib, guest appetites, and how many additional meats or sides are being served, per FoodFireFriends. For pork shoulder or pork butt, eight ounces of raw meat will yield four and a half pounds cooked, and this can serve around 10 to 15 people.

A whole turkey yields about 60% of meat, according to The Smoke Guys, but it could sometimes yield as little as 50% of meat, per FoodFireFriends. Because of this, the minimum you'd want to get per person is a pound and a half (via Food Network). So, if you have a group of eight, a turkey that weighs 12 to 14 pounds is the least you should buy. After cooking, lamb yields about 55% to 60% meat (via The Smoke Guys), so a good general portion for lamb is about a half pound, or eight ounces, per person, per What's Cooking America.