A simple guide to making the right amount of food for the holidays

Dec 16, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. ET
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Your biggest responsibility of the year is looming before you: cooking that big holiday dinner. You certainly don't want to cook too little, but if you make too much food, you'll quickly find you're out of fridge space for leftovers.

So we've created a handy chart you can refer to while you're calculating how much food you need. But first, some tips:

1. If you know a dish will be popular, make a little extra.

2. If you're making a dish you suspect only one or two people will want, don't make a full serving for everyone. Most people will take only a taste to be polite (if at all).

3. Consider children, light eaters and big appetites on your list. The amounts on this chart are for average eaters, so don't hesitate to deviate — you know your friends and family better than anyone else.

4. Plan for a few people extra, just in case.

One last bit of advice (from someone who's screwed it up before)...

5. Figure out what cookware and servingware you'll need for each dish. Nothing is worse than starting to cook and then realizing you don't have enough dishes for everything on your menu. Do you need three 8 x 8-inch casserole dishes? Do you have them? Also think about how many and what type of serving spoons and forks you need for everything.

While you're shopping for food, you can always purchase a few disposable aluminum pans in various sizes to be sure. If you plan far enough in advance, you can order extra kitchen equipment online without having to leave the house during this busy holiday shopping season.

how much food do you need for holiday dinner
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