How Many Plates You Need (for Every Family Size & Scenario)

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Plates are a household item we know we need, but the number of plates we need isn’t always obvious. With too few plates, you might run out of clean dishes, but the more plates you buy, the more money and shelving space you need. With a little bit of strategy, however, you can surely find the perfect balance. 

How many plates you’ll need ranges from 3 to 12 for a given household. A single person or a small family would require fewer plates, whereas a family of 6 or more might need at least 12 plates. Having more than one plate per person gives you more flexibility. 

This article will cover just how many plates you need for your family size and other scenarios. Hopefully, after reading this, you can choose the most appropriate number of plates for your situation. 

How Many Plates Should One Person Have?

One person should have 3 plates, at least. Some estimations go as high as 10 plates for those who frequently entertain guests. However, having at least 3 plates ensures you aren’t doing dishes after every meal. 

However, if you are a single person and a minimalist, 10 plates will probably be too high for you and your needs. Having 4 to 6 plates would be a better number of dishes for you to own. This is enough to accommodate some guests without being excessive. 

And if you are a minimalist who does not intend on having guests over, then 2 to 3 plates will be sufficient.

How Many Plates Should You Take to Uni or College?

You should take 1 to 2 plates to uni or college. Space in dorm rooms is limited, and with other student responsibilities, you won’t want to spend a lot of time doing dishes. 

Since you will be busy studying and attending social events, you will not want to spend your evenings doing dishes. The fewer dishes you have, the more time you will have to focus on other things.

Also, dorm rooms are not very big, so space is limited. Dirty dishes can pile up very quickly, taking up valuable space. So would you rather put that space toward other things, like books and your gaming system or your dishes?

How Many Plates Should a Couple Have?

As a couple, you will most likely be inviting other couple friends for dinner or inviting one or both sets of parents for a nice family meal.

A couple should have 6-8 plates to cover themselves and any guests they might have. This number of dishes ensures you will have enough plates for everyone, meaning no one feels left out of being invited to dinner.

Also, if you have a busy week and cannot get to the dishes right away, you will have extra plates to hold you over until you get around to loading and running the dishwasher. 

How Many Plates Should a Family of Three Have?

A family of three should have 6 plates at minimum. This means everyone has two dishes to eat from. However, this is not accounting for having family and friends over.

While 6 is the minimum, you can increase the number of plates you have based on your needs. So, if you are planning on expanding your family in the future, or you want to have all the grandparents over at one time, you will need more plates for that.

Granted, not every family member will be present for every meal every time, but 6 is still a solid minimum. 12 can also be a good number depending on your family’s needs.

How Many Plates Should a Family of Four Have?

A family of four should have a minimum of 6-8 plates. 8 plates ensure that each person can eat two full meals before somebody would need to do the dishes. 

That said, if you always have extra people, choose the number of dishes that best fit your needs. 

There is also the possibility of plates becoming damaged or broken over time. 6-8 plates ensure you have extra if one is broken, but the increased plate count allows grandparents to visit for dinner or your daughter to bring her boyfriend and best friend over for a meal.

How Many Plates Should a Family of Five Have?

A bit more math is necessary for larger families to figure this out. The recommended mathematical formula for figuring this out is taking the number of plates needed and multiplying it by the number of people in your family times 2; if you have five people in your family, times that by 2. 

A family of five should have 10 plates at minimum. However, if you have small children and are worried about broken plates, you can adjust this number to fit those concerns. 

With more people in the family, there are more opportunities to have guests over, and you can increase the number if frequent guests are expected. 

How Many Plates Should a Family of Six Have?

As with the family of 5, a family of 6 will have the same mathematical equation for figuring out the number of plates they should have. 

A family of six should have 12 plates. While all 6 members may not eat at the same time for every meal, 12 plates is enough that you won’t need to do dishes after each meal. It also covers you if you have guests over. 

Once again, this number can be adjusted based on your needs, concerns for broken plates, and if you decide to expand your family. But 12 is the bare minimum you should have for your family of six.

How Many Plates Do You Need for a Party?

When throwing a party, you want to be a good host and make sure all your guests’ needs are considered by having plenty of food, drinks, plates, and cups for them to eat from and drink out of.

You need 25 to 100 plates for a party. Larger parties require more plates, whereas smaller gatherings may only require a handful. Obtaining slightly more than you need ensures you are covered in an emergency or an accident. 

The standard rule for non-disposable plates and cups is to multiply the number of guests you invite by 1.5. For example, if you are having a party with 50 guests, you will want to have 75 plates and cups available.

Having 75 non-disposable plates on hand is rather unrealistic. For that reason, you can invest in disposable plates. 

For disposable plates, you will need a lot more plates and cups as people will throw them away as they become soiled or switch out their drinks. You will want to multiply the number of guests in attendance by three for disposable plates. So if you have 75 guests, you will want to have 225 plates and cups on hand.

How Many Plates Do You Need for a Restaurant?

When ordering plates for your restaurant, it is all about the ratios. 

You will need 3 plates for every 1 customer for a restaurant. This ratio is considered one that sets you up for operational success, ensuring that you never run out of plates for your guests. 

This ratio means that you will have a plate in use for every customer, one that is washing and one that is drying. Slipping below this ratio means you run the risk of serving food on a wet plate or running out of dishes. These are things that can cause customers to become angry and never return to your restaurant.

When trying to run a successful restaurant, it’s typically better not to cut corners. Not investing in enough plates could turn into a disaster if you have an extremely busy night.