How Much Cutlery You Need (For Every Family Size & Scenario)

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Cutlery is one of those things that always seems to run out. I can’t count the number of times I’ve opened my kitchen drawer to find a fork, only to realize they’re all in the wash. It’s such a common problem that it might make you wonder, how many pieces of cutlery should you have? 

You will need 2-3 of each piece of cutlery per person in your house that uses them. However, the number can vary based on how often you do dishes. Some single people can survive with a single item of each piece of cutlery, while others may need five of each to suit their needs. 

In the rest of this article, I’ll go over how much cutlery you need to fit the needs of multiple types of households. I’ll also include how much cutlery you should have for a party or if you own a restaurant. 

How Much Cutlery Should One Person Have?

When purchasing flatware, you need to consider:

  • How often you have guests 
  • How many meals you tend to eat at home 
  • How often you do dishes 

One person should have 2-3 of each piece of cutlery. If you live alone, you don’t need much cutlery, especially if you eat out a lot or don’t have guests often.

For example, if you eat two meals at home a day and don’t have visitors often, you can have two of everything, which means you can have a clean set while another set is ready to be washed or is drying. This means you’ll likely have to do dishes every day, which may not be ideal. 

How Much Cutlery Should You Take to Uni or College?

You should take at least one set of cutlery to uni or college. The amount of cutlery you should plan on taking to college or uni will depend on your living situation. If you plan on eating most of your meals at a dining hall, then you may not need any cutlery at all. 

If you plan to eat more meals in your dorm or student living, you may not have the time or space to do your dishes often. If that’s the case, bring four sets of cutlery, so you are guaranteed to always have at least one clean set. 

How Much Cutlery Should a Couple Have?

A couple should have a minimum of four to six complete sets of cutlery. However, that is a bare minimum. If you want to entertain, you’ll need to invest in another one to four sets of cutlery.

If you wash your cutlery by hand, having four to six of everything may not be a problem because you will likely be doing your dishes daily. 

If you have a dishwasher, you may want to invest in two to three extra sets of cutlery. Since you may not be turning your dishwasher on often enough to ensure you have clean cutlery ready. 

How Much Cutlery Should a Family of Three Have?

A family of three should have at least a 24-piece set of cutlery. How much you need will depend on the ages of your family members, since smaller children may not need silverware.

Since there are more people in the home, doing dishes more often is likely, and thus you may need less cutlery to get by. Additionally, a family of three might be busier than a couple, so you might not have a lot of time to do lots of washing up, especially on a daily basis. In this case, it is always best to have spares on hand.

How Much Cutlery Should a Family of Four Have?

A family of four should have a standard 24 piece cutlery set. This ensures everyone in the house has two of everything. This will make life easier when you don’t have time to wash the dishes.

With the inevitable increased frequency of washing the dishes, you can likely get away with having the low end of the two to three minimum per person. However, if you notice that you are still running out of cutlery, you should purchase an extra set per person in your home to guarantee you always have forks, knives, and spoons available when you need them. 

How Much Cutlery Should a Family of Five Have?

A family of five should have at least two or three silverware sets per person. As a rule, you should have enough flatware to evenly divide among everyone in your household, perhaps with an extra set for emergencies. That means a typical set of 24 won’t be suitable for a family of five.

When you increase the number of people in your home, especially if your family comprises a couple and three children, you may want to go with the upper estimate. Having three of everything will ensure that there is at least enough silverware for everyone to eat three meals per day at home. 

How Much Cutlery Should a Family of Six Have?

A family of six should have twelve single cutlery sets. They will likely need to do the dishes at least once per day, if not multiple times per day. So, while you will be using more cutlery at a time, you’ll likely not need as much as a backup because you’ll be cleaning what you have more often. 

If you’re trying to save space or money, having two of everything or twelve single cutlery sets should be fine. However, having three of everything will help make sure you aren’t rushing to wash dishes, so someone isn’t left without a fork. 

How Much Cutlery Do You Need for a Party?

You will need one set of cutlery per person you’re inviting for a party, with a few extra sets in case someone drops something or you need some for cooking. 

If you plan on throwing a party and want to know how much cutlery to have on hand, it’s crucial to figure out a few things first: 

  • How often do you throw parties? 
  • What sort of party are you throwing? 

If you plan on throwing parties often, then investing in a nice set of stainless steel flatware might be your best choice. That way, you can use this silverware in your day-to-day life as well, or you can save it for when you have people over. 

On the other hand, if you are hosting a casual party with finger food or no set mealtime, or if you don’t throw parties often, you might want to opt for plastic flatware. You can often find forks, knives, and spoons in bulk sets of 20-100 in many stores. That should guarantee enough cutlery for most occasions, and it makes cleaning up afterward much faster. 

How Much Cutlery Do You Need for a Restaurant?

You will need two sets of cutlery per potential patron for a restaurant. The cutlery a restaurant should have on hand will depend on its size and capacity. A good rule of thumb to follow is to have two sets of cutlery per potential patron. 

However, this isn’t a set rule that needs to be followed across the board. You will also want to determine how much cutlery you need based on the sort of restaurant you have. 

If you have a fast-food restaurant, you may opt for plasticware. If you only serve finger food, then having plastic sets on hand just in case may be all that’s necessary. If you only serve soup, you may want two spoons per potential patron, but you may not need as many forks or knives.