If you’re planning an event this summer, you’ll have no doubt begun the process of selecting a catering company and organising the food that will be served. Before you lay on an extravagant feast, here are some top tips to make sure your event catering stays on budget:
Get the Numbers Right
If you want to save money on catering costs, the first step is to accurately gauge how many people are attending your event. Without those numbers, it’s going to be tough to keep the budget on track.
Check the Portion Sizes
It’s worth asking the catering team if you can sample the menu yourself before proceeding with the contract. You’ll get a feel for how much food is being served, and if it’s too much for the style of event your hosting.
Use a Chef to Your Advantage
A decent catering chef will be able to make some savings by using local contacts to supply the food. This might work massively in your favour: You’ll be able to declare the seafood “locally caught” and the meat dishes “locally sourced”. Even the vegetables are likely to be fresher and tastier if they’re local. This will lend a more authentic feel to the event as well as saving some cash.
Plan The Catering Ahead of Time
If you discuss your catering needs early, you’ll be able to take greater advantage of those locally sourced products mentioned above. In addition, the catering team will have a better idea of how to combine your food order with that of another client, which could considerably lower costs if they’re able to buy in bulk.
Use Leftovers to Your Advantage
Okay, so not “leftovers” as such, but a decent catering team should be able to turn unused or bulk ordered food into another course for the second day. Ice Cold Trailers, a mobile refrigeration specialist agrees: “If you get the logistics correct, you should be able to stretch your food and drink budget a lot further with proper storage and refrigeration in place”.
Make an Optical Illusion
It’s an age old trick, but a decent catering company will be well aware of the visual illusions that different serving devices have. Buffet plates in particular are best left on the smaller size if you want to avoid guests piling them high with snacks!
Think Outside the Box
Theming your catering in a certain style or encouraging local producers to make preserves or snacks using older or unwanted produce can all create a very bespoke dining experience without breaking the bank.
Less is More
Finally, consider the amount of courses you’re serving. If it’s a summer event that’s being hosted outside, you’re not going to require four courses of heavy, filling food. Guests will often be happier with an abundance of free drink, which is certainly easier to cater for than multiple food courses
Planning an event is a stressful process, and the catering is probably the biggest headache. Using a little local knowledge and a quality catering team could mean the difference between staying within budget or an event that fails to break even.
Harry Price is a writer, personal trainer and successful young entrepreneur. He travels the country talking to students about entrepreneurship and giving sound business advice.