A catered event requires strategic and careful planning to ensure everything fits perfectly within the budget and all guests are well taken care of. You do not want your guests to go home hungry as it gives a bad image of the occasion. Having too many leftovers also gives the impression that a lot of money was spent on unnecessary items on the guest menu. Having an idea of how to reduce catering costs can have a significant impact on your expenditure as well as the guest experience. This article looks at the top seven ways to keep catering costs down at your next event.
- Plan your budget
It is important to plan ahead of time to ensure you purchase what you need to cook based on the number of guests expected at your event. This ensures you have no delays or food shortages that could cause embarrassment during the event. You need to be very precise when formulating your budget as it helps to determine the right portion sizes for the event. Your plan needs to be considerate and realistic so that you do not end up exceeding your budget due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Choose Comfort Over Expensive Dishes
Time-consuming and labor-intensive dishes like a multi-ingredient cassoulet or a decadent beef wellington will be costly than other equally delicious choices. It is important to choose simple delicious entrees that are easy to prepare as they still deliver a good impression to your guests. You can ask your caterer to create a widely appealing main course and a vegetarian or gluten-free dish for people with dietary restrictions. Avoid carving stations when serving a cocktail, as they are very expensive and filling.
- Stick to Foods in Season
Choosing vegetables and fruits that are in season around the time of the event is a great way to cut down catering costs and boost flavors. You can visit a local grocery store with your caterer before planning your dishes to identify foods and ingredients that are at their best. Not only are they affordable but are also rich in nutrients and fresh flavors that can be appealing to your guests. Foods that are out of season may be ideal for the event but can be expensive since they are hard to find.
- Skip Buffets and Opt for Plated Meals
Consider switching to plated meals if you have traditionally offered a buffet. You are more likely to spend more money on a buffet than a plated meal. Besides, buffet-style meals often generate large food wastages since people are allowed to choose the foods they like. This means that the least favorite foods will remain in large quantities since people are only interested in what suits their tastes and preferences. Besides, there is less food to prepare when serving plated meals since food portions have already been calculated and adjustments can always be made along the way.
- Scale Back on Food Options
Guests do not have to go through a lengthy list of foods on the menu as if they were in a restaurant. While it is a good idea to serve what people want, it is important to stick to your budget by offering limited food options that are appealing to the guests. However, you should consider adding another option that accommodates people with dietary restrictions or food allergies to ensure everyone is well taken care of.
- Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB Parties)
Varieties of catering services offer an option to bring beer, wine, and spirits, which can be great for entertaining your guests. However, alcoholic beverages often have the highest markup, which is a well-known industry secret. Instead of paying more for those huge mark-ups, consider buying your own or ask your guests to bring their own bottles.
- Negotiate Catering Costs
Just like in hotels and other businesses, prices usually change in catering. Catering costs tend to rise during busy seasons or fall during off-seasons. Because of these fluctuations, you have more room for negotiation during off-seasons compared to busy seasons, which helps you save more during your event. Most importantly, you need to have a good understanding of your event so that you can be in a better position when negotiating.
The best way to entertain guests at your event is to choose an affordable and delicious menu that appeals to all your guests. When people bring their bottles to a party, it encourages engagement and guests can have fun making their concoctions and chatting it all up. With your catering costs down, you can choose to save the extra cash for other things or invest it back into other parts of the event to make it amazing.