Not every event you cater will involve a massive budget. More money obviously gives you more options. But just because your customer has limited funds, doesn’t mean you can’t throw a quality event. You still want to be a good partner by making suggestions that make sense for the constraints of the event. Here are 6 tips on how to create a catering menu for customers on a budget
1. Skip Appetizers
When working together to create your catering menu, both you and your customer know you will have to make sacrifices. Hors d’oeuvres can really add up. And most people are most excited for the main course anyway. Skipping the appetizers is an easy way to eliminate something people won’t necessarily miss. This is a quick, money-saving tip that won’t cut too much into your bottom line as a caterer.
2. Encourage a Tapas Menu
Big-ticket entrees like steak and lasagna can be pricey. Encourage your customer to order a bunch of low-cost, small snacks — a cheese platter, stuffed mushrooms, vegetable crudité, sliders, Mediterranean dips like hummus and baba ghanoush — these are both easy to serve and less expensive than dedicated main dishes for each guest.
3. Try Large Format Dishes
You’re looking to find ways to limit the amount of work that you, as the caterer, have to do so that you can streamline your customer’s costs. One way to do that is by picking a large format meal that serves a lot of people. Cooking a whole chicken, or a pork butt can be a great blank canvas for a meal like this. If you’re an Italian caterer, suggest a whole roast rosemary chicken. Or if you serve Korean food, try a bo ssam. The cuts of meat are often less expensive than most. And as a bonus, these dishes always look great in the buffet line.
4. Suggest a Build-Your-Own Bar
A build-your-own fajita, taco, burger, noodle bowl, or even the ever-popular waffle bar is an ingenious strategy for removing some labor cost from your catering menu. It involves pretty minimal prep for each ingredient. And then guests are the ones assembling their meal. Plus, build-your-own means guests can customize their meals to their own preferences.
5. Keep Dessert Simple
It might be easy to nix dessert altogether when you’re short on budget. But there are low-cost options to provide a simple, sweet end to a meal. Ice cream, a straightforward cookie, or a hand pie are easy and quick to make. They also serve a lot of people without much effort.
6. Go Vegetarian
Let’s face it, steak and lamb are expensive. So if you’re looking for how to create a catering menu on a limited budget, why not cut meat out entirely? Design an all-vegetarian menu for your customer. With hearty ingredients like portabellas, lentils, and cauliflower steaks, no one will even notice it’s meatless. Plus, as Time notes, vegetarianism is already on the rise. So going meatless could be a trendy and popular way to go.
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