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Tips to keep catering costs low!

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

You’re in charge of feeding the office but you’re feeling like your budget can only get you a few pizzas from down the street. We hear you - Affordable and tasty catering can be tough to find. Especially if you’re dealing with things like allergies or picky eaters. We’re here to remind you that delicious catering for your office is easier to find and less stressful than you think! Here are some free secrets to corporate catering on a budget that won’t compromise the taste!



1. Buffets for Days!

When trying to be cost effective, a catered buffet will almost always be more affordable than a plated or individually packed lunch or breakfast. Buffets are helpful for many reasons. To list a few: you won't need servers to plate and or deliver the food to tables, you won't need to note each person that has an allergy and remember what can and cannot go on their plate. You let guests choose the options they can eat and lastly, you create more mingling time for your guests because buffets allow everyone to get their food on their own time. As long as you order a good variety of foods that will cover the array of dietary restrictions, a buffet is a worry free and helpful way to stay on budget!

2. Perfectly Portioned

When ordering for an event, many people tend to over order to be safe. It’s easy to do and reassuring to know that you will have plenty of variety in your order but can quickly lead you over budget by a long shot. Most catering companies will have preset packages or combination lunches that serve a set number of people. These combos are generally cost effective and since the catering company has already done the research for you - it’s a great way to know how many people your order will serve without guestimating. If these combination packages aren’t custom enough and you opt to create your own menu, here are some quick guidelines to follow in terms of catering portions:

  • Proteins: 4-5 ounces per person

  • Hors D’vourves: 3-4 pieces per person

  • Tacos: 2 per person

  • Sushi: 6-8 pieces per person

  • Skewers and Kebobs: 2 per person

  • Sides and desserts: 4-5 ounces per person

3. Host a Brunch! It’s obvious that a morning meeting tends to be more cost effective than a sit-down dinner or custom lunch menu so why not offer an awesome brunch spread for your next budget conscious event?! Now, we don’t mean that for your company wide holiday party or formal awards ceremony to grab some bagels and coffee and call it a day (please don’t do that and if you do, don’t blame us for the outcome). But, if you are planning a luncheon or are hosting a small group of colleagues, brunch is a fun and budget friendly way to mix things up! Think about avocado toast bars, breakfast parfaits or burritos, fruit trays, beautiful morning pastries and breakfast pizzas. Catered brunch will get your employees excited for your meeting, we promise!

4.Veggie Lovers

Trust us when we say we love a steak or beef tenderloin. But, when looking for budget catering, instead of expensive cuts of meat, options like chicken or vegetarian selections are great food swaps to lower costs. If you have a more formal event and need a hearty meal, we recommend getting a head count on your guests to try to know which of your guests even eat red meat. Vegetarian and Mediterranean diets are becoming more and more popular so gathering this info beforehand is helpful when curating your menu. Vegetarian dishes like mac and cheese, baked ziti, lasagna and penne with vegetables are cheap catering options that still pack a hearty punch. To expand the options, you can always go heavier on appetizers, sides or vegetables when you skip the more expensive cuts of meat.

5. Check the calendar

Many people planning events with food tend to focus more on the costly cuisine and presentation rather than the people and experience. Not every event has to be a beautiful 5-course dining extravaganza. Many catering companies will come out with menus or specials that play to the local events and traditions or smaller marketing holidays near you. Think about baseball season, the Superbowl, national pi day, world cookie day and so on. With the focus on fun events and celebrating smaller holidays you can get by with cheaper catering options. Choosing a caterer that offers specials for these days and events makes it even easier to cut costs and less work for you to come up with specialty menus. These types of events are the easiest way to lower your catering costs, enjoy time with your guests and put a smile on everyone’s face – you might even get more attendance if you pitch your event with a cute holiday focus.

6. Skip the Rentals

Chances are, if you’re planning an event on a budget there won't be much room left to work with for linen or fine china rentals. Heck, there might not even be room to get sternos and chafers to present this hot food nicely. While it’s always nice to have upscale rentals there are some great alternatives you could opt for. A lot of times when you order catering, the caterer will offer complimentary paper goods and serving utensils. This is great if you are hosting a casual luncheon or a quick breakfast meeting. But, if you need something a little fancier than that, most catering companies will offer upscale paper goods for a fraction of the cost of rentals. You can also get flameless heating trays to keep your food warm, make it presentable and it’s reusable!

There are many ways to reduce your catering costs and still have a happy group of colleagues. Think outside of the box when it comes to the event and always consider your portions! If you want to skip the google searching for “budget friendly catering” and go straight to a source with brunch, lunch, buffets, and already curated combination lunches for groups, visit catering.milkstreetcafe.com. You can order everything you want right online – even upscale paper goods and tent cards. We deliver, set up and ensure you that no matter what your catering budget is, the taste is not compromised!

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