A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Affordable Event Catering
Are you planning an event and searching for affordable catering options that won't break the bank? Look no further. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to finding cost-effective event catering without compromising on quality or taste. From menu choices to negotiating discounts, we've got you covered.
I. Catering Service Choices: Making the Right Decisions
A. Food Delivery Options
A. Estimating Guest Count Begin by estimating the number of guests who will attend your event. Be as accurate as possible to avoid over-ordering and overspending.
B. Duration of Food Service Consider how long your guests will be fed. Longer events require more food, so plan accordingly. If your event spans several hours, you may need to provide snacks or additional meal options. If your event is running into dinner times, be sure to feed your guests appropriately.
C. Guest Expectations for Food Quantity Think about the expectations of your guests. Are they likely to expect generous portions? Are there dietary restrictions or preferences to accommodate? If you are keeping them back after work for a meeting conference, are they going to miss dinner with their family?
Many years ago, I remember a club function I catered for, and the client had added another twenty dollars on to the ticket price to attend, making the food they ordered twice the price of its actual value. The guests were not happy as they thought they were getting a banquet, not a light meal. These plans should be discussed with your caterer to ensure there is no misunderstanding.
III. Gathering Multiple Quotes: The Key to Cost Savings
A. Identify Sources for Quotes Start your search for affordable catering by identifying potential caterers in your area. Type into google key words such as the type of cuisine you are after (e.g., noodle box food), the type of event (e.g., corporate Christmas party). Seek recommendations from friends, family, or event planners. Additionally, explore online reviews and ratings to create a list of candidates.
B. Requesting Quotes from Caterers Once you have a list of caterers, reach out to them for quotes. Provide detailed information about your event, including the date, guest count, menu preferences, and any special requests.
Don't hesitate to ask for a breakdown of costs to understand what you're paying for. Most quotes are provided for a limited time (as food costs are always changing) and some will provide a discount if paid within a certain time period.
IV. Venue Considerations: Working with Your Event Space Before finalizing your catering decision, assess your event venue and its limitations.
A. Assess Venue Limitations
A. Haggling with the Caterer Negotiating with caterers can be a game-changer when it comes to affordability. Don't be afraid to discuss your budget constraints and explore options for cost reduction. From our point of view here at Flying Woks, when things slow down in the winter months, we are happy to negotiate a discount to suit budgets. However, in the warmer months we rarely do as demand is high and bookings come in fast.
B. Cash Payment Discounts Most caterers no longer offer discounts for cash payments as the reputable ones have systems in place that make handing cash somewhat difficult. It doesn’t hurt to inquire about this option, and some caterers may provide a discount for early payment or minimal discount for eft, in an effort to avoid credit card charges.
C. Providing Your Own Cutlery If you're looking to cut costs further, consider providing your own cutlery, plates, and glassware. Some caterers may offer a discount for this though it is not a common practice. Most caterers have their own crockery & cutlery or purchase in bulk quality disposable tableware. I have had several clients who have worked out it is less expensive to buy their own crockery & cutlery from Kmart or Alibaba than to hire from a caterer or marquee company. It's important to discuss what you plan to buy with your caterer, to ensure it's suitable for the type of cuisine the caterer is serving.
D. Special Offers from Caterers Keep an eye out for special offers or promotions from caterers. They may have seasonal discounts or package deals at certain periods of the year such as the low season or they may be keen to promote a new offer, a new menu, or meet their monthly sales goals. Here at Flying Woks, we offer bulk discounts when clients book in several functions or several sites and occasionally run promotions for new clients who we know will book again and again once they have enjoyed our service.
E. Volume Discounts If you're hosting a large event, inquire about volume discounts. Caterers often provide discounts for higher guest counts.
VI. Event-Specific Factors: Tailoring Catering to Your Occasion
A. Wedding Considerations Weddings tend to have higher catering expectations. While it's possible to find affordable wedding catering, be prepared for slightly higher costs due to these expectations. Here at Flying Woks, we charge a slightly higher than standard set-up fee for weddings, as we spend more time on the pre-function level with clients. We often have several zoom meetings, site visits, and menu changes which justify a higher fee. I do know of clients who have inquired for our services claiming it was for a birthday., even though it was catering for a wedding. They do this thinking they will save money, but I encourage you not to do this. Wedding catering requires you to build a relationship with your caterer, and the caterer may not dedicate as much attention to your wedding if they think they are catering for a birthday or something simpler.
B. Seasonal Price Variations The season in which your event takes place can affect catering prices. Consider how seasonality may impact your menu choices and budget. Some caterers will have a price guide that has low season and high season prices. Venues may do this too.
VII. Group or Organization Discounts: Leveraging Your Affiliation
A. Discounts for Clubs or Not-for-Profits If you're organizing an event for a club or not-for-profit organization, mention your affiliation when negotiating with caterers. Some may offer special rates or discounts for such groups. A caterer would prefer to sell four functions to one customer at a discount than four separate functions, as their efficiencies in dealing with the one customer four times, rather than four separate clients. If you can get the other retail outlet, the affiliated office, or the second location to have, for example, a Christmas party too, the caterer may offer a discount.
VIII. Food Cost Considerations: Finding the Right Balance
A. Cheapest Food Options for Catering When it comes to specific menu items, certain dishes are generally more budget-friendly than others. For example, pasta dishes, salads, and vegetarian options are often cost-effective choices.
B. Most Expensive Food Options for Catering
On the flip side, dishes featuring premium ingredients like seafood or filet mignon tend to be more expensive. If you're looking to cut costs, consider these options sparingly or explore alternatives.
In conclusion, finding affordable event catering involves a series of thoughtful decisions and considerations. By carefully selecting your catering service style, menu, and service options, estimating food quantity, gathering multiple quotes, and considering venue constraints, you can stay within your budget while delighting your guests. Don't forget to negotiate, explore discounts, and tailor your choices to the specific needs of your event. With these tips and strategies, you can host a memorable event without breaking the bank.
Happy catering planning!
Antony Paul Hooton,
Hi, my name is Antony Hooton I am the founder of Flying Woks.