How to Cater and Plan Events
- 1). Start with an idea of the number of people you are catering for. Whether it's for 300 or 30 or 10, you need to be prepared and not wait till the last minute with details.
- 2). Develop a simple menu. If you are catering your own affair, you probably want to save money. Search for recipes that don't require a lot of ingredients. Whether it's an informal picnic kind of event, or a formal wedding affair look for things that can be purchased or made and kept in the freezer. Think of your main dish first. If it's a meat that will be grilled or roasted you will probably need 1 lb. per 4 people. This can be adjusted slightly for chicken on the bone (you'll need a little more), or ground beef for Sloppy Joes or barbecue (you'll need a little less).
- 3). If you are doing a more formal affair, your side dishes may be garnished for elegance, but still kept simple. Roasted red potatoes are easier and less expensive that potato salad. Garnish the potatoes with parsley and herbs that look, as well as taste good. Rosemary and thyme are great for roasted potatoes. Potato salad will take mayonnaise, eggs and other ingredients, but it can be made a day or two ahead of time. At least cook the potatoes and eggs the day or so ahead and assemble the salad that day. Letting the salad marinate overnight adds to the flavor. Either one will take one large or three small potatoes per person. Five lbs. of potatoes should feed 20 people.
- 4). Look on the can of items you purchase. #10 or restaurant size cans are available in special sections of most grocery stores. Check out the large items there or go to a store that specializes in large quantity items. One can of instant mashed potatoes can have almost 100 servings. Read the label and then multiply by the number of people you are expecting.
Plan on 1 and ½ servings per person. Some will eat more and some less. The rule at my house is, "When we run out, we quit eating". If you run out of potato salad, they can eat baked beans. Don't get so anxious about the party that you forget to have a good time. Let others help you. And Don't Wait Till the Last Minute!
- 5). Last, make good transportation arrangements. For a party or other large event use disposable dishes or see about borrowing or renting them. Unless you think you are going to use the items often, catering cases and chafing dishes are expensive.
Always keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
If you are going to a park, you will need plenty of coolers and ice. If you are choosing hot food, make sure there is a place available to heat things or keep them warm. Crock pots are terrific for keeping food hot, but you will need electricity. Think ahead.
Think of these arrangements when you are preparing your menu, not after the items are cooked and need to be where you are going. If you cannot keep food the right temperature, don't cater the event. Food poisoning is not worth the money saved.