You have an event to plant. An office meeting, a cocktail party, or a wedding ceremony coming up in a few days and among the many things you must plan for is the reception and accommodation of invited guests. You have to plan for everything from seating to programming, and from lighting to eating. Planning a meal course for an event is perhaps the hardest, most inconvenient, and delicate task of all.
Of concern is how to match the event with an appropriate meal course whether you are planning a party, a sporting day, a corporate meeting, a religious gathering, or a birthday celebration. The cost and time of cooking the entire meal are oftentimes infeasible. So too is the likelihood of simply ordering out for bulk fast-food packages. In these moments, the only option is to look for outsourced catering. The question that remains now is how to select the appropriate and satisfactory caterer to hire, commission, or contract. The answer to that question is, in most cases, answered by the menu you select for the event.
Indeed, the quality of a catering menu usually helps profile the caterer you select. Besides the commercial trickery of how a menu is arranged, it is important to determine whether, in reality, the menu is in accordance with your needs and requirements. So, what about an outsourced catering menu should you look for to help you make a decision? What elements of the menu are vital to consider, and why? This article highlights five key features of an outsourced catering menu that are central in making your final decision on which caterer to hire.
Features to Look For Before Paying for a Catering Menu
1. Healthy Alternatives Offered
Today, food has been associated with numerous short-term and terminal health problems. Certain food choices, regardless of taste or popularity, are deemed unhealthy or health threatening. A significant section of the guest list is health conscious, and they would only appreciate a menu that acknowledges and respects their healthy preferences. So, evaluate the menu on whether the items offered are healthy or have healthy options, particularly for things like sport-related occasions. While the catering menu may offer assorted meals that are mouthwatering and extremely inviting, an equally important question is whether or not they are health conscious. The difference between ordering from a fast-food restaurant, buying food items from a supermarket, and hiring an outside caterer, is the score of healthier foods.
2. The Question of Cost and Value
Perhaps a more important consideration when qualifying a catering menu is the pricing of assorted food options, and whether the cost is justified by the value offered. The cost-value exchange is a critical quality of an outsourced catering menu. The menu prices should be affordable and competitively justified for their cost, in both the main course and alternatives. While the cheapest is not always the best choice, the outsourced catering menu must necessarily justify the item pricing with the value provided. As such, do not qualify a catering menu only by how cheap it is, but also by the value ration offered in its pricing.
3. Adequate Selection to Serve All Your Needs
After considering the affordability and competitiveness of the menu, it is then good to determine how adequately the menu may serve the needs of your event, meeting, or party. Some events mandate the presence of specific food and drink items. Preferably, the menu should have a wide variety to choose from. While certain occasions would be adequately served by soft drinks and sandwiches, fries and or breakfasts, others need full-course dishes. It is, therefore important to look at the variety of options offered, and how they might appeal to your guests, and to your occasion.
The menu should provide a wide selection of quality foods and drinks, with reasonable quantities accounted for. It is also important to determine if the catering menu provides adequate and foresighted options for guests who may be eating a restricted diet. Whether vegetarians, gluten-free, alcohol-free or otherwise, an outsourced catering menu should provide an adequate selection to choose from.
4. Quality of Food on Offer
You might not remember what you chose several months after the event, but you will usually remember how delicious, or otherwise, it was. It is not just about the cost, the number of items available, or the healthy food score, it is also about the taste and quality promised by the outsourced catering company. Take a look at the catering menu based on the quality of food it promises. Ideally, you should settle for nothing less than what you want in quality, and you’ll be weighing that with an adequate selection and affordable prices.
Some menus offer relatively inexpensive choices for a wide selection of diets and are defined by high-quality food. Always look out for that catering menu that promises well-prepared courses, with an assembly of fresh and natural ingredients which is prepared custom to your order. You don’t want a menu that will be delivered with a chaotic taste, but rather a planned out dining experience.
5. Requisite Accompaniments for Food and Beverages
Finally, regardless of how good a catering menu seems, you must also consider the availability of accompanying requirements. How well have the outdoor catering packed and wrapped the food options? Does the outside caterer deliver the order, or do you have to collect it in person? Is the menu, affordable or inexpensive as it may be and regardless of quality and variety, accompanied by an ideal catering setup? Does the menu account for the event space? Does it come with accompanying furniture, or utensils necessary for serving food?
It may surprise you that some catering menu packages come along with pans, warmers, tongs, fridges, buffet setups and related accompaniments. Some even include item naming for the packed or boxed meals, respective of the invited guests, as an added advantage to the catering menu. Your final decision for the ideal catering menu must also take into account the availability, provision, and adequacy of accompaniments to the foods and drinks served, as a value-adding complement.