20 Food Ideas For Catering Vans and Food Trucks

From a classic burger van to a food truck serving crepes and Pad Thai, there are so many brilliant food ideas for catering vans and food trucks. What’s more, a truck is cheaper to buy than a shop, making it a great option for anyone considering starting a catering business

20 Catering Food Ideas For Catering Vans

Sharing your love of food and the gift of cooking doesn’t always require opening a restaurant or a home catering operation. Increasingly, starting a food truck is a popular way to go. It has lower start-up costs and is an effective way to market yourself, your culinary skills and to connect directly with customers. 

For anyone looking to start their own catering business but not too sure about what foods to offer, we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll share 20 of our favourite food ideas for catering vans and food trucks.

Mac And Cheese 

Mac And Cheese

Mac and cheese is a well-known and much-loved culinary delight. For lovers of cheese and pasta, what could be better? Uncomplicated to make and easy to serve; mac and cheese is a smart choice for a food truck. Though seemingly simple, the options of what can be added to such a dish are endless.

You can do anything from switching up the type of cheese and pasta used to suit different needs or add ingredients such as meat, vegetables or herbs to give it a unique twist. 

Hunting for the Best Italian Restaurants in Perth? Well, look no further.

Toasted Sandwiches

Toasted Sandwiches

On a cold day, when you just feel like having something quick but delicious, there’s nothing quite like a hot toasted sandwich with your favourite filling.

Toasted sandwiches are great for versatility as they can be made with a variety of fillings to suit different tastes. From cheese-filled toasties to meatball or vegetable-filled toasties, the potential is endless.

Is money tight? See our Cheap Catering Food Ideas

Burgers

Burgers - food ideas for catering vans and food trucks

Burgers are another versatile food option that can be tailored to suit different tastes and dietary requirements. For example, you can switch the burger buns from plain buns to brioche. There’s a lot of potential in this area.

And then there are the actual burger fillings. There is so much possibility for adaptation. Giving people the option to add to their burgers and change up their filling options is a great food idea. To go the extra mile, you could offer homemade relish or a selection of sauces. 

Want to try the Best Burgers in Sydney? Check our guide.

Hot Dogs

Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are a classic go-to comfort food. Whether it’s meat or vegan, hot dogs are delicious and a perfect quick hot treat. They are perfect for lunch or just a quick bite.

If you’re looking for a food idea that will bring a smile to peoples’ faces, hot dogs are definitely the way to go. Why not offer the works and throw in additional toppings and ingredients such as caramelised onion, salad and relish. 

Are you doing food for a festival or fair? Our article on Festival Catering Food Ideas has some great suggestions

Pizza

Pizza

Pizza is a classic food van option that always goes down a treat. Offering takeaway pizza is always well received. Pizza is another food idea that you can really get creative with.

Why not have a theme for the pizzas you offer such as vegan pizzas, gluten-free pizza, and thick or thin based pizza. There are so many options of pizza flavours and how you could potentially present them.

Pizza is the perfect food idea if you’re looking for something you can get creative with and put your own stamp on. 

Corn Dogs

Corn Dogs

Corn dogs are a classic American favourite and another fantastic option for a mobile food. Simply put, Corn dogs are hotdogs dipped in a corn batter. This all-American food idea is great for a themed food van.

These can be topped with classic mustard or you can get a little more inventive and spice up the batter. In fact, some opt for sweet batter made with honey. 

Do you have an Engagement Party coming up? See our Catering Food Ideas For Engagement Parties.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

When you think of food vans, you probably think of traditional things like hot dogs and hot chips. Well, these are great options, but don’t be limited by expectations. Food ideas for catering vans and food trucks can go in many culinary directions.

For example, for a truck themed around baked goods, cupcakes are a fun option. Cupcakes can be presented creatively and quirkily to attract both the casual passer-by and the sweet-toothed consumer.

Icing and flavouring can be used to make some really creative patterns, designs and combinations of flavours. Cupcakes are also fantastic for special occasions. Whether it’s a small gift or for a large event, cupcakes are the type of sweet treat that people will repeatedly return for more. 

Pastries

Pastries - food ideas for catering vans and food trucks

A pastry-themed van is perfect for offering baked confectionery. The choice of pastries is vast – from cinnamon rolls, danishes and croissants to custard tarts, scones and donuts. Baked goods are the perfect sweet treat.

After a long day of shopping, a hot pastry and coffee is a popular choice of refreshment. There are numerous types of pastry doughs from flaky croissants and puff to shortcrust and filo pastries. Offering unique pastries is an excellent food idea for a niche and quirky food truck.

Falafel

Falafel - food ideas for catering vans and food trucks

Now we’re talking!

Falafel is a delicious food item that can be eaten on its own or added to a salad. Whether it’s made from chickpeas or broad beans, falafel is a great dish option that can be served hot or cold.

Falafel is a great food choice for a street food style catering van or a van that offers a selection of Middle Eastern cuisine. Best of all, Falafel can be made with a variety of ingredients to create bold fusion flavours.

Love Middle Eastern Cuisine? Then read our piece on the Best Lebanese Restaurants in Sydney

Samosas

Samosas

Samosas make a delicious side or snack. These savoury filled, crispy pastries are a fabulous choice for a street food style catering van. Samosas can be made with different fillings and made into different shapes. Served hot or cold, samosas are delicious.

A samosa catering van has the opportunity to offer a variety of flavours from meat-filled samosas to cheese-filled samosas. There is plenty of potential here. There is also the potential to make different samosas to suit different dietary requirements. 

Feel like Chicken Biriyani tonight? See our guide to the Best Indian Restaurants in Melbourne

Kebab

Kebab

From doner kebabs to kofte and shish kebabs, there are so many options that you could offer customers. Kebabs are always a great food option as a lunchtime bite or a late-night snack.

Offering kebabs with fresh and homemade ingredients is a great idea for catering food. There is also potential to expand the variety of meats you use, and the selection of vegetables and sauces. 

Check out our rundown of 20 Popular Catering Dishes

Sushi

Sushi

Not surprisingly, sushi is a winner for fish fans. There’s something magical about the combination of rice and raw seafood. There are so many different types of sushi with an extensive selection of toppings that are suitable for a variety dietary requirements.

Sushi is definitely one of our favourite food ideas for catering vans and food trucks as it is good to eat any time of day. In addition, it is quick and easy to make – once you’ve mastered the technique.

Want to try the Best Japanese Restaurants in Brisbane? Check out recommendations

Pho

Pho

The Vietnamese noodle dish is a heart-warming dish that is perfect for the lunchtime and dinner rush. Pho (pronounced ‘fur’) is a light yet hearty dish that can be made using a variety of ingredients to create bold and vibrant flavours.

Pho and other broth-based dishes (such as ramen) are increasing in popularity as a healthy food choice. As a catering option, pho is a winner, as it can be economically (and conveniently) cooked in large batches and served hot. 

Pad Thai

Pad Thai - food ideas for catering vans and food trucks

For a Thai inspired catering van or street food van, Pad Thai is a delicious food idea. Not only is Pad Thai packed full of flavour, but it also features bold colours and a great blend of ingredients that will lift spirits.

Pad Thai is a dish that can be customised. Though commonly made with only a handful of ingredients, different vegetables, herbs, spices, meat, fish or eggs can be added to it. 

For more Thai inspiration, see our article on Thai Catering Food Ideas

Curry

Curry

There are numerous different types of curries from all around the world. Most consist of bold, rich spices and zesty, tongue-tingling flavours.

If you specialise in making curries, there is plenty you’ll have to work with. Whether you opt for South Asian, Indian or African-inspired curry, the potential for what you can offer is extensive. 

Burritos

Burritos - food ideas for catering vans and food trucks

Have you ever had a burrito? A warm wrap filled with a perfect combination of natural ingredients that are lightly grilled to perfection. Yum! Burritos are a favourite street food in many parts of the world

Burritos can be filled with a variety of ingredients to create an explosion of bold flavours. This is a great food choice for a Mexican-inspired catering van or food truck. 

Fancy a night of tacos and tequila? See our Best Mexican Restaurants in Melbourne

Tacos

Tacos

Tacos are another fun food option. Filled with colour and flavour, tacos are perfect for eating with a group of people. For anyone looking to offer food that brings people together, tacos are the way to go. They are inexpensive and convenient to produce and simple to serve.

Tacos are also something that can be easily customised by offering a selection of fresh ingredients for customers to choose from. 

And for a list of the Best Mexican Restaurants in Melbourne, see here.

Fried Chicken 

Fried Chicken

For many fans of chicken popcorn and crunchy nuggets, a fried chicken stand is something of a dream. This is a catering option that will enable you to amp up your creativity by offering homemade marinades and seasoning combinations.

Whether you offer the whole chicken, wings or drumsticks there is a lot of potential here for a street food style chicken van. 

Do you ever find yourself with Leftover Chicken? See our recipes.

Barbeque

Barbeque - food ideas for catering vans and food trucks

Barbeque food vans can offer everything from barbecue veggie skewers, corn, ribs, fish, chicken and so much more. To be honest, there’s not a lot that can’t be barbecued.

For all the bbq fans out there, offering a selection of barbecue favourites and classic sides such as coleslaw and salad will definitely be met with open arms.

Have you considered taking this one step further and trying Spit Roast Catering? Check out our article

Crepes 

Crepes 

The classic French crepe is one of our more sophisticated food ideas for catering vans and food trucks. The delicateness of crepes is what makes it such a treat. With just a few ingredients, you have the perfect base for a range of toppings. Sweet or savoury. We feel that this is a catering food option that deserves to be more popular.

From the classic lemon and sugar to chocolate-filled crepes to savoury crepes filled with cheese or ham, there are many options to offer your potential customer base.

Dylan Cole

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