At times, catering for an event can seem like an impossible challenge. One of the biggest struggles event hosts or organizers face is arranging catering for large parties of guests while sticking to a budget.
Luckily, there are some tricks of the trade that will help you to budget effectively while still producing a delicious spread.
In this guide, we will be giving you some tips on how to cater for 100 guests on a budget. Once you have read our advice, you should feel more confident in your ability to provide good food for 100 guests without breaking the bank.
Confused about how much food you need to provide? See our article on Calculating Food Portions For Catering
How Much Does It Cost To Cater For 100 Guests?
Well, we’ve already established that you’re on a budget. However, it’s important to be realistic about how many people you can feed for a specific price. This will depend on the kind of food you serve and how you serve it, in addition to the number of guests.
You may have read that the average cost of catering for a 100-guest wedding is around $7,000. However, that’s not a budget-friendly estimate.
On average, you can comfortably cater for 100 guests to an impressive standard for about $25 per head. Thankfully, this puts the budget at a much more comfortable $2,500.
If you’re wondering how that’s possible, read on.
Are you curious about how much money a caterer can make? Read What Is The Average Profit Margin Of A Catering Business for some insights
Is Self-Serve More Budget-Friendly For 100 Guests?
The first decision you will need to make when catering to a large party of guests, no matter the budget, is whether you will serve a sit-down meal or a self-serve buffet.
Since you’re working to a budget, it’s definitely better to prepare a buffet and allow guests to help themselves. You can put together a buffet for between $25 and $50 per head without compromising on the standard of your catering.
Are you running the annual Christmas celebration this year? Check out our Catering Food Ideas For Christmas Parties.
How Can I Use Tableware To Cater To 100 Guests On A Budget?
This is a simple trick you may not have thought of, but it really works. You can easily use tableware to your advantage when it comes to budget-friendly catering.
One of the best ways to make the food go further is to use smaller plates. This is because studies have shown that large plates encourage people to take more food. Clearly, with parties of 100 guests, food can quickly start to disappear unless you are smart with your crockery choices.
In contrast to big plates, small dishes allow guests to heap food onto their plates. This makes them feel that they are eating more without necessarily doing so.
And while we’re on the subject of tableware, you can also minimise the cost of plates, glasses, and cutlery to stay within your budget. If possible, see if the venue for the event can provide its own tableware.
If not, there are still steps you can take to prevent the tableware from taking up too much of the budget. For example, you could make the choice to serve all drinks in a single style of glass rather than investing in different glasses for wine and soft drinks.
You may also decide to go without tablecloths if the tables at the venue look good uncovered.
Of course, if you choose to use an outside caterer, they may well include crockery etc. See our post on Ultimo Catering for an insight into a professional catering company.
What Food Should I Serve 100 Guests On A Budget?
Now that you have made decisions about the serving style and table set-up, it’s time on to the nitty gritty. What food you will serve your guests that won’t push you over budget?
When you’re limited by a tight budget, the best thing to do is keep things simple. Don’t worry – that doesn’t mean you have to serve your guests boring food. It simply means that you should choose classic ingredients that are easy to find for a budget-friendly price.
Meat can be costly to purchase and prepare, so where possible, we recommend serving plenty of vegetarian or vegan options since these are typically more cost-effective.
Don’t feel like you need to be extravagant with the hors d’oeuvres. You only need two or three options to satisfy everyone, and these don’t need to be too big. After all, if your guests get full after the first course, you’ll end up with leftover food, which is a waste of money.
You should also think about which world cuisines can be prepared most easily on a budget. Thai food, Mexican food, Indian food, and Chinese food can all be prepared in an interesting way without splashing out on expensive ingredients. All of these cuisines can also be served buffet-style.
When it comes to desserts, some budget-friendly options include ice cream, fruit and cheese, and brownies (these can be prepared in large batches with simple ingredients).
Just like the main course, dessert should be served at a buffet-style dessert station where guests can take only as much as they want. This will avoid the annoyance of wasted food and keep you on track with your budget.
Should I Serve My Own Wine?
Catering to large parties on a budget becomes more difficult when beverages are involved – especially alcoholic beverages.
While it might seem convenient to serve wine from the venue, most of the time, it actually works out cheaper to serve your own wine at the event. And that’s even if you end up having to pay the cost of corkage.
Additionally, you should try to have a few non-alcoholic, inexpensive drink options for guests to choose from, minimizing the amount of wine you will need to serve at the event.
Lemonade, for example, is a popular soft drink option that many people will actually choose over wine, especially at a summer event when guests are in need of refreshment.
Remember, the keys to successful budget-friendly catering for large parties are self-service, minimalistic tableware, simple but classic menu options, and serving your own wine.
Thanks for reading our guide to catering for 100 guests on a budget.