Developing a selection of menus for your catering business can be challenging. To a certain extent you can question the client as to their preferences but from there you are on your own. You will have to come up with your own menu creations that also fit in with the client’s requirements. Some clients may not know what they want at all and you may have to show them a variety of menu options.
Here are some catering menu ideas for you to consider as you proceed to put your own menus together.
Type of Event
Think about the people who will be attending, the kind of food they might like and what kind of volume they may consume. Things that you may have to think about here include age, gender, culture and socio-economic background. Will the event be formal or casual?
Timing of an Event
This is an obvious one really. Whether you serve dishes suitable to a breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, morning tea or afternoon snacks will depend on what time of day a catering event is scheduled.
Clients may have a theme in mind for an event and want you to work in with it. Even if they don’t it is quite a marketable concept to have menus in themes that tie in with table decorations and server uniforms. Regional themes work best for food such as an Italian or Asian theme.
The Client’s Budget
This is going to have a large impact on what is possible in terms of a menu and your catering services. The budget will determine the ingredients that you can use, what dishes you can serve and in what volumes you can serve them.
Number of Guests Attending
Working out an average amount that you expect the guests to eat will help you to plan a menu. You have to make sure that you prepare appropriate servings that give everyone enough to be satisfied without having too much left over food that may go to waste.
Some catering companies have rough guidelines for the amount of food required per head. For example, caterers may estimate that the average adult will eat 180 grams of meat, chicken or fish, 180 grams of carbohydrates (potatoes, rice or pasta), 160 grams of vegetables and 80 grams of salad. Every catering business owner has a different opinion here so adjustments can be made once you know what you are doing.
Where will you be Preparing the Food?
This will determine what equipment you have access to and thus what dishes you will be able to create. If you are preparing the food onsite then you won’t have the hassle of transporting it to the venue. If you are preparing it from your own commercial kitchen then you may be able to do more much more than if you are using facilities that you are not familiar with.
Good Menu Combinations
Foods should go together on serving trays or plates in a way that they will compliment each other with regards to taste and visual appeal. Menus for an event should also be planned out in the right combinations so that the overall menu has the right balance of meats, dairy products, fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates and fats and oils.
Wherever possible you should give people variety. Let them add their own salad dressings, sauces or condiments.
Catering to Dietary Requirements
When consulting with a client you should ask them if they would like you to include dishes in the menu that cater to specific dietary requirements. You might include some vegetarian or vegan dishes and others that may be specifically for people with food allergies.
Having certain dishes that you can say are low fat or low in carbohydrates is a good idea for catering to those who may be on diets.
Contemporary Food Trends
People expect something special from a catering business these days and you have to give people new and exciting dishes. Depending on the client and the guests the best way is usually to balance some modern cooking styles with classic dishes.
What Foods Make Good Business Sense?
It is great if you can work out which dishes and food items allow your catering business to make the most profit? You need to understand a lot about the current market prices for all commonly used ingredients. Some foods are seasonal and are therefore usually only profitable when they are in season.
When presenting a client with a variety of menus that your catering business offers give them the chance to upgrade to more expensive options involving more expensive ingredients.
The Number of Courses
The more courses you include, the more service staff you will need and the more dishes and cutlery you will need to bring. Remember that some ingredients should feature only once in a multi-course menu. You wouldn’t want to have a chicken soup on the menu if you also had roast chicken as part of the main course for example.
Study Menus at Restaurants
Whenever you are eating out at a restaurant or at a catered event, seek inspiration from menus that have been put together by other people. More importantly, judge the reaction of the people who are being served and eating the dishes in question.
Over time you can improve your menus by taking note of which dishes were popular and which were hardly touched. Drop the losers and go with the most popular dishes while testing new dishes from time to time.
You will also notice that once you get started you will get numerous new catering menu ideas popping into your head and through customer feedback.
Planning your first set of catering business menus doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you go about it in an organized manner. Just pretend that you are having 120 guests over for a dinner party!
For articles on preparing a catering business plan as well as many other topics visit –
Starting a Catering Business
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