Finding Problems With Your Restaurant

Four Ways To Get Creative When You're Catering On A Budget

by Peppi Hautala

If you're hosting a wedding, one of the biggest expenses is no doubt catered food. You want to wow your guests while still sticking to a budget, and if your finances are limited, this can be really challenging. Here are four ways you can save money and still have beautifully presented, fun food your guests will love.

Put It on a Stick

There's no law that says you have to offer a traditional sit-down or buffet meal at your event, even if it's a wedding. Consider letting your guests fill up on hearty appetizers instead of a fixed plate. A low-cost way to do this is to serve foods that are usually entrees as appetizers on a stick.

Here are some suggestions that go beyond conventional chicken satay or lamb kabobs:

  • burgers: layer a patty with half a tomato, bacon, cheese, and a jalapeño (skip the bun for gluten-free guests)
  • chicken Caesar salad: extra-large crouton, grilled chicken, and lettuce, drizzled with creamy, garlicky Caesar dressing
  • tortellini: four or five cheese-stuffed pasta bites dunked in pesto
  • breakfast: mini pancakes or waffles skewered with fruit

Serve It from Shooters

Serving from smaller containers, like a shooter, can make food look inviting while saving you on the cost. Aim for a shooter glass that's somewhere in between a shot glass size and a full-size parfait. Try these shooters for fun alternatives:

  • mashed potatoes with fixings like bacon bits, grated cheese, and sour cream
  • cinnamon dusted churros in chocolate sauce
  • french fries in dipping sauce (try mayonnaise, spicy ketchup, or Thai peanut sauce, like on the streets of Amsterdam)
  • grilled cheese sandwich strips with dunk sauce

Forgo a Cake

A huge expense at any wedding meal is the cake. Wedding cakes are very labor intensive and take days to make. Preparing the icing and decoration takes real artistry. If there's one mistake, the entire dessert can be ruined.

Think about forgoing a cake in favor of something like cupcakes or stacked cookies with icing in between. You still get the visual impression of a cake, because each piece can be frosted and decorated. However, the overall labor is less and does not need to be completed by a master cake baker. This alternative is also great if you can't decide between different flavors or colors--you can have them all!

Offer Midnight Munchies

If your event goes late into the night, it can expensive (and potentially dangerous) to keep your bar going into the wee hours. Why not offer some midnight munchies to your guests instead?

After a rollicking time on the dance floor, try heading everyone to a milk and cookie bar. You could also pass donuts and cider or set up little flames to make s'mores. There's no end to how creative you can get on a bare bones budget.

Catering a large event doesn't have to be as expensive as you might think. Try some of the tips above, and your guests will leave both full and happy with unique memories of your special occasion. Contact a catering company like The Great Wall Restaurant to see what you can work out.