Catering for 100: lessons I learned

My lovely sister and her husband celebrated their recent wedding with a party last weekend.  to cut back on costs we catered ourselves.  Mum, Lucy, The Groom’s Mum, Auntie and I took on the challenge of catering for over 100 people.  Here I’ll share with you some lessons that I learned which I hope will help if you are ever in that situation 🙂

catering for 100

Preparing the food

Find a balance between cost and convenience

Just because something is cheaper, it isn’t necessarily the best use of your time.  A bag of pre-washed lettuce may be more expensive than getting a couple of lettuces and doing it yourself, but have you really got the time to chop, wash and dry it?  Could your time be better spent.

Allow enough time

I know, it sounds boring, but plan, plan, plan.  Think about things which can be done in the days before, maybe cooking a quiche, pizza or two a day or so before and serving them cold.  Keep the day free from other responsibilities.  If anyone needs to get hair or makeup done, bear that in mind in your plan.

Know your portions

Love Food Hate Waste have a great party planner.  You type in how long the party will be, and it will tell you how many items you will need per head.  For example, for a party lasting 3-4 hours they recommend 10 items each.  General guidelines state to expect a 70-80% drop out rate.  You can’t plan for that so bear in mind that…

You will have leftovers

You have to accept that in being a good host you want there to be more food than people can eat, you don’t want to look stingy.  Think in advance about how you will use the leftovers.  Bread rolls and cold cuts of meat will make nice sandwiches for lunches, but if you have a lot of sandwiches left over they can end up dry.  Having said that, leftover sandwiches will make a great savoury bread and butter pudding for packed lunches.  Simply add eggs, milk and cheese and bake in the oven.

Keep it simple

This relates to the above post.  Keep your things simple and let people customize food to suit.  For example, don’t dress the salad, leave out dressings which guests can add themselves or instead of sandwiches leave out cuts of meat and bread rolls.  This means that the food will appeal to more people (consider those with special dietary requirements) so you will have less leftovers, and what you do have will keep better, and will be fit for more uses.

Know your location

Get to know what is on offer in terms of kitchen space, equipment etc.  You don’t want to find on the night that there is no knife to cut your cake or be fighting over surface space.

Make sure you have enough plates, cutlery etc

You don’t want to have to spend time washing dishes when you should be enjoying yourself.

Catering for 100What are your top tips for party organising?  Tell me your tales…

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