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Catering

Catering On A Budget

When it comes to catering, sticking to a budget is important. No one wants to spend more money than they have to, but running out of food can be an embarrassing issue. If you have an upcoming event, here are some cost-effective catering ideas and tips to help you please your guests while staying within budget.

Breakfast All Day
Morning menus are often cheaper so serving breakfast or brunch for lunch can be a smart option. Simply up your game with breakfast proteins like ham, bacon, and sausages served in casseroles, breakfast burritos or frittatas. Add a bagel, juice, and yogurt bar, along with fruit trays and pastries to round out the meal.

Buffets vs. Boxed Lunches
While boxed lunches can be convenient in most situations, a buffet-style lunch can be more cost-effective for larger groups. Your guests can mingle while enjoying the variety and freedom to build a plate to their liking. For smaller gatherings, you may want to opt for boxed lunches, and those with food allergies, dietary restrictions, or picky eaters can order their own meal to minimize waste and stay within budget.

Choose Meats Wisely
Less expensive cuts of meat, such as chicken, can help you please the crowd while controlling the cost. Enhance these meals with vegetables, stews, or curries. In addition, an all vegetarian menu can not only address dietary concerns but save you money overall.

Choose Cost-Effective Cuisines
Some types of foods are more expensive than others. If you’re looking for budget-friendly foods, steer toward Mexican, Indian, Thai, or Chinese cuisine over Japanese, French or Italian dishes that tend to be higher in price per person.

Time Is Money
If possible, put a time cap on your event. Rather than hosting an all-out, all-night shindig, opt for a shorter event, such as after-work happy hour. In this case, hors d’oeuvres can go a long way, reducing costs and pleasing guests since finger foods are fun and filling.

Bar Basics
Providing a full open bar can be costly and tricky. If you want to serve alcohol at your event, try creating one signature cocktail supplemented with beer and wine. Or you can simply limit it to beer and wine to keep your budget in check.

Nix The Staff
Depending on the event, you may not even need staff. Keep it casual to cut labor costs and catering price. Caterers can set up the food per your directions and employees can serve themselves.

Portion Control
When it comes to catering, we often over-order to prevent having too little food. The problem is that this can become costly and wasteful. Here are some simple guidelines for proper catering portions:

  • Proteins (ex. pulled pork, brisket): 4-5 ounces per person
  • Fried chicken or similar dishes: 3 pieces per person
  • Tacos: 2 per person
  • Sushi: 8-10 pieces per person
  • Side Dishes: 4 ounces per person

If you are looking for casual, cost-effective catering, look no further than the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli! From boxed lunches to sandwich catering packs to meat and cheese deli trays and more, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call at 909-596-5225 to discuss your options. You can also find us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Office Catering Tips

So you’re looking to cater an office meeting or networking event. Regardless of the formality of the event, the same catering questions and concerns remain regarding the amount of food, type of food, and so on. Lucky for you, we’re sharing some great tips on nailing the catering for your office meeting or company event.

Variety
When it comes to office catering, everyone loves a little variety. For a regularly-scheduled team lunch, hot food trays served buffet style are an impressive option. If you’re catering a working lunch, platters of finger foods may be easier and less messy. And if you want to impress clients, opt for a taco bar or Mediterranean mezze – this requires no extra effort, yet excites eaters as they get more variety and control in what they’re eating.

Hot Vs. Cold
The type of event you are catering will help determine whether you should serve hot or cold food. With team lunches, food is often the focus, which is why hot food is a smart choice. It is not only filling, but it is meant to be served and eaten right away. With a working meeting, food is more functional and thus, cold foods are a better option as there is no need to reheat in case a meeting runs long.

Dietary Requirements
These days, vegetarian and gluten-free options are necessary. It is recommended that you provide at least 25% vegetarian options for a mixed crowd, as non-vegetarians enjoy meatless options as well. In addition, vegan, nut allergies and other requirements or intolerances among your guests need to be considered when planning your event catering. A simple RSVP asking for dietary requirements can help you choose the appropriate menu.

Portion Planning
So how much food should you order? This is the most common question, and it really starts with you and your event. Think about what your attendees are expecting and what your goals are for catering this event.  Which of these statements suits you?

A.    We’re only providing food so that people show up to our event, but we’re really not looking to feed them a proper “meal”.
B.    We want people to leave satisfied, but nothing too crazy.
C.    We’re really looking to provide people with a good amount of food.

Once you decide which best suits your event, you can plan your choices around your budget. Budgets will dictate the amount of food that is ordered.

Aside from the budget, you need to consider the actual attendees. Aside from the head count, how many males and females will be there? Generally, men eat more than women, so if your guest list is mostly males, you will want to order extra portions, especially if it is buffet style.

Self-serve finger food platters will disappear much faster than passed trays. Typically, four canapés per person per hour is the minimum amount. While ending up with too much food is not ideal, it is much better than running out. Besides, the extra food will get eaten eventually.

Budget
Starting with a predetermined budget will make it easier to narrow down your catering options.

  • Breakfast – The budget for one item (fruit cup, mini muffin, bacon and egg slider, cake slices, a serving of crackers and cheese) averages $5 each – some will be less, some will be more. Generally, 2-3 items per person for breakfast is preferable; for morning or afternoon teas, 1-2 pieces can be enough (keep goals for feeding guests in mind).
  • Lunch/Dinner – An allowance of $10 is usually good for a full sandwich per person. A budget of up to $15 is normally enough to provide a reasonable amount of variety (ex. pasta, roasted meat, salad, or steamed veggies). This also depends on the number of people you are ordering for – the more people who eat, the more variety you can provide.
  • Finger food/Networking – As mentioned, the general recommendation is 4 pieces per person per hour. High-quality canapés range from $2-$4 per item. Platters (meat and cheese board, antipasti, etc.) are a good, budget-friendly option without compromising quality. Anywhere from $10-$15 per person would be a decent budget for a light nibble.

Drinks
You may also want to consider beverages for your event. If you will be serving alcohol at your event, a rough guideline is to allow one person one beverage per hour. But you should always have non-alcoholic options. Providing self-service water pitchers or jugs is generally more cost-effective and convenient – just be sure they are being refilled. For casual office events, you can provide individual bottles or set up a self-service station with larger bottles of water or juice and cups.

Plan Ahead
Reserve your order ahead of time to ensure you get the desired menu options, date, and time. Thos can also eliminate any last minute rushes and added stress. Check with your catering choices to see how much lead time they need for catering orders and plan accordingly.

On-Time Delivery
Provide clear and complete delivery information – ex. parking instructions (if it is paid parking, this may be added to the final bill), logistics information (which may include loading docks or service lifts directions), and any other specific access information. Most importantly, the driver must have a contact name and number onsite to receive the deliver upon arrival. If you will be too busy to tend to this detail, designate someone else to be the main contact and ensure the delivery is correct, complete, and on-time.

Expect The Unexpected
Things don’t always go as planned. To accommodate a changing guest list, it is best to order for the minimum number of people you are anticipating (which reserves your spot) and then wait until the cut-off lead time to add to the order if necessary.

Did you know we offer catering services? From sandwich platters to salad trays to boxed lunches, we can cater to your needs! To learn more, call 909-596-5225 or visit BrickMarketDeli.com to explore our menu. And you can visit us in store for breakfast or lunch 6 days a week, and connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Finding The Right Caterer

A lot of planning and hard work goes into executing and hosting a memorable event. Whether it is a party or special occasion, choosing the right catering services can make or break your event. When searching for quality catering services, keep these things in mind.

  • Knowledge

If you are looking for a specific cuisine or cooking style, you want to choose a caterer who possesses the appropriate knowledge. They should be able to help you build a creative menu to specification.

  • Skills

Along with knowledge, the right caterer should also possess exceptional cooking skills. A good caterer will have confidence in their food and will usually offer free tastings to prove food quality.

  • Budget

A good caterer will also work with your budget while still providing quality food and service. Before any contracts are involved, you should get a clear cost breakdown of the services.

  • Food Safety

First and foremost, food safety should be top priority, and any caterer or chef worth his grit knows this. Be sure you choose a catering service that values food safety and ensure that your food is prepared in a sanitary, health-inspected kitchen. In addition, make sure your caterers can transfer your food safely.

  • Skilled Staff

Should your catering service come with staff, you want to make sure that all staffs are adequately trained, and that there is adequate staff available. They should be able to efficiently deliver food and interact appropriately with guests.

  • Flexibility

Your caterer should also be able to adapt recipes for dietary concerns such as allergies and sensitivities. Be sure you can modify the menu options based on special dietary requirements of your guests (ex. shellfish allergy, vegan/vegetarian options).

  • Accessibility

Be sure the catering service provides contact information, whether an email address or phone number, that they respond to promptly. They should be able to answer your questions regarding the event, and easily accessible should anything come up before, during, or after the event.

  • Experience

With experience comes better knowledge on the appropriate amount of food and drinks for the expected number of guests. Experienced caterers will also have a better scope of what works and what doesn’t in various settings. They can help you create and execute a flawless event.

  • Contracts

Before the event, the catering company should provide you with a contract that confirms and covers all the details discussed and agreed upon. Be sure to review this closely to ensure the pricing and details are correct before signing.

  • References

Gain confidence in your catering choice by contacting past references. Before you even ask, the caterer may even provide references from past clients. You can also do your own research, or get recommendations from family and friends.

Share your own tips for choosing catering services on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest!

Let the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli cater your next meeting, party, or special event. To learn more about our catering options, please call 909-596-5225.

Catering Service Styles

When you think of catering, a buffet table set up with numerous chafing dishes may come to mind. But there is much more to catering than that. There are various catering services to choose from depending on the mood of your event, whether formal or relaxed. Review these catering service styles to determine which will work best for your next event.

Butler Passing
One of the classier styles, butler passing involves the wait staff walking around the event carrying a tray of hors d’ oeuvres or beverages for guests. It can add a touch of elegance to your event, and is often a great way to get guests ready for the main event. For example, you can use butler passing as guests wait for the wedding party to arrive for the reception dinner.

Stations
These allow your guests to get up and move around, which promotes mingling. Guests can explore the different stations and get excited for what’s next. A great theme for this type of catering service would be “around the world” where each station is set up with foods influenced by various regions.

Action Stations
These stations offer foods made to order. Think a carving station or build-your-own omelet station. Your guests get to watch the chef prepare a fresh, custom-made dish just for them. To avoid wait times, many items are partially prepped.

Self-Serve Buffets
Food dishes are commonly set up on a linear table and guests proceed down a line to pick what they want. This is a more casual approach, offering guests a wide variety of foods. The downside is the potential for running out of food before everyone has a chance to go through the line.

Portion-Controlled Buffets
To combat the aforementioned potential issue, portion-controlled buffets have attendants on hand to serve guests as they go down the buffet line. Once everyone has been served, you can open the buffet up to guests who may want more.

Plated
Plated service means each guest is served a meal individually, and is commonly encountered at weddings and formal events. The tables are often pre-set with china plates, stainless flatware, glassware and linen napkins. This catering style is labor intensive as it usually requires a waiter for every three tables, plus additional staff to pre-set tables, plate food, and to clean up. Also, ensuring that all guests are served before the food gets cold can be challenging, especially for larger groups.

Family Style
This is more relaxed in contrast to plated dinners. Guests are seated at banquet tables and food is served on large platters placed in the middle of the table by waitstaff. Guests then help themselves to the items and portions they would like. Family style dining tends to foster interaction.

Before choosing a catering service style, you want to evaluate a few things.

  • What type of mood would you like to set for the event (formal, relaxed, interactive)?
  • How long will your event last?
  • Will you provide a full meal or hors d’ oeuvres only?
  • Define your budget. Remember that some services are more labor intensive than others (ex. plated meals, action stations), and thus, more costly.

The Brick Your Neighborhood Deli offers catering, ideal for casual business or staff meetings or office lunches. To learn more about our catering, visit us in store or call 909-596-5225. For the latest news and updates, connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.

Catering: How Much Food Do You Need

Hard work goes into planning a special event, and worrying about something going wrong can cause lots of stress. There are plenty of elements to consider, including catering services and the amount of food you need. To avoid the embarrassment of running out of food, we are sharing some smart event catering tips to help you out.

First of all, here are some of the most important factors to consider:

  • Number of guests
  • Length of event
  • Type of event
  • Type of food

These are especially important because, for example, the food required for an evening cocktail party will be noticeably less than that needed for an all-day event. And remember, the longer guests stay, the more food they will consume.

To be safe, you always want to round up when estimating. Some guests may eat more, others may eat less, and in the end, it should all balance out. Anticipate which food and drink selections will be more popular and order more of those.

In addition, if you are having numerous food options, it would befit you to serve them in smaller portions so that guests may try a little bit of everything.

Here are more helpful catering guidelines for your next special event or gathering:

Appetizers

  • If you are only serving appetizers in the evening (no dinner to follow), plan on at least 10-15 pieces per person. If it will be served buffet style, round up – people tend to eat more in this situation than if a tray is passed.
  • If you are serving pre-dinner appetizers, 3-5 pieces per person should suffice. And since dinner will follow shortly after, choose lighter options.
  • Plan on 1-3 pieces per person for a mid-day function with a meal to follow.

Beverages

  • Plan on about 3 beverages per person. And on average, coffee drinkers consume one cup every 1.3 hours.

Breakfast

  • People will generally drink 2 beverages (juice, coffee, tea, etc.).
  • Shoot for a main entrée (about 5 oz. per person), along with two sides, including bread.
  • Fruit makes an excellent breakfast dessert. You should plan on about 3-5 pieces of cut fruit, or one cup or less of fruit salad, per person.
  • If you are only serving pastries, plan on 2 pieces per person.

Lunch

  • For hors d’oeuvres, provide about 2-4 per person.
  • Serve a main entrée (about 5 oz.) with 2-3 sides, including starch and a dessert.
  • Offer a selection of drinks (ex. soda, beer, lemon water, etc.).
  • For sandwiches, allow for 1 to 2 per person.

Dinner

  • Depending on the number of courses, provide about 3-5 hors d’oeuvres per person.
  • Serve a main entrée (5-7 oz.) with 2-3 sides (veggies, beans, pasta, etc.).
  • Offer small portions of bread, salad, or soup.
  • Always have water, along with other beverages.

Desserts

  • Anticipate 1-3 servings per person.
  • Offer one slice of cake, tart, or pastry, or 4 oz. of a creamy dessert (ex. mousse).
  • Serve smaller portions if you have a wider variety.
  • It should be noted that coffee consumption peaks after dessert is served. Set up a post-dessert coffee bar or refresh the coffee pot while dessert is being served.

Do you have any other catering tips to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

If you’re looking for an easy and cost-effective catering option, choose the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli. We provide our signature sandwiches, fresh side salads, and tasty desserts. Visit us online or call 909-596-5225 to learn more about our catering options.