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Most event organisers have a budget that they need to stick to, and this budget will impact pretty much every decision they make when planning an event. Food is an important aspect of any event and shouldn’t suffer just because of a budget. While catering can be a surprisingly expensive aspect of arranging an event, there are some ways in which you can make it fit your budget.

Read on to find out our tips for catering an event on a budget…

Choose an event format that suits your budget

If you don’t have the budget to go all out on catering at your event, you can always opt for serving drinks and canapes rather than a sit-down three-course meal. This will not only save money on large amounts of food, but it also cuts down the need for having lots of waiting on staff. 

Serving nibbles also gives guest attendees the opportunity to network and talk to others rather than being stuck with the same people at their dining table.

Opt for self-serve

Another way of reducing the amount you spend on catering is to opt for a self-serve buffet. You can ask your caterer to prepare some finger food or small portions that people can help themselves to.

Not only will this result in paying less to your caterer than if you wanted a sit-down meal, but it also reduces the need to have lots of serving staff. 

Keep spend on tableware to a minimum

When choosing your caterer, try to find one that supplies crockery, glasses and table linens at little to no extra cost. This can really help to reduce the amount you spend on catering, leaving you with extra money to spend on other aspects of your event planning.

If you can’t find a caterer that supplies cutlery or tableware, there are other ways in which you can cut down the amount you spend. For example, you could decide to serve wines, soft drinks and water in one, all-purpose style glass, or maybe serve finger food to reduce the need to purchase lots of cutlery.

Choose some simple and classic dishes

Simple, hearty food can fill your guest’s tummies up without costing a fortune. Stews, pasta dishes, curries and rice dishes can all be cost-effective options which caterers won’t charge a fortune to make. 

You can also opt for cheaper meat in your dishes, for example, swap chicken breast for thigh. Additionally, choosing foods that are in season can also help to reduce food spend. 

Use what you’ve learned from past events

Using the knowledge you already have about your audience is one of the best tools for figuring out where you can make the most savings. For example, experience from previous events might show you that your attendees actually care less about desserts, or that they aren’t always bothered about morning snacks and would rather just wait for lunch. Using this information can go a long way to helping you cater your next event on a budget.

While food will always be an important part of an event, by using some of these tips, it doesn’t necessarily have to take up a large amount of your entire budget.  


Here at Winter Gardens, we have a team of executive chefs on hand to create meals tailored to your specifications. You can choose from our pre-set options or create a totally bespoke menu to suit the needs of your event and guests.

Find out more about our catering service here


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