• Lorna I. Robins

5 ways to get a better deal for your party catering

Updated: Apr 5

Firstly though let's share a little food for thought

An event must be a viable proposition to the caterer in order for them to make enough money to pay all expenses incurred by the client's event, this, of course, is obvious and true of all businesses but for some reason when buying catering, customers don’t think about this and think caterers are being unfair, unreasonable or expensive. It’s understandable, as a potential client who is emotionally attached to the celebration that they’re buying catering for and only wanted to spend a certain amount, then, of course, it would be frustrating.

This could also be because potential clients don’t buy catering very often and don’t really know how much it costs, or it’s been a long time since they paid for catered food and have not taken into consideration food and labour inflation.


Tight budgets

If you are on a tight budget it would be worth noting here that you shouldn’t expect to pay less than a McDonald’s quarter pounder meal per person or a Wetherspoons beer and burger for catered food, it isn’t realistic to think it would be less and better quality catering would be more. Don’t get me wrong there are cheaper food providers around but for a quality buffet, provided by a professional and experienced caterer it's worth having a little flexibility on that budget and surely just knowing your food has been prepared safely makes it worth it.


Minimum orders

Not only are caterers not being unfair or unreasonable with their pricing but they are also aware that food and the cost of producing it safely from a professional service isn’t cheap and so want to create menus for the best price possible for their clients. In order to keep prices low there has to be a minimum spend or headcount and the more people you are feeding the better the deal.

Even caterers who don’t advertise a minimum spend or headcount, be assured there is one, there has to be as it’s a business after all and menus, meals and platters etc have a minimum cost to producing them.

If your event is only for a handful of people and is much lower than the minimum headcount, you will still need your whole order to come to the minimum spend or find a caterer who specialises in smaller gatherings they sometimes have different pricing models and menu concepts and these would be worth looking into. Such as a personal chef.


As you’re reading this it is obvious that with some caterers the bigger the headcount for the event the better the deal and for small parties not so much. My friend don’t be downhearted as stated before, find a good caterer that fits your needs, pay for quality and value for money, this is not always the cheapest option but definitely the best option. If you decide you’re happy to pay the minimum spend with a specific caterer because you really love the food on offer then know that your caterer has got your back, the quality will be the best, the attention to detail will get more attention and some caterers will throw in extra treats for good measure.


In reality, catering is going to be the most expensive part of your celebration, you should price this up before you invest in other details of your party. Food is a very important part of all parties, not only does it soak up some of the booze but hungry people aren't very fun, all cultures all over the world celebrate with food, it’s more important than a photo booth, cake, balloons, party favours, DJ etc. The best way to plan your party is to write down all the items that are important to you, the date, venue and catering being at the top of the list and everything else in order of importance afterwards.


Here are 5 ways to get a better deal on your catering


1) Book using a deal or far enough in advance you could earn freebies

Don’t try and buy catered food with what is left of your budget, this is a party planning rookie mistake, food first and buy the rest with what’s left of your budget. Most caterers will have deadline deals or offer freebies for booking in advance, a caterer will usually have a 2-year calendar open for bookings, book your catering early and take advantage of the payment plan. If you didn't see a deal offered ask if there is a promotion or offer available.


2) Don't get sucked into feeling you have to provide a lavish spread

You don’t have to provide a large substantial meal, sometimes sandwiches with a few savouries and a bit of cake will suffice or even a hot dog or burger. This is a great way to get a better deal for your budget on catered food.


3) Don't be shy to ask your caterer if you can get a better deal

Instead of asking a caterer for a menu, why not ask them what they can do for your budget. Please be respectful though, we've heard it all so here are a couple of hints on how to negotiate a better deal. £1 a head is quite rude, as it would be like asking the caterer to work for free, you would not be taken seriously, you can’t even get a happy meal for a quid and it’s not good quality either.

However, £4 a head with a headcount over 50 may get your caterer moving to the negotiating table. And if you want hot food or something specific, you must be prepared to pay more than you would at say Wetherspoons. This is just a guide, caterers vary.


4) What if your budget isn't the problem your headcount is smaller than the minimum required

Ask the caterer if there is any menu available including corporate menus that has a minimum headcount less than an event menu or do they have food platters or boxes that can be made up for smaller headcounts. This may not always work remember the event has to be viable for the caterer, if you have a small order and it needs to be delivered on the other side of town, you may need to find someone nearer to you.


5) Here are a few other ways to get a better deal

Don’t order extras

Order from a caterer near to your venue

Buy your own table cloths

Get a drop off service

Have your party at home.


Blog post was written by Lorna Robins owner of Buffet Heroes in Stockport.

Buffet Heroes produce Grazing Tables and traditional cold & hot buffets in Manchester, Stockport and Cheshire areas of the North West.

Get in touch with email info@buffetheroes.com

Or quote form at https://www.buffetheroes.com/get-a-quote

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