How Much Does Catering Cost?
Catering is ideal for those that want to throw a party or event without having to worry about cooking, cleaning up, or doing any of those necessary kitchen chores. This is not only going to give you more time to enjoy the event, but also gives your guests a great variety of things from which they can choose to eat. The cost of a caterer is going to greatly depend on the size of the party, the type of food, the company, and many other factors.
How much are catering prices?
- On average, catering can cost anywhere between $8 and $75 per plate. Most caterers are going to fall between the $10 and $25 per person mark. Higher end caterers can easily reach the $75 price tag.
- Common catering packages such as a BBQ combination can cost anywhere from $10 to $22 per plate. This would include items such as BBQ chicken, ribs, and other BBQ favorites.
- For a corporate luncheon or meeting, many companies/restaurants can do box lunches. These are simple box meals that include a sub sandwich, chips, etc. This boxes can range from $5 to $19 per box.
- For example, GarysCatering.com located in Michigan offers entrees for $10 to $13 per person. These plates include mostaccioli, kielbasa, chicken, buttered corn, mashed potatoes, as well as many other food options.
- Local restaurants can create catering packages that can feed up to 20 to 40 people. For example, a local sub shop may be able to create a sub that can feed 25. A sub such as this could cost $120 to $200, depending the toppings. Other establishments such as a pizza parlor or deli can provide this same service. Inquire with many restaurants in your area as mist will have catering packages available at different prices.
- Higher-end resorts and hotels that provide appetizers, alcohol and the whole dinner can range from $150 to as much as $300 per person. This will widely come down to the geographical location and the resort providing the services.
What are the extra costs?
- Caterers generally won’t include items such as drinks or alcoholic beverages. While some services may be able to include them, these are going to be added to the plate fees.
- A professional wait staff and clean up crew will more than likely cost extra. While many services will clean up their food items, this is the most that most services are going to do.
- Most catered food can either be done on the spot or can be picked up from a specific location. For those that want to have the food delivered, this can cost extra. More than likely the food will be prepped and served the say of the party/wedding.
- Depending on the service, a tip will be recommended. While some add it, many expect it if they don’t. Plan on adding at least 20 percent for a good tip.
- If cake is present at the venue, additional cake cutting fees may apply. Plan on budgeting at least $1 per slice.
- If the party goes longer than expected, additional hourly expenses can apply.
What is going to be included?
- A meal plan is going to be developed before the event starts. This is a time to discuss how many people are going to be served, what kind of food you would like to have, as well as what the set up is going to be like. During this consultation, this will be the opportunity to sample the food. It will give you a good idea if the food suits your tastes.
- The caterers will either prep the food at their location or they can cook it on location (this will usually be slightly more expensive).
Tips to know:
- According to the The Bridal Association of America, the average catering cost for most wedding ranged from $80 to $90 per plate. With drinks, cake and dinner, the average bill for most weddings were between $10,000 and $13,000. This is for an average of 150 guests. Larger cities can see an increase of more than 20 percent.
- Make sure that the caterer is licensed by the state board of heath. This will ensure that they follow all proper guidelines when prepping food.
- Food plays a big role in pricing. For those who are on a budget, you may want to consider a chicken dish rather than something pricier like steak or beef.
How can I save money?
- Monday through Thursdays tend to be a caterer’s slow day. Many companies will be able to give you a discount that can range from 5% to 20% off when you order on these days.
- Meet with the caterer to discuss your options. Many of them will be more than happy to work out a plan that will meet your budget.
- The more people that eat at an event, the more you will be able to save. Most catering companies will put the prices into three groups. These groups include less than 50 people, 50 to 150 people and 150+ people.
- It is ideal to talk with at least 3 different companies. Read reviews online and maybe talk to people you know who have used caterers to get a suggestion.
- Consider catering the food yourself. While the task may seem hard, it can be organized if you have friends and family help. A traditional buffet is usually the way to go.