As we dive head-first into February, we’re continuing to see a primary focus on fresh ingredients and creative menus. However, as our clients become more experiential in how they approach food and beverage, it can leave those in the catering industry wondering how they’ll be able to afford to keep up. However, the demand for innovation and sophisticated palates doesn’t necessarily mean we need to splurge at every turn. In fact, there are quite a number of ways to creatively cut costs while still delivering the quality food that clients are seeking.
Bases & Stocks
When we think about what is important to our clients, it should go without saying that one of their top-ranking priorities is organic. Customers want that homemade, locally-grown feel, but unfortunately, that isn’t always in a caterer’s budget.
It’s great to be able to say that you’re a “from scratch” kitchen, all the way down to creating your own bases, sauces, and stocks. However, that isn’t always realistic. To save some money without sacrificing the integrity of your dish, consider buying prepared or semi-prepared items in this category. For example, these alternatives could allow you to lower costs on soups, stews, and salads, while still allowing you to incorporate fresh vegetables and spices into the dishes.
This particular category is multi-faceted, but believe it or not, there’s a lot to be said for saving on costs when it comes to taking dietary restrictions into consideration. Depending on circumstance, the move toward vegetarian and vegan options has drastically removed the need for pricey cuts of meat and expensive seafood fare.
Choosing locally grown produce and garnishes is extremely cost-efficient, and the most you would need to bear in mind would be substituting alternative proteins. Tofu, tempeh, and hearty grains such as quinoa are the perfect placeholders and when prepared with gourmet marinades, can be incredibly popular choices for guests and clients alike.
Minimizing Food Waste
Cutting down on how much food you waste may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be easier said than done. Take a step back and think about how each product you purchase is being used in each dish. Is it effective, efficient, and crucial to the quality of the overall meal? Are you overbuying any product that goes bad quicker than you can utilize all of it? If there’s an ingredient you use that doesn’t impact the dish as much as the additional cost of the item itself, you may want to rethink the menu’s budget and composition in comparison to the preferences of the client you’re serving.
On a related note, re-evaluate your offerings and identify what isn’t appealing to your clients. What you may consider to be a substantial dish may not be the ideal option for customers. Don’t waste your budget on dishes that simply aren’t selling.
Finding small ways to save can add up, even within a sales quarter’s time. It’s important to keep the wants and needs of your client in mind, and making a conscious effort to eliminate unnecessary costs can make a huge improvement in quality and your bottom line!