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By
Sarah Ward

Catering Menu Ideas: 3 Unique Catering Menu Plans to Try

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When it comes to how to start a catering business, you can’t get very far without catering menu ideas. In terms of getting a catering license, you often have to show your planned menu in your application. It serves as evidence of the food items you’ll serve at different types of catering events

From your catering service staff to your catering business plan, your catering business ideas need to be planned in detail. Deciding on your menu types and food options with ingredients and full meals is part of that planning process. After you’ve read through this BinWise blog post you’ll be prepared to plan out your menus and start up your catering business.

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Catering Food Menu Ideas

Having a plan for your catering food menu ideas is vital for business viability and success. If you plan your menu well, you’ll be ready to work at any event and grow your catering business. You’ll also make your kitchen staff happy because they won’t have to wonder how their work will change from event to event. 

These upcoming three catering menu ideas are good for any event. Yes, we included an idea about beverages in a post about catering food menu ideas. It’s important to consider your beverages just as much as your food. 

3. Rice-Based Meals

Rice-based meals are always a good idea. Rice can be purchased at a great price in bulk, it lasts, and it works with so many flavors. 

Some of the best rice-based meals are:

  • Paella verdura
  • Mushroom risotto
  • Chicken and rice soup
  • Crab rolls
  • Tofu bowls
  • Shrimp and rice
  • Chicken and rice casserole
  • Fried rice
  • Pesto rice and bean soup
  • Shrimp risotto
  • Curried chicken and yellow rice
  • Kimchi fried rice
  • Vegetable stir-fry

This list comes with a wide range of flavors and proteins. It also has options for different food needs–from allergies to dietary decisions.

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2. Batch Drinks

One of the best things you can do for your catering menu is to make the recipes as simple as possible. That means making batched items, and that applies to your drinks menu. 

Some classic and unique options for batch drinks include:

You can also mix up mocktails of these popular cocktails. That will help you to serve a diverse group–perhaps including a teetotaler.

1. One-Pot Entrées

The one-pot meal sensation has been sweeping across kitchens for quite some time. It’s equally well suited to catering kitchens, as it makes preparation almost effortless. 

Some of the best one-pot catering-friendly meals are:

  • Creamy pesto chicken pasta
  • Lemon garlic shrimp and rice
  • Goulash
  • White chicken chili
  • Roasted chicken
  • Cheesy sausage pasta
  • Lemon pepper chicken and orzo

You can invest in several pots to make these recipes easy for catering large events. In some cases, altering the recipes is as simple as multiplying ingredients and cooking times. 

"Key Takeaway: Planning your menu types and options with ingredients and full meals is an integral part of your overall catering business plan."

Frequently Asked Questions About Ideas For Catering Menus

A catering menu involves a lot of recipes, ingredients, food safety alerts, and coordinating with the party host and the kitchen staff. It’s also important for servers and your wait staff to educate themselves about different catering menu ideas. That’ll keep you ahead of the game and make your catering business one of the best. 

Our answers to these frequently asked questions will give you some more ideas for catering menus beyond our list in this post. These will help you prepare for new menu needs. 

What are the Most Popular Catering Foods?

The list of popular catering foods is vast and varied, and it includes:

  • Honey mustard chicken and potatoes
  • Lemon thyme chicken with veggies
  • Chipotle chicken
  • Mediterranean salads
  • Skewer meals
  • Sliders–similar to some cool bar food ideas
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Cheese boards
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Greens salad
  • Baked pasta dishes

The key to catering food is to cook something easy and to make in large quantities. It should also be something that lasts well for serving over the course of an event. If you keep those factors in mind you can come up with any number of catering menu ideas.

What Food Is the Cheapest to Cater?

The cheapest food to cater is any rice or noodle-based meal. Those ingredients are some of the easiest and cheapest items to buy in bulk. You can mix them with vegetables, proteins, and anything that works with the flavor profile. 

For rice-based dishes, we recommend a mushroom risotto, fried rice with different mix-ins, or tofu and greens mixed bowls. For noodle dishes, some of the best options are baked pasta dishes. However, a delicious and classic option is to make a cold pasta salad. 

What Foods are Easy to Cater?

There is a range of foods easy to cater because they can be made in a large batch and served with ease. This list, built around the different parts of a menu, covers some easy options:

  • Appetizers: pigs in a blanket, charcuterie and cheese board options, fried wontons, or the best Mexican appetizers are a good place to start.
  • Salads: caesar salad, pasta salad, macaroni salad, fruit salad, quinoa salad, and a house salad are delicious and simple.
  • Side dishes: potato salad, roasted potatoes, coleslaw, roasted asparagus, rolls, and potato wedge fries are tasty options.
  • Entrées: burgers, grilled chicken, one-pot stew, or chili are all easy options for entrée food.
  • Desserts: sheet pan brownies, pastries, cookies or sweet biscuits, chocolate-covered strawberries or blueberries, coffee cake, or whipped pudding are all easy to put together.

These options can help you piece together a full menu with easy preparation and simple ingredients. You can also offer these to the host as options and use any suggestions they have. 

What are the Types of Menu In Catering?

The common types of menu options for catering companies are à la carte, static, du jour, cycle, and fixed menus. These are also used in restaurants, and they all have their own benefits. When you work with one of these menu types and keep everyone in the loop it makes the entire effort easier on your team.

What are the Top Five Favorite Foods?

The top five favorite foods are a matter of great debate, as it entirely depends on what you enjoy eating. The top five favorite foods as a base level of food, worldwide, are:

  1. Wheat
  2. Rice
  3. Corn
  4. Pork
  5. Potatoes

Those base ingredients lend themselves to a wide variety of dishes. They even fit with many of the dishes we’ve recommended throughout this post.

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Catering Menus: Craft Before You Cater

Crafting your catering menu ideas gives you the level of preparation you need for a successful catering business. Once you find clients and events, your work will be a whirlwind of preparing dishes, working with hosts, and managing your staff. Having your menus ready ahead of time will give you one less thing to worry about. 

To make your work even easier, discover the inventory system support BinWise offers. BinWise Pro, paired with the BinScan mobile app, makes your process to take inventory a breeze and helps you keep track of everything. Mix BinWise with BlueCart for order management system success. 

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