Menu Planning for a Large Group

We all know, one of the most important factors of any event is the FOOD!  

However, pleasing all your event guests, especially when dealing with a very large crowd, can be tricky.  Every guest has their own preferences and some have strong aversions to or even allergies to specific foods.

Here are some things to consider when deciding on a menu for your next large event:

Eliminate Lines – Having food available throughout your event so guests can eat when and what they choose without standing in long or rushed lines is the key to a positive experience. Be sure to choose a vendor that has experience serving large crowds. The appropriate amount of service lines as well as a time-tested process for food preparation and service is critical to reducing lines and ensuring food is hot and available at all times.   

Keep it Simple – Too many food choices might cause slower lines or the most popular items to run out early. Offer a variety of 2-3 different proteins and sides.  This will give your guests enough options to feel accommodated but won’t overwhelm them with choices or make your service too complex.

Any items that take assembly, such as tacos or salads bars, might cause long lines and may not be an ideal choice for a large number of attendees. These menus work much better with a smaller, more intimate crowd.

Options for Everyone – Keep in mind, each guest does not need to love every item you offer, but it is important to try and have at least one protein and side that works for most common dietary restrictions. Garden burgers are a simple and well-received choice. Sides such as macaroni and cheese or vegetarian baked beans will also meet your guests needs. Be sure your vendor provides signage letting guests know that these alternatives are available.

Know your Audience – Be sure to consider the demographics of your guests. If your event includes kids, think about items both kids and adults love.  If the menu is more adult themed, consider adding a choice for kids such as hot dogs or macaroni and cheese.  

Also consider the general expectations of your group.   If this is a crowd used to casual food, they may be thrilled at a simple, but delicious picnic menu of hot dogs and hamburgers.  If your group is expecting a higher end menu, you can impress them with a variety of BBQ selections.   Perhaps you would like to offer a custom, special treat of grilled steak or a lobster bake.  A caterer experienced in serving large crowds should be able to offer you options at multiple price points while still ensuring quick, convenient service to your guests.

In our current environment of social distancing guidelines and no contact service expectations, it is still possible to cater to a large group of employees.   Menus can easily be adapted to carry out or grab and go service styles.  Buffet service is still a viable option with extra precautions of hand sanitizing, gloves, staff served items and prepackaged choices.  Pleasing your employees and guests just takes some careful thought and planning on the front end, no matter what challenges there are to overcome.

Planning an event for a large group might seem like a daunting task, but with the assistance of your Project Manager, you can feel confident that your guests will have a variety of convenient, quality food offerings.  Contact us today to start planning your next event!