How to Plan Your Budget for Your First Office Catering

Office catering is a great way to boost employee morale, thank your team for their hard work, and make them feel appreciated. It’s also the perfect opportunity for networking, kicking off new projects, or brainstorming creative ideas: a win-win situation for both the company and employees. 

Your budget is often a limiting factor when planning an office party, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With a clear budget, you can narrow down your choices, plan your event better and keep everyone happy, including your boss!

If you’ve never worked with an office catering budget before, don’t panic! Here’s everything you need to know to get started:

1. Choose the Type of Event

The first step to setting up a catering budget is to be clear about why you are organizing the event in the first place. A casual lunch for a small team will require a different budget and less preparation than a fancy holiday party. Ask yourself the following questions to narrow down your options:

  • What is the occasion? Holiday party, team building, or business meeting?
  • How formal is it? Formal, business casual, or casual?
  • What type of meal? Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or snacks?
Once you know what you want, it will be easier to plan the menu, calculate serving sizes for catering, and get quotes from different office catering services.

2. Start Planning Early

The advantage of office events is that you don't have to search for a venue months in advance. However, there are many other details to work out, such as the headcount, the date and time of the day, and food preferences. By planning early, you will be able to provide great food for the office at a price you can afford.

Headcount: To set up your budget for catering and calculate per-meal costs, you must do a headcount of the people invited.

Date and time: Do not disregard the date and time of the event. If it's a Friday and everyone is available, you can have a dinner buffet. But if it's during the day and people are in meetings all day, sandwiches or lunch boxes are a better choice.

Food preferences: When planning your catering budget, consider everyone's dietary needs. You should be able to offer vegetarian and vegan meals, calorie burning foods, as well as alternative options for people with allergies or food sensitivities..

3. Review Past Expenses

If your company has had office catering in the past, reviewing those expenses can help you plan things better this time. Look for the following information:

  • Office catering services you used in the past
  • Deals you have previously got
  • Number of attendees
  • Type and amount of food served
  • Cost of past events
Make a list of what you think has worked best in the past and put all the information into a spreadsheet to help justify the budget for the event you are planning. Then, based on the type and size of the current event, you can adjust the amount your company has previously spent.

If your company hasn't had a catered event before, you can look up pricing for office catering services in Newbury Park for the type of event you're hosting and add these to your spreadsheet.

4. Set Up Your Budget

Once you have a better idea of the event, it's time to build your budget in your spreadsheet, establishing the maximum amount you can spend. At this point, this is still a rough estimation, as your figures will change as you modify priorities, negotiate with your office catering services or add previously unexpected costs.

To finalize the estimated costs and maximum amount you can spend, find out the per-meal limit from your boss or finance department. It also matters where your budget comes from. If you have to allocate expenses from a team budget or your discretionary spending, you'll want to account for future events before finalizing the budget for this one.

5. Find a Caterer

With a budget in hand and approved by your boss, it will be easier to find the right caterer for your event. You may want to compare several office catering services before hiring one. Let them know about all the details and your estimations; that's how they can give you an accurate quote. Don't forget to include the type of event, the headcount, the dietary preferences, the time and date, and the number of options you'd like to see.

Before hiring a caterer, consider the following factors:
  • Location: Catering services in Newbury Park will have lower transportation fees than caterers covering a longer distance.
  • Cuisine: Try to find caterers offering your preferred cuisine and variety, but be open to new ideas if needed.
  • Costs: Now you know how much you can spend per meal. Find a caterer that is within your budget. Watch out for unexpected costs or upsells, and see whether there is room for negotiation with them.

When working with a caterer, it's important to clearly communicate your goals. That's how they can help you deliver great food at a price you can afford!

The Best Budget Friendly Catering Near Me

Setting up a budget for catering may seem daunting at first, but a clear budget helps you plan your event better, narrow down your options and find the best catering services for your needs.

If you're looking for office catering services in Newbury Park, you've come to the right place. Pickles Deli has vast experience in drop-off catering and pickup for all kinds of corporate events. So whether you want to impress your staff with a lavish dinner or serve quick sandwiches at lunch meetings, we can help you find delicious options that everyone will love—well within your budget!

Get in touch with Pickles Deli at (805) 480-4800. or have a look at our catering menu and start planning your first office event today!

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