If you work in an office setting, you’ve probably eaten about a bajillion catered lunches—but how many of them can you actually remember? Unless you had a to-die-for Reuben from your favorite café or a chicken pot pie just like your grandma used to make, office lunches probably all seem to blur together. Sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to do something a little more memorable?
The right touches—even small ones—can easily elevate ho-hum catered breakfasts and lunches to something more special. At CaterSquad, we’ve learned from experience how to make catered meals stand out! Here are our top tips.
1. Ask the Experts
When putting in a meal order, you may not know which dishes travel best or which combinations of entrees and sides are sure to be a hit—but guess who does? The catering company’s employees!
Ask your catering point of contact which menu items are their best-sellers (or let CaterSquad’s experts find out for you). Inquire, too, if they have recommendations for food combinations, serving suggestions, or storing leftovers. This small step allows you to highlight the best of what a caterer has to offer, as well as provide the best possible meal for your clients or staff.
2. Add Ambience
Any time a meal is served, appearance and environment matter. Studies have shown that the ambiance around a meal can significantly add to our enjoyment of food—and even the amount of it we consume. You don’t have to bust out the candles and crystal to enhance a dining experience. Even a few little details may go further than you think.
If budget allows, invest in a few basic tablecloths and centerpieces that can be used and reused. Try printing menus that showcase a meal’s diverse options and create a bit of anticipation of the deliciousness to come. Consider the appearance of the space where food will be served. Is it clean or cluttered? Does everyone have a comfortable place to sit, or will people have to balance plates on their laps? Providing solutions to these basic questions can mean the difference between a memorably enjoyable meal and one that’s memorable for the wrong reasons.
3. Get Organized
While you’re paying attention to presentation, remember, too, that there’s a logic to the serving of food. Before your order arrives, place yourself in the shoes of whoever will be eating. For serving buffet style, walk through the line yourself and imagine exactly how you’d make your own plate. Does the placement of each item in the line make sense? Alternatively, if food will be distributed around a meeting table, be sure everyone has easy access to flatware, napkins, drinks, etc. A well-thought-out flow saves time and frustration, come lunchtime.
4. Stay Present
The food has been delivered. The staff has sat down to nosh. But you’re not quite done here! Play the long game of a great catered meal by staying mindful of the presentation (and preservation) of food as a meal progresses.
If serving buffet style, keep a watchful eye on the amounts of food in each container. Scrape smaller amounts into smaller containers, where they’ll look more appetizing and hold their temperature better. Maintain cleanliness in the dining area by sweeping off stray crumbs and tossing used plates and utensils. Finally, when all is said and done, package leftovers quickly! No one likes to look at past-its-prime food left sitting out.
Don’t forget to tap CaterSquad’s experts for help ordering catered meals that will impress!