People often think of catering as a pricey luxury, but with clever planning and efficient space utilisation, you can cut down on food waste and keep costs under control. One such way to save money is by using grazing boxes rather than serving platters. Read this article for tips on how to set up grazing boxes successfully.
1) Make an Inventory List of Your Dishes:
Before you start setting up your event, make sure you have an inventory list of each dish and its respective location in the kitchen (e.g., table 1, top; Table 12, bottom). This will help ensure that dishes don’t run out unexpectedly and that they are replaced promptly wherever needed. Furthermore, check the number of servings against the number of people attending the event, to make sure you have enough food.
2) Organise Your Dishes into Grids:
Using a marker pen, label the back of each dish with an identifying number or letter. Each plate should be labelled with one definite identifier to avoid confusion later on. Then, use glass serving platters for dishes that are meant to be served hot, and plastic trays for chilled items.
Note which presentation each dish should receive (e.g., vegetables served in bowls). Place all of the identified serving plates in one large grid on the kitchen countertop so that they can be easily carried out when catering events begin.
3) Place Grazing Boxes at Each Table:
The advantage of grazing boxes over platters of food is that there is no need to consider the presentation of each dish; which makes them ideal for casual events like summer picnics. To arrange your grazing boxes, start by placing large dishes at the bottom (e.g., for serving slices of cold meats or cheese); these can be placed on low tables if necessary.
Place small bowls and plates above these larger ones (e.g., olives). Use smaller platters for fillings such as French fries, vegetables, dips and spreads. Arrange crudités in tall glasses with some sort of colourful garnish (e.g., parsley sprigs) around them to enhance their appeal.
4) Serve Your Guests:
The best way to serve your guests from your grazing boxes is to let them serve themselves. As a courtesy, provide serving utensils such as tongs or forks for use in the larger dishes and refresh these items if they get dirtied during the meal.
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The size of the box you need is dependent on how many people you are catering to and how much food they eat (obviously). With that said, there are some general guidelines for setting up grazing boxes:
A good portion size for one serving would be between 6-8 ounces; remember, these servings are not huge like standard restaurant servings. If this amount seems too small, increase it. If people take more than one serving then things could get messy quite quickly! Keep in mind that most people usually want 1-2 servings of protein, 1-2 servings of starches and 1-2 servings of vegetables.
6) Setting Up Like A Buffet
Another thing to remember is that you cannot put everything into one box – or else it’s just too overwhelming for people to graze on. Grazing boxes should be set up similarly to the way you set up a display at a buffet table; it should be arranged so that the food seems enticing and appetizing while still allowing for food variety.
As far as how much food should be put into each box, that all depends on how hungry people are and how long until the event will start. There is no exact formula for this because every event is different! Many catering companies like to use 1 pound of protein per person (in addition to veggies, starches and desserts) as well as 2 pounds of non-starchy vegetables and starches (like bread and salad).
Again – these numbers can vary greatly depending on your event, so make sure you do some research beforehand to get a better estimate of how much food you will need.