Jody Birnbaum
August 8, 2018

5 Ways To Save Money on Event Catering

August 8, 2018

5 Ways To Save Money on Event Catering

Jody Birnbaum

Throwing the perfect party without going broke is an art we are all trying to master. It can be hard to decide what to cut back on versus where you should go big. As the Director of Sales and Marketing at Catering by Michaels, I’ve found that these 5 event catering tips are the best way to save money on your next catering order while still serving great food.

#1: Appetizers: Passed Instead of Placed

Passing out your more expensive appetizers is a great way to minimize the potential for wasted food. It’s important to understand that people tend to grab more when there is a tray placed on a table but guests consume fewer items when they’re passed around by servers.

#2: Limit Options for Each Course

In general, the less options people have, the less food they will take. If you have a buffet setup with various food options, people want to try everything—even if they don’t plan on eating it all. Buffets often require more equipment, larger portions, and a higher food cost. A good rule of thumb for saving money? The fewer options for each course, the more you’ll be able to mitigate costs associated with food waste.

#3: Offer Plated Service

When catering an event, most people choose one of three options:

  • Action stations
  • Family-style
  • Plated meals

Action stations and even family-style meals tend to cost more money than a plated dish. This is because of how plated meals give you control over quantity and portion sizes.

Even accounting for multiple courses, knowing the exact amount of food to serve for each guest will certainly cut down cost and waste. Plated meals can also keep rental costs low—it’s hard to find the right platters at the right cost for family-style service!

The type of meat you select can also make an impact on your budget. So get creative with chicken or different types of beef (you don’t have to serve filet mignon). Or, select more affordable seafood options.

Here are a few budget-friendly meat options to consider when planning your next event:

  • Flat iron steak
  • Skirt steak
  • Short rib

#4: Don’t Skimp: Skip Instead

Don’t skimp on something just because you feel obligated to serve it. Today’s wedding trends push people to feel compelled to offer specialty sweet stations or other late night food offerings. Instead of doing it halfway because you think you have to—better to skip it altogether.

On a related note, don’t skimp on the food and drink that’s an expected part of the territory. For example, a cocktail hour without appetizers feels like it’s missing something. Similarly, an entree without a first course seems like an incomplete meal at a wedding. Don’t skimp on the things your guests may otherwise remember as a weird experience.

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Catering By Michaels
August 2, 2018

13 Do’s + Don’ts to Consider When Choosing a Caterer

August 2, 2018

13 Do’s + Don’ts to Consider When Choosing a Caterer

Catering By Michaels

With so many different options on the market, it’s hard to understand how to distinguish one caterer from another. It’s not just about the food—it’s about how they run their businesses and the customer experiences they create at events.

This week we sat down with our Executive Vice President David Sandler and he shared his 13 biggest do’s and don’ts when choosing a caterer:

Do: Have a Budget and Share That Information With Your Event Planner

Don’t: go into planning an event without a budget in mind unless the sky’s the limit.

Know what you want for your event before involving a caterer.

Do: Determine How Your Caterer is Different

If they claim to have the best food, they should follow it up with the awards they’ve won to act as proof (or reviews and references). You should expect your caterer to flush out their claims, otherwise, you shouldn’t take them at face value.

Do: Ask Questions

It’s important to build rapport and trust with your caterer so you can feel good about them handling your event. You also want to determine if they’re capable of understanding your vision.

Do: Determine if Your Caterer is Familiar with Your Venue

If you haven’t picked one yet, can they help you find/secure a location?

Ask about who else they work with — vendor partners. Are they reputable?

Do: Determine if They’re Flexible About Handling Everything You Want

Do they address food allergies ahead of time? Is their solution a legitimately good meal or something haphazard? Are they flexible about your preferred service style (like action stations vs sit down meals, etc.)? An inflexible caterer likely won’t be able to help you create the event of your dreams.

Do: Ask if You Get a Tasting

Every caterer is different. Whether or not you get a tasting depends on the nature of the event and how important it is. Don’t: lose sight of your budget if caterers try to upsell you during the tasting process. It shouldn’t feel like a bait and switch.

Know that some caterers offer a discount to not do a tasting—but don’t be tempted. Do the tasting.

Do: Get a Detailed Catering Proposal

This should include information about all the food, staff, and little details like utensils and linens that will be included.

Don’t: Assume things if the catering proposal is vague—ask. For example, a catering proposal that talks about a “premium bar” should include more detail about what brands of alcohol are included, and how many.

Also, do: take time to understand the payment structure and payment terms.

Don’t: Skimp on Service

Don’t assume you need a certain amount of servers—take the advice of your caterer. If the event has bad service, that’s what people will remember, not how great the food is.

DO: Ask about the math behind the servers, such as how many waiters they staff for how many guests. This will partially depend on the service style (buffet, sit-down meal, etc.). Catering by Michaels says who’s coming, when in our catering proposal.

Make sure to also ask questions like:

  • Who’s staff are they?
  • Are they employees or contractors?
  • Are gratuities included?

Don’t: Work With an Unresponsive, Untimely Caterer

This is most certainly a reflection of how day-of will go at your event.

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Whether or not you have experience working with catering companies, it can be hard to choose the best service option for your specific event. What’s the difference between full service and delivery? Let’s break it down and take a look at each different service type and what they include. 

Here’s a quick visual summary via an infographic:

Full Service vs Delivery Catering Infographic

And now we’ll take a more in-depth look at each…

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Catering By Michaels
July 2, 2018

BBQ Catering, Red, White, and BBQ — Summer Is Here

July 2, 2018

BBQ Catering, Red, White, and BBQ — Summer Is Here

Catering By Michaels

With 4th of July landing on a Wednesday this year, festivities are taking place all week long. For some, 4th of July means packing the cooler with sandwiches and drinks and heading straight to the beach all day long. For others, it means gathering all your friends and family over for a BBQ at the house or in the park.  

If you are planning a BBQ, we know hosting can be a handful, especially when it comes to planning the menu. It’s your party! You should be able to mix and mingle freely and not feel trapped in the kitchen.

If you’re familiar with Catering by Michaels, you know seasonality is important to us. Our chefs work hard to put together dishes that not only taste great but plate great as well. Our summer menu offers small bites, side dishes, main dishes, and desserts. So, whether you are interested in a fully catered menu or just some additional side dishes, we will work with you to make sure everything is perfect.

Flavorful Side Dishes To Choose From

If a BBQ means taking out the grill and throwing on some meat and veggies, we can leave the mains to you while taking care of any additional side dishes and apps.

Our summer menu features a variety of fresh, crisp salad options. From our classic BBQ Chicken Salad to our Watermelon & Feta Salad, you’ll be able to satisfy both vegetarians and meat lovers, alike.

If you’re planning a long day of enjoyment, you’ll have no problem keeping everyone’s appetite at bay with our selection of starters. Our customers are loving our Sliced Domestic Cheese Basket, Summer Maki Roll Assortment, and Summer Jump Shrimp Sampler.

Main Dishes That Sparkle

We get it (and don’t blame you) if you don’t feel like cooking. We will happily cater your whole menu! A few recommendations from our staff: Bone-In BBQ Marinated Chicken, Pulled BBQ Pork, and Beef Tenderloin.  Or choose from one of our many other main dish options.

All of our items come already cooked and prepared. All you have to worry about is what to eat first!

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We’ve all heard the saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. With Father’s Day less just a few days away, we thought it would be fun to ask dads throughout the company about their favorite summer meals.

Here are some of the most common answers to this question, based on our own catering menu offerings:

  • Mozzarella Tomato Salad
  • Elote Corn
  • Ceviche
  • Shrimp Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, Salsa Verde with Chips
  • Shrimp and Scallop Kabobs
  • Pulled BBQ Pork Sliders
  • Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
  • Blueberry Cobbler

Sensing a theme of fresh, grilled, and seasonal, we picked two of our favorite recipes to cook up for Dad next weekend. Make them yourself or put in a catering order and we’ll take over it for you!


Yield: 3lb

1 ½ lb mozzarella balls
1 ½ lb cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2/3 cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup baby spinach
½ tsp fresh peeled garlic, roughly chopped
¾ cup olive oil
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup dark balsamic glaze
Salt and pepper to season

Combine the basil, spinach and garlic in a blender. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly while the blender is running to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste, then strain the mixture through cheesecloth if desired, or leave as is.  Reserve on the side.

Bring the white balsamic vinegar to a boil and reduce by half to thicken. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Reserve on the side.

Just before serving, toss the mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, oil and reduced white balsamic.  Season with salt and pepper if needed, then drizzle with the dark balsamic glaze.


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