Co-workers sitting around a table having lunch.

This step by step guide on how to order the perfect catering for your next meeting will put your mind at ease.

If you’ve ever been in charge of organising the food and drink for a meeting at work, then you will know how stressful it can be - but it doesn't need to be!

Follow a few simple steps and tick everything off our business catering checklist to ensure your meetings all go off without a hitch.

Who needs to be at the business meeting?

It's hard to set a budget, pick a venue or choose a cuisine if you don't even know who will be in attendance.

Knowing the number of guests (and who they are) can help you figure out your costings per person, find the perfect space that will comfortably fit everyone and decide on cuisine that is suitable for everyone's tastes and dietary requirements.

How long will the meeting be and when is it?

The length of the meeting can help determine how much catering you'll need. If it's just an hour or two in the morning or afternoon, tea service should be more than enough.

But if you're running an all-day session to discuss annual business goals or team planning days, you'll probably need to think about providing more food for the attendees.

The time of day will also be a factor - will it be breakfast or lunch foods that you'll need to prepare? Will it be summer when you'd want fresh foods or winter when you're looking for comfort?

Knowing the length and date of the meeting can help you best move onto the next step...

Where will you host the meeting?

Whether it's a meeting room in your office or you're hiring a space offsite, you'll need to consider not just the size of the room for your group, but the facilities on hand.

If you're going off-site, here's a few things to ask:

  • Will there be a fridge to keep food and drinks cool?
  • Does the room have coffee and tea-making facilities?
  • Are microwaves available to re-heat food if needed?
  • Is there cutlery and crockery available?
  • Are extra tables available to set up food platters or a buffet, or are individual boxes a safer bet?
  • Are you looking to hire staff to service the meeting?
A group of people sitting around a wodden table having a meeting.

How large is your catering budget?

Once you know what the venue is like, how long the meeting will be and who's going to be there, it's time to set a budget.

For shorter meetings...

If you'll only be gathering for a couple hours and don't require much food, any budget of about $15 per person or more should make it easy to find a wide range of catering options.

For the same price, you should be able to get some cheaper catering options for a lunch meeting, including sandwiches, wraps, salads and sushi platters.

For longer and all-day meetings...

One thing to keep in mind for all-day meetings, is that the more meals that are included, the greater your budget will need to be.

For catering for business meetings that run all day and will require a few different meals, including morning tea and lunch and snacks, you'll need to budget for each of those - so at least $30-$40 per person. Keep it on the higher end if you'd like to have less traditional  catering-style lunches or if you want to have any waitstaff come to help.

People serving themselves at a buffet.

How to create the perfect menu for business meetings

This is the most critical step in organising catering for a function. From catering classics and Instagram-worthy gourmet grazing tables, to delicious international catering options, the choice alone can seem daunting.

Variety is the spice of life

We all love a good sandwich, but probably don't want the same ham-and-cheese toasty every day! If the meeting is a reoccurring affair, why not pick a new food theme each time? With Japanese, Mexican or even Indian catering services all available alongside traditional caterers, there is an endless array of menu options to chose from.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and have some fun with your corporate and event catering, too. If the the Olympics aren't far away, make it an international spread and order from different specialty food services or some favourite foods from, the host country. Halloween around the corner? Bring in some spooky treats to shake up your afternoon tea.

Consider the time of day

Whether you’re planning an early morning breakfast meeting, a working lunch or a corporate afternoon tea, you’ll want specific catering to suit that occasion.

You may require coffee, tea and breakfast snacks for a morning catch-up or a buffet catering solution for that lunch meeting. If you're thinking about kicking on after the work is done, consider finger food or grazing tables paired wine and beer.

Make sure you cater for special diets

Whether your guest is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, or simply health conscious, making sure you have all the special dietary requirements covered is essential so no one goes hungry.

If you're not sure about everyone's requirements, as a general rule of thumb, we suggest making roughly 25% of your total order vegetarian and gluten free.

One thing to definitely check, is that no one has any serious food allergies. As much as cross-contamination is avoided by our caterers, some allergies are incredibly sensitive and just being nearby can cause a reaction.

Your business meeting catering checklist

  • Find out who needs to be there (and how many mouths you'll need to feed)
  • Determine long will the meeting be and the date it will be held
  • Choose a venue, whether in your office or off-site (and see what their facilities are like)
  • Figure out how many meals you'll need to provide so you can set a budget
  • Choose a menu and don't forget to factor in special dietary requirements


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Written by:

SEO & Content Marketing Specialist

Spending much of the last decade juggling eating her way around the world and working within the travel and lifestyle content marketing space, Alex joined the EatFirst team in 2022. With 15 years of experience under her belt, she specialises in content strategy, SEO, writing and editing. Some of her favourite eats include Japanese, Thai and Italian, and she’s a firm believer that pineapple has no place on a pizza.

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