There are many important aspects involved in putting together an event, but one of the most important – if not THE most significant, is menu planning. The food that you serve can become the make or break point of your celebration. No matter how fabulous your decor is, how elegant your venue looks like, or how expensive your giveaways are, if your food leaves a literal bad taste in the mouth, then that’s most likely what your guests will remember and talk about post-party.
If you want to know how to concoct a delectable selection of food, here are some menu planning suggestions you’d want to make use of for your next event:
1. Consider the time of your party.
Celebrations can happen at any time of the day. There are early morning breakfast get-togethers, lunch parties, mid-afternoon celebrations, and dinner events. Meals served in the early hours of the day are expected to be relatively lighter, with salads, simple pasta dishes, and fresh offerings like fruit-based desserts as great options. Lunch and evening parties on the other hand can have more variety and dish choices as guests are expected to consume more at these times of the day too. In doing your menu planning, you should also keep in mind the general weather during the time of the party – add more refreshing, cold choices during the summer and spring, and soupy, as well as sizzling dishes will be most welcome during the colder seasons.
2. Keep it simple.
A well-planned party food spread does not mean having a full buffet of all your favorites. Do consider your party’s overall ambiance and theme – is it casual or formal? If it is the former, go for food that’s easy to consume. Finger foods like canapes and sandwiches are good choices. You can complement them with a couple of main dishes that match the flavor palette of your appetizers. Menu planning for formal dinners or luncheons give you a wider breadth on what to serve, but do be mindful not to overwhelm your guests’ taste buds. Saucy and flavor-rich dishes can take center stage, but limiting them to two or three will help keep a good balance.
3. Maintain flavor and color equilibrium.
The success of your menu planning depends a lot on the contrasting and complimentary flavors and colors of your food choices. A spicy dish or two will add that bit of excitement to your menu. Keep the balance by having more refreshing selections in your menu. Breads and deli plates can do the trick. Vegetables and dessert options on the hand will enhance the texture and color of your party food spread. Keep the symmetry by having different crispy, chewy, and tender food items in your list.
4. Food tasting is always a must.
Once you have your food choices down pat, it’s important that you actually check out how they taste together when consumed within minutes apart. Menu planning will never be complete without you going through the food tasting stage. Be prepared for it by having a light meal of neutral-flavored food beforehand. This way, you will be able to better appreciate the flavors and textures of the dishes you are going to taste-test. Make sure to inform your caterer or food supplier of your observations about each dish, and let them know if you wish to make some slight tweaks too.
5. More is better than ‘not-enough’.
There is no bigger dilemma in a party than not having enough food to keep your guests happy and full. Work with your caterer on food serving estimates, and make sure to have a generous allowance to accommodate the attendance of unexpected guests. A managed buffet is always a good choice, as it enables you to have better control of how much food is served during the duration of the party.
Careful and meticulous menu planning should be a must-do in any event that you put together, whether you’re just having a few people over or expecting a party of a hundred or more. At the end of the day, a celebration becomes a bigger success when guests go home with full and happy tummies.