Balancing Your Event Menu

We have all been to events and/or parties where there was too little variety or a lack of balance with the food choices on the menu. Maybe the host served only veggies…or no veggies.

Whenever you bring a group together, regardless of size, each person attending your event has at least slightly different menu preferences.

Offering a balanced menu goes a long way towards making sure every guest is satisfied. It also turns out that creating a balanced menu is not complicated, and it helps make your event even more successful.

In general, a balanced menu offers dishes with a variety of proteins, vegetables, fruits, breads, and desserts. You may also consider preparing food in various ways; offering grilled, roasted, poached or fried items provides different options for your guests.

Cold buffet display with an assortment

Here are a few tips and strategies for creating a balanced menu for your events:

1) Learn details about who is attending your event

Perhaps you are hosting an event for a specific demographic. In this situation, you may find certain groups have “common” menu preferences – although you should never completely generalize, of course.

For example:

  • Older groups of attendees may prefer a milder menu.
  • Attendees concerned about health may prefer more seafood and vegetable options.
  • Younger or middle-aged attendees may prefer spicier, more adventurous meals.


2) Provide an assortment for each menu option

Having different choices should help ensure each guest finds something he or she enjoys.

For example:

  • Offer at least 3 entrees (1 meat, 1 poultry, and 1 vegetarian)
  • Serve various sides (vegetables and/or fruits, salad(s), healthy grains, less-than-healthy “comfort” foods)
  • Provide at least 2 dessert choices (1 decadent, 1 “healthy”)

3) Consider creating a balanced menu with contrasts

Add balance to your menu by choosing foods with variant tastes, temperatures and textures.

For example:

  • Offer hot kebabs alongside room-temperature dips
  • Set cheese straws next to low-fat poached shrimp
  • Place spicy quesadillas beside a delicate crab salad

Source: Food & Wine

4) Provide menu alternatives which accommodate special dietary needs

We covered the topic of how event planners can work with caterers to accommodate special dietary needs in one of our recent posts from January, 2015. Providing menu items for those attendees who have food restrictions helps make them feel appreciated and safe.

Consider the following special dietary needs and restrictions when creating a balanced menu for your event:

  • Food allergies
  • Lactose-intolerance
  • Gluten sensitivity
  • Religion and/or ethnicity


5) Customize your menu with seasonal and/or geographical options

Here in Portland, we are lucky to have an abundance of fresh, locally-sourced foods and ingredients. This makes creating a balanced menu a breeze compared to some places.

However, regardless of where you live, you can still create a balanced menu which is sure to please your guests. You can do this by preparing various recipes made from ingredients which are in season, or by serving assorted dishes which are popular in your geographical area.


Are you planning an event in the Portland-Metro area? We would love to help you with any of your catering needs. Please contact us online or give us a call at (503) 222-4553 anytime.


Photo Credit: frankrizzo805 via Compfight cc