Catered meals make any work meeting or team-building event feel more exciting, but costs can add up quickly. If you’re on a tight budget, there’s no need to skip the food—with these affordable catering ideas, you can order a delicious spread without breaking the bank.

1. Family-style pasta

Pasta is a great way to get the most from your catering budget, especially if you’re serving a large group. Noodles are cheap, and it’s easy to prepare dishes in bulk. Just make sure to include options without meat, lactose, and gluten. Consider offering both tomato-based and cream-based sauces, and add a delicious salad on the side for a fresh finish.

2. Build-your-own tacos

Accommodate a range of tastes and dietary limitations with a taco bar. The restaurant or caterer can prepare large dishes of rice, beans, and ground beef, along with all the classic toppings. Request lettuce and a mix of flour and corn tortillas so your employees can build a salad, a burrito, or a gluten-free taco.

3. Apps, not entrees

If your event is happening later in the day, skip the dinner service in favor of an appetizer selection. It’s a fun way for attendees to try a wide variety of foods; you can even include a few sweet treats in the mix. Without the restriction of a sit-down dinner, your guests will be more likely to mingle. Plus, if you opt for a buffet rather than passed apps, you can save money on serving staff.

4. Sandwich platters

For a casual daytime event, you can’t go wrong with sandwich platters. It’s a catering staple for a reason—sandwiches are budget-friendly, and you can get a variety of fillings to keep things interesting. Some restaurants will even offer gourmet options to give your gathering an elevated feeling. Make sure to request a few vegan and gluten-free options, and ask for clear labels that identify the ingredients. Round out the meal with a salad and cookies for a meal that’s both satisfying and delicious.

5. Soup and salad

Soup and salad is the perfect combination for a work event; it’s filling but not heavy, so employees can leave the meal feeling energized. In the winter, aim for heartier soups with meat or beans. Work with your caterer to come up with flavor-packed salads that incorporate nuts, fruits, and vegetables for a fresh yet hearty meal.

6. Charcuterie and cheese boards

Charcuterie and cheese boards feel upscale, but they usually cost less than a full meal. It’s all in the presentation; most caterers will create eye-catching boards by adding colorful fruits, a selection of crackers, crudites, and delicious dips. For a slightly more expensive option, you can also request individual charcuterie cones.

Tips for affordable catering

The menu is just one part of an affordable catering experience. There are a few things you can do to cut costs even further:

  • Keep portions in check. No one wants to leave a business lunch feeling overly full—especially when it’s followed by meetings or work sessions. Smaller portion sizes help guests feel satisfied but not stuffed.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. Choose a budget that makes sense for your organization, and make sure you are working with a catering technology partner that allows you to know what exactly you’ll pay when you build your cart and order.
  • Go heavy on plant-based foods. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are almost always more affordable than meat, particularly at dinner.

Whether you’re planning food for a small team meeting or a large company retreat, the right corporate ordering platform can help you cut costs. With Grubhub Corporate Accounts, you can choose from a variety of local restaurants to find the most affordable catering ideas for every professional event. Grubhub’s customizations, budget controls, and reporting features allows for cost effective food ordering. To explore the catering options in your area, get started today.