The 10 Best Party Food Caterers Near Me (with Free Estimates) (2023)

Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do you find a good caterer?

Reviews, interviews and menu tastings will help you find the right catering choice for your big day. Start by screening possible wedding caterers based on past reviews. If a caterer you are interested in has a review that concerns you, ask them about it; how they respond will be very telling. Next, ask about their availability for your wedding date.

If the wedding caterer is available on your date, it’s time to talk about menus and prices. Be clear about what your maximum budget is find out what choices this will allow you. Caterers may custom-create a menu for your event, or they may have menu templates within different price ranges that can guide your decision. A clear budget gives the caterer clear parameters within which to work and offer creative suggestions. Schedule a menu tasting to confirm you love your wedding menu. Once you have a menu and date, and have paid a deposit to reserve the caterer’s services, confirm additional details including when the food will be delivered to the site, what kind of service will be provided, how many servers will be onsite and for how long, and who is responsible for setup and cleanup. The more specific your contract, the fewer worries you’ll have on your wedding day. Get more smart hiring tips here.

How much does it cost to hire a caterer?

Catering prices depend mainly on how fancy you want the food and service to be and how many guests you’ll have. When you’re first looking to hire a caterer for your event, consider how many guests you’ll have and your total food and drink budget. The national average for event catering is $340, but catering prices can range into the thousands depending on your menu, guest count, and service.

Event catering is a broad term that covers everything from fully prepared, ready-to-eat food that the hosts plate and serve themselves to full-service, multicourse meals, including rental of linens, glassware and other items, with service staff organized by the catering company. Usually a caterer will determine cost based on the type of event you’re having, how many guests will attend, the level of service you desire, and what type of menu you’d like to have. For example, if you have a set catering budget, say $1,500, and you plan to have 50 people attend, that means you have $30 per person for food. If you have the same budget with 100 people, you have $15 per person for food. In this way, the number of people you want to attend your event and the level of food you want to serve them determines how much catering will cost.

(Video) Catering Services, buffet set up & Menu, plating

How much should catering cost per person?

Catering prices can range from about $10 per guest on the low end to $150 or more per person on the high end. Catering costs represent the quality of food, presentation, variety, ingredients and service. But catering prices are more than the cost to cook the food that will be at your party; they also include the cost for the company to do business. Here is a simple breakdown of catering prices:

  • Menu: The food you serve your guests will directly affect the price per person. Organic ingredients, complex recipes, elaborate presentations, or high-ticket items like lobster or filet mignon all add to the cost.
  • Service: Buffet, family style, plated dinners — how you serve the food affects the cost per person. For example, a true plated meal can cost about twice the price of a staff-assisted buffet because of staffing costs. Hiring waiters, bartenders and cleanup crew will all be calculated into the per-person catering price.
  • Drinks: Providing beverages and alcoholic drinks for guests greatly increases your catering budget. Hosting an open bar can cost as much per person as the meal.
  • Rentals: Seating, plates, glassware, etc., will all have an effect on the cost per person for catering. For example, a plastic conference table that seats 10 costs about $6 to rent on average, while a wooden farmhouse table is about $80 to rent on average.
  • Business costs: Any catering cost will also include the cost for the company to do business such as insurance, employee wages, commercial kitchen space and more.

How much does wedding catering cost per person?

Wedding catering costs will always vary based on the number of guests you’re inviting, the menu you want to serve, and the way the food will be served to your guests. As you interview wedding catering companies, you’ll be presented with a cost per person for various menus. On the low end, wedding catering may cost approximately $15-$18 per person. This would include prepared food only, with no setup or service of any kind. The starting price for a simple buffet meal with minimal service typically averages $22 per person. Opting for the same menu with all organic ingredients could raise your costs to about $33 per person. A moderately upscale menu (finer ingredients, more elaborate presentation) could range from $24 to $34 per person. High-end wedding catering cost truly has no limit. Lobster, filet mignon, specialty seafood, organic ingredients — menu choices like these can boost your cost per person up to $150 and more.

What should you look for in a caterer?

A delicious meal is a critical element of a successful wedding, with happy guests fondly remembering your fabulous wedding food. The right caterer for you will be:

  • Available: Even the best caterer is no good if they aren’t available on your wedding date. Ask early before you get your heart set on someone.
  • Affordable for you: Find a caterer that you can afford. Having a spending plan ahead of time will mean you won’t overspend on food.
  • A good personality fit: Wedding planning is stressful, so work with someone that you can get along with and communicate with easily.
  • Experienced and recommended: Ensure the company has a proven track record with events of your size and the references to back it up.
  • Transparent about money: Steer clear of shady pricing. Find a caterer who is very clear about costs and is happy to talk you through budgets and pricing options.
  • Transparent about food: Find someone who is clear about where they source their food from and where it is prepared.
(Video) 9 Mind-Blowing Food Party Rings

How much should catering cost for a wedding?

The cost of wedding catering will reflect the level of service, the menu you choose, the luxury you desire and the number of guests you invite. Where you live also plays a major role in your wedding catering costs. The regional cost to do business and local cost of food will affect your catering bill. There is no set price for wedding catering, because each wedding and each menu is different. This is why many caterers provide a per-person price. This allows you to break down what it costs to feed each person based on the menu you want. Working with your caterer, you can adjust menu items, service level and more to accommodate your budget and guest count. Keep in mind that wedding catering costs are not just for the food. The bill reflects all the components that go into commercial food catering: a commercial kitchen, ingredients, staff, insurance, marketing and more. Here are some examples of average costs:

  • Three-course plated meal, moderately upscale, for 125 in Los Angeles: $14,000. Because of staffing costs, a true plated meal costs about twice as much as a staff-assisted buffet.
  • Buffet meal, standard menu, for 100 in Los Angeles: $5,000.
  • Per-person cost for hors d'oeuvres, dinner and nonalcoholic beverages: $24–$37, depending on menu selection, in Southern California.
  • Drop off prepared food for 50: $1,000 in North Carolina. Price does not include any service, setup or breakdown.

How do you serve food at a wedding?

Food service at your wedding will affect your catering costs and influence the atmosphere of the reception. Buffet style is more informal; plated meals are a bit fancier; family style encourages sharing. Read about the different food service styles to select your preferred wedding catering choice.

  • Buffet: Caterers can drop off prepared foods for a DIY and budget-friendly buffet option where you set everything up and food is entirely self-service. For a fuller-service buffet, the caterers set up food, oversee the buffet throughout the event, and clean up afterwards. For food only, prices per person might average $16-$18, while a service buffet may start around $20-$22 per person. Adding food stations can increase per-person costs by at least $3-$5.
  • Family style: Servers bring large platters of food to guest tables in courses. It’s less formal (and less expensive) than a plated meal, but more formal and higher-cost than a buffet. You’ll need large tables to accommodate the platters, so plan accordingly when renting furniture for the event.
  • Plated: A plated event is a formal dining experience; waitstaff serve your seated guests for each course, fill their drinks, and attend to them throughout the dinner. A plated dinner is typically the most expensive option for both food and service.
  • Food trucks: Similar to buffets, with food trucks your guests get their own food and bring it to their table. A food truck gives a relaxed and playful vibe to your reception.
  • Cocktail reception: If you don’t want a formal seated dinner, you can opt for a wide assortment of passed appetizers at an extended cocktail hour reception.
(Video) Catering Atlanta - Call (404) 586-4418 for a FREE Catering Estimate!

Do you tip a wedding caterer?

Tipping 15 percent to 20 percent on a $3,000 catering bill can feel daunting — especially in light of all the other costs of throwing a wedding — but tipping your wedding caterer is standard practice. Be sure to ask your caterer about their specific policies. Many catering companies include gratuity as a line item on their bill. If tipping is not automatically included in your total, a good approach is to tip all the people involved the day of the event rather than paying one lump sum to the catering company. For each server and bartender, you can tip $20-$50, depending on how long they were onsite and whether they did exceptional work. You can also tip the chef; experts suggest $50. It’s also a good idea to tip the catering manager, the point-of-contact person who keeps the catering service running smoothly the day of your wedding, ensures all the food looks beautiful and is plentiful, and resolves any mishaps. Industry pros recommend tipping the catering manager $100-$200. If gratuity is not included and you’re tipping individuals, set aside $200-$500 in cash to be safe.

Reviews for Ashburn party food caterers

Sree M.

A&D catering were absolutely amazing! They were really responsive right from the time we connected. They were quick to send the menu, negotiate a reasonable price and were on top of coordinating the event. They showed up on time fully prepared. They set the table with amazing decoration, were completely involved in the serving and taking care of my guests. The food was equally amazing! High quality, tasteful and made by a professional chef. Like Alejandro said, they want their customers to have a great experience not just good food. I would love to hire A&A for my future parties! Thank you A&A for an amazing event!

The 10 Best Party Food Caterers Near Me (with Free Estimates) (1)A&A Catering DMV

Ready to find a pro?

See more reviews, compare prices, and hire your favorite pros all with Thumbtack.

(Video) How to calculate food portions for catering orders


What food is the cheapest to cater? ›

1. The cheapest food to cater is any rice or noodle-based cultural cuisine. Mexican, Indian, and Thai dishes are delicious and affordable. Or, if you're hosting an event during the day, serve brunch and breakfast items.

How do you calculate cost per person in catering? ›

How Do You Calculate Food Cost per Person? First, cost out how much your ingredients are going to be and find out how many guests are attending. Divide the total ingredient costs by the number of guests.

How much does it cost to cater for 50 UK? ›

How much does Catering for 50 Guests Cost? Of course, the costs do depend on the style of catering you are looking for. With buffets, when you take into account starters and mains, you could look at anything between £6 and £45 per head, translating to around £300 – £1,350 for 50 guests.

How can I feed a large crowd for cheap? ›

20+ Inexpensive, Easy Meals for Large Groups
  1. Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches.
  2. Hearty Baked Penne Pasta.
  3. Tasty Taco Bar.
  4. Crockpot Breakfast Casserole with Bacon and Gruyere.
  5. Killer Carnitas.
  6. Chicken Spaghetti.
  7. Easy Ham and Cheese Sliders.
  8. Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos.
7 Nov 2022

How much food do you need for 50 guests? ›

The easiest rule is the “One Pound Rule.” Provide one pound of food for each adult guest (not including drinks or dessert).

How do you calculate food cost for an event? ›

The total catering costs are calculated by multiplying the price of food per plate by the total number of guests you are expecting at your event. You can also determine the cost of food by calculating the amount of each type of dish you plan to serve your guests if the style you plan to use is buffet.

How do you estimate food for an event? ›

The first (and easiest) step is to simply count how many people are attending your event and multiply that by your serving size. For example, if you have 300 guests coming and you plan on serving each guest 1 chicken breast and 1 baked potato, you would need 300 chicken breasts and 300 potatoes. Simple enough, right?

How do you figure out food cost? ›

Food cost percentage is calculated by taking the cost of goods sold and dividing that by the revenue or sales generated from that finished dish. The cost of goods sold is the amount of money you've spent on ingredients and inventory in a given period – we'll show you how to calculate that, too.

How much does it cost to feed 100 people? ›

For 100 employees, you're looking at spending somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000 total. Private events like birthdays and anniversaries are generally smaller affairs. For less than 50 guests, it may not be worth spending the average minimum many catering companies require.

How much does it cost to feed a party of 40? ›

Event Catering Prices by Party Size and Type of Caterer
Number of PeopleDropoff CateringFood Trucks (carts for under 50)
20 people$240$320
30 people$360$480
40 people$480$640
50 people$600$800
5 more rows
17 Jan 2022

How much food do you need for 50 60 people? ›

Most experts agree that for a party of 60 guests you should provide each guest with at least 1 lb. of food. This is a good rule of thumb as some guests will only nibble as others will take much more than 1 lb. You should also take beverages into account--approximately two beverages per person, or 120 beverages.

What is the cheapest food to serve at a party? ›

Here are some simple party food ideas on a budget:
  • Soup.
  • Loose meat sandwiches.
  • Baked potatoes.
  • Pasta.
  • Tacos.
  • Make-your-own-pizzas.
  • Cheese and crackers.
  • Vegetables and dip.
6 Aug 2019

What food will feed a lot of people? ›

52 Big-Batch Dishes to Feed a Crowd
  • White Pesto Spinach Lasagna (10 servings) ...
  • Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas (10 servings) ...
  • Baked Sausage and Cheese Rigatoni (8 servings) ...
  • Caramelized Shiitake Mushroom Risotto (8 servings) ...
  • Korean Beef Tacos (12 servings) ...
  • Healthy Instant Pot Turkey Chili (8 servings)
19 Oct 2022

What can feed 100 people? ›

Serving 100 people? How much food?
  • 2 gallons Applesauce.
  • 3 gallons String beans.
  • 2 gallons Baked beans.
  • 24 pounds Beets (cooked)
  • 2 pounds Butter.
  • 12 Loaves of bread (1 pound loaves)
  • 10 pounds Coleslaw cabbage.
  • 30 pounds Carrots (cooked)

How many different appetizers should be served at a party? ›

Caterers often plan a minimum of 4 different choices for groups of 25-100 or more, adding an additional choice for each 25 people. A good rule of thumb for a dinner party, allow for 6 appetizers per person. For a cocktail party consider making 12 appetizers per person.

How many sandwiches do you need for 50 guests? ›

As a general rule, ordering 1.5 sandwiches per person is the perfect number.

How do you estimate party guests? ›

For local guests, plan for 85% of invitees attending. Don't forget to add spouses and children if they are invited! For out-of-town guests, plan on 55% of them attending. However, if most of them are close family who may go the distance to make it, your estimate could be higher—as high as 85%.

What is the average budget for an event? ›

Average Event Costs
12 more rows

How do you calculate cost per person for a buffet? ›

Divide the total cost of your buffet by the number of covers (paying guests). This will yield the average cost per guest so that you can be sure you are pricing intelligently.

How many trays of food do I need for 25 people? ›

Indeed, as it is possible to serve dishes that can cater to between 25 – 40 people. In most cases, a catering tray will measure 12-inches by 10-inches. Clearly, you can use 2 half trays to feed a large crowd with the same amount as a full tray.

How much food do you need for 150 guests? ›

If there's going to be a main meal served at an event and the event itself is going to be two hours long, then you multiply 150 by 6. This means you'd need to serve at least 900 appetisers in total. If an event lasts two hours but it doesn't involve guests being served a main meal, you multiply 150 by 12.

How many servers do you need for 100 guests buffet? ›

A very general rule of thumb is 1 server for every 25 guests, but here are some more specific guidelines to help you determine how many servers you will need: 1 Bartender for every 50 guests. For seated dinners, 1 server for every 2 tables. For a buffet, 1 server for every 40 guests.

What is standard food cost? ›

Food cost is the ratio of a restaurant's cost of ingredients (food inventory) and the revenue that those ingredients generate when the menu items are sold (food sales). Food cost is almost always expressed as a percentage known as food cost percentage, which we'll cover further below.

What is a good food cost? ›

What is a good food cost percentage? Most restaurants across the industry aim for a food cost percentage between 28 and 35%. That said, every restaurant is unique — a lower food cost percentage may still drive profits for a quick-serve restaurant, or a restaurant located in a small town.

What does a Q mean on a menu? ›

aq (not comparable) as quoted (used on a menu to indicate that the price is not listed because it varies depending on the composition of a dish (as in a charcuterie or cheese platter) or because it is particularly high)

How much does it cost to feed 1 person per day? ›

Average Food Expenditures by Product

In the United States, the monthly cost of feeding one person is about $342.11. The average cost of food per day per person is $11.04.

How much does it cost to eat per person? ›

The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300, depending on age. However, these national averages vary based on where you live and the quality of your food purchases. Here's a monthly grocery budget for the average family.

What is the cheapest way to throw a party? ›

How to Throw a Birthday Party on a Budget
  • Keep your guest list small. ...
  • Make your own invitations. ...
  • Use free printables to decorate. ...
  • Pick a theme you already have decorations for. ...
  • Have the party at your house. ...
  • Don't party at meal time. ...
  • Make or decorate your own cake. ...
  • Use the dollar store for party supplies.
26 Aug 2021

How much does the average person spend on a party? ›

Average American will spend $196.77 per party — calculated by alcohol ($67.08), food ($71.20), and decorations ($58.49) 7.23 parties/year at $196.77/party = $1,422.65 on parties yearly.

How many plates do I need for a party of 40? ›

Forty plates for 40 people, right? Not so much. Since some will be going back for seconds and even thirds (that new burger seasoning will definitely be a hit), you should be prepared with about three disposable plates per person.

When should you serve food at a party? ›

If you're hosting a party over the dinner hour – say anytime between 6:00 and 9:00 PM, you really should serve either dinner or heavy hors d'oeuvres. Anything in the happy hour time – 3:00 to 6:00 PM allows you to get away with offering light hors d'oeuvres.


1. Affordable Catering Tacoma Wa|253-446-8859|Need catering services on a tight budget?
(Best Chocolate Candies)
2. Catering Costs
(BK Teach)
3. How To Price Catering Jobs As A Personal Chef
(Chef Shelley)
4. How to Prepare for Catering a Party
5. WEDDING BUDGET BREAKDOWN | Cost of Portugal Destination Wedding Florals, Venue, Catering, etc.
(Renata D’Agrella)
6. OMLY - Online Catering Services
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ray Christiansen

Last Updated: 12/23/2022

Views: 5864

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ray Christiansen

Birthday: 1998-05-04

Address: Apt. 814 34339 Sauer Islands, Hirtheville, GA 02446-8771

Phone: +337636892828

Job: Lead Hospitality Designer

Hobby: Urban exploration, Tai chi, Lockpicking, Fashion, Gunsmithing, Pottery, Geocaching

Introduction: My name is Ray Christiansen, I am a fair, good, cute, gentle, vast, glamorous, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.