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How to cater for 100 guests on a budget

With the cost of living ever rising, many people are looking to save money where they can, and that includes on event catering services. If you’re asked to cater for a 100-guest event on a budget, how can you help the customer come in under budget? The team at Mobilers takes a look.

catering man pouring drinks for his customers

Whatever the time of year and location, being asked to cater for a 100-guest event can be great for business – provided you’ve got the appropriate insurance arranged. Working out the catering trailer insurance cost in the UK is easy if you contact Mobilers.

Having the right cover means you’ll be able to truly focus on making the event an unforgettable experience for every guest. And hopefully lead to yet more bookings!

5 ways mobile catering trailers could fit into a budget-friendly event

Whether it’s a birthday party, anniversary, wedding or any other big event, food is an essential part of how we celebrate and something people are happy to spend money on.

For example, according to an annual survey by wedding planning website Hitched, the average wedding catering cost of food in the UK is £3,887. That’s just over 12% of the average wedding budget.

However, just like when considering catering trailer insurance cost in the UK, that doesn’t mean people aren’t still looking for great value. And that’s where you, as a mobile caterer, can step in!

Offering tasty and unique dishes and excellent value for money, here are just five ways your mobile catering business could fit into any budget-conscious event plans.

1. Tasty bites at a drinks reception

If someone doesn’t quite have the cash to splash on catering, avoiding a formal three-course meal is a great option. Instead, they may opt for a more casual drinks reception with canapés, bowl food or food stations. The perfect set up for a mobile caterer to shine.

While guests will be able to mix, mingle and taste your delicious food, the organiser will be able to make substantial savings on the traditional sit-down dinner. Smiles all round.

Simple, hearty fare can fill stomachs without emptying wallets. Curries, noodle bowls, pasta and rice dishes can all provide a tasty treat that people love at a price that can’t be beaten.

2. Coffee and cake to bring people together

Many event organisers like to make hot drinks available during breaks in the proceedings or at the end of a formal meal. By having a mobile coffee business or Piaggio at the event they’ll be able to subtly move people out of the event space and save on costs.

After all, serving from somewhere already set up for providing hot drinks is going to be cheaper than paying for equipment and staffing costs.

Even if the organiser decides to entirely forego the traditional tea and coffee at the end of a meal, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity for you to shine. There’s always a time and a place for a hot drink and refreshment.

3. An uber-cool dessert station for all ages

Serving a plated dessert at the table is fine, but can be an entirely forgettable experience. But if someone wants to get more bang for their buck, then having guests get up and go to a dessert station is a great idea.

From a traditional ice cream van serving 99s to a Jiffy truck offering up a delicious selection of crepes, cakes and pastries, a mobile dessert station is finger-licking good! And a cost-effective option, too.

Not only will this offer guests more variety, but it can also be presented as a great opportunity for everyone to stand and chat while the tables are cleared away ready for the next stage of the event.

4. Cocktails and mocktails to get everyone talking

There are few things more likely to get people having a good time than a round of cocktails and mocktails. With so many people becoming more health conscious, many are choosing to drink a little less, but opting for higher quality, premium products that they can take their time over.

Less is definitely more when it comes to drinks in these cost-conscious times. And that’s where running a mobile bar can save the day!

5. The munchy main event

It’s not just all the little extras that can make or break an event, the main meal has got to be spot on, too. And with such a diverse range of foods offered by mobile caterers there’s bound to be something to suit any event theme.

Mobile catering vans are a great alternative to formal sit-down wedding receptions, especially if the couple are looking for a more informal, relaxed feel for their day.

An experienced mobile caterer is more than capable of dealing with feeding 100 guests on a budget. Mobile catering for events can be great for your business growth and for organisers looking to save.

Shop around to find the right catering trailer insurance cost in the UK for your circumstances.

Working out portion sizes – a handy guide

One of the most difficult tasks in mobile catering is working out how much food you’ll need for the number of guests and the type of event you’re serving at.

After all, you don’t want people to go home hungry, but you also don’t want to have mountains of leftover food either.

Before we get started on working out the portion sizes, here’s a couple of points to bear in mind when planning.

  • Get an accurate idea of how many guests you need to cater for. An exact figure is best, but a decent estimate is better than nothing! For example, are you catering for 50 guests or 100 guests?
  • A sit-down meal will tend to need more food than a canapé and drinks reception. It stands to reason that a wedding reception with canapés and a three-course meal will need more food than an informal gathering offering trays of bite-sized snacks.
  • If the event is planned during a mealtime, then expect to serve more food.
  • Provide quality food options for people with allergies or other food requirements. And make sure servers know exactly what’s in the food so they can answer any questions if asked.
  • What does the event organiser want served? They’ll probably know their guests far better than you, so will be able to give invaluable guidance on what will go down well. If it’s a wedding, perhaps there’s a specific theme that the food needs to follow?
  • Stock some extra portions if you’re worried about running out. A well-fed guest is a happy guest that might book you again in future! Make extra of some of your most budget-friendly side dishes or snacks to make sure there’s plenty for everyone.

So, how do you set about estimating food portions per person?

Let’s take a look with these five handy hints for answering this sometimes-tricky catering conundrum.

1. If you’re running a mobile bar at an event then estimate that each guest will have around 1 to 2 drinks per hour. Plan on each person having two drinks in the first hour and then one drink every hour after that. You’ll want a variety of drinks options on offer.

2. If you’re serving canapés before a main meal then each guest will eat roughly 3 to 4 every hour. If you’re serving canapes rather than a main meal then plan for each guest to have around 8 every hour.

3. For a sit-down meal, offer one portion of each food per person. Exact portion sizes of certain foods can easily be found out through an online search. Love Food Hate Waste has an excellent portion calculator tool. Simply enter the food and the number of guests and it will give you an estimate of how much you’ll need.

4. If you’re catering for a self-serve buffet then overestimate how much food you’ll need. Guests are likely to put more on their plate than if it was a sit-down meal.   

5. If you’re serving pudding after a main meal then count on one serving per guest. Although add on a bit extra in case anyone wants seconds. If the event is all about desserts, then plan on serving between 4 and 6 small dessert servings per person through the whole event.

Quick guide to food portions 


1 hour drinks reception          3-4 canapés per person          300-400 for 100 guests
2 hour drinks reception          6-8 canapés per person          600-800 for 100 guests           
Canapés instead of a starter  10 canapés per person           1,000 for 100 guests  
Canapés as the whole meal    12 canapés per person           1,200 for 100 guests  



After a main meal                   1 dessert per person               100 for 100 guests
Dessert-only event                 4-6 servings per person          400-600 for 100 guests

Top tips for cutting event costs

It’s not easy organising an event for 100 guests on a budget and sometimes you might be asked for ideas on how to bring costs down.

From portion control to minimising wastage, here are 15 top tips you could suggest for cutting catering costs into bite-sized pieces…

1. Choose a pocket-friendly event format. More laid-back catering such as barbeques, pizzas and hog roasts tend to cost less than a more formal meal.

2. Cut the courses. The more courses on offer, the more costs will stack up.

3. Save on staffing. Mobile caterers don’t tend to have large teams and this will help with costs. That said, nothing kills a party atmosphere than people waiting ages for their food because you’re understaffed. That said, taking on an apprentice can spread the workload.

4. Make it self-serve. Avoiding the cost of hiring a full serving staff will help with budgeting. Feeding 100 guests from your mobile catering trailer is a perfect option for a cost-conscious organiser.

5. Limit canapé choices. You’ll save money by selecting a maximum of three universally popular canapés such as goats cheese and caramelised onion tartlets, bruschetta and tempura prawns. A useful cost saver if you’re already providing a main meal. As well as saving money, it’ll also cut down on food waste and stop guests getting full up before the main event.

6. Use smaller plates. Serving food on smaller plates is a well-known hack for controlling portion sizes without looking mean.

In fact, well-presented smaller plates can often look more exclusive and appetising. This is particularly useful when it comes to higher value items on your menu.

7. Cut down on tableware. Mobile caterers are experts at serving up delicious looking food to be eaten on the hoof without a piece of expensive tableware in sight. Minimise spending by keeping things simple with disposable tableware.

8. Keep main dishes simple. As any chef knows, often the most delicious food can be made from the simplest of ingredients.

Where possible, swap expensive ingredients for cheaper alternatives. For example, rather than chicken breast or fillet steak, use chicken thighs or beef brisket – both delicious and full of flavour when slow cooked.

9. Stick to local and seasonally sourced ingredients. As well as reducing food spend it will also demonstrate your eco-credentials to environmentally focused consumers.

10. Suggest a vegan or vegetarian option. You don’t need us to tell you that adding fish and meat to dishes always ups the price.

If organisers are looking to cut costs, have some tasty vegetarian or vegan options that you could suggest. For the ultimate guide to vegan mobile catering read this handy Mobilers article.

11. Add refreshing spritzers or mocktails to the drinks menu. Another expensive item for any event organiser is alcohol.

Having fizzy water or lemonade available so people can have wine spritzers is a good way to limit alcohol consumption and results in less wine being served. We’ve also got some recipes for great tasting but alcohol-free mocktails for you to try out in our ultimate guide.

12. Offer deals on quieter times of the year. Catering prices are generally higher at peak times of the year such as spring and summer or on weekends. If you plan on doing business throughout the year, it might be worth offering deals during quieter times.

13. Cut down on food waste. How to cut food waste from your mobile catering business is an important question to keep in mind. Not only will it be better for the environment but it will also save on costs, that you can then pass on to the customer.

If you’re wondering about the catering trailer insurance cost in the UK, then give the Mobilers team a call.

14. Watch out for extras. Some event venues might charge for equipment being brought on site or setting up a power supply. Make sure you know exactly how your mobile catering trailer will fit into the organiser’s plans; you don’t want any nasty surprises on the day.

15. Cut the guest list. This is a big one, but certainly one of the easiest ways to cut costs quickly. But as a ‘nuclear option’ we’ve saved it until last. Hopefully you should be able to deliver without the organiser needing to do this.

Anything else?

When it comes to mobile catering, you’re the expert and it’s up to you to use your knowledge from past events to help deliver on budget. Really knowing your audience is one of your biggest tools when figuring out where to make savings.

Just as event organisers will ask for your advice on catering costs, so you’ll want our specialist knowledge on the catering trailer insurance cost in the UK.

Knowing exactly who to ask when it comes to catering trailer insurance costs is half the battle.

Budget options that deliver on taste

catering woman paying for a bulk buy of eggs

People adore good food but when money is an issue, sometimes people think they won’t be able to afford to deliver on taste. But they’d be wrong.

There are so many budget options to suit even the pickiest of eaters. Take a look at some of these frugal food suggestions.

Baked potatoes

Baked potato ovens are a super-tasty but inexpensive way to cater for a large group. And there are few cheaper and easier to prepare finger foods. Just be sure to have a variety of toppings to suit all tastes.

Soups, stews and chilis

Great for those cold winter months.

Noodles and rice

Mexican, Indian and Thai dishes are endlessly varied, delicious and affordable to make.

Waffles, crepes and pancakes

Batter is inexpensive to make and very versatile. Toppings can include everything from cheese and ham to ice cream and chocolate syrup. Yum!

Ice cream sandwiches

A giant batch of tasty cookies and some delicious ice cream can go a long way to satisfying that craving for something sweet after a long night of partying! It will be an even more perfect addition to a menu if you happen to start up an ice cream van business as well!

Don’t let budget concerns compromise safety

When it comes to mobile catering everyone will always want to make savings on price. But that doesn’t mean guest safety can be compromised.

At any event you attend with your mobile catering trailer there are risks you’ll need to be on the lookout for. But, don’t worry, there are also plenty of ways to manage these and keep guests safe at all times.

Food safety

A foodborne illness is the very last thing you want to happen as a mobile caterer. From incorrectly cooked or stored food to undisclosed allergens, ensuring food safety has to be a number one priority.


If you’re catering at a large event where alcohol is served then you’ll need to be particularly aware of the risks involved. From underage drinkers to guests who’ve had one too many, you need to have procedures in place on what to do.

Accidents and injuries

Professional kitchens can present a whole array of hazards to the unwary. From trips and slips to cuts and burns, a member of your staff or even a guest could be badly injured if you haven’t maintained safe working practices. Learn more about other common kitchen accidents and how to prevent them in a blog on our site.

As we always say, prevention is better than cure. But if something unexpected does happen you’ll want appropriate liability insurance in place. Consider this when working out your catering trailer insurance cost in the UK.

Insurance is never something you want to skimp on. Speak to the team at Mobilers to make sure you’re fully covered in all events and your business is protected.

Protect your event with the best value catering trailer insurance

Providing catering at any busy event comes with a fair number of risks to your catering trailer. Whether road accidents on the way there, damage incurred when setting up, or even problems during the event, you’ll need the right amount of cover for your mobile catering trailer.

The UK is one of the best places in the world to run a mobile catering business, and there are a wealth of opportunities out there for you to take advantage of.

Using our years of experience in the catering trailer insurance industry, the friendly team at Mobilers searches for cover that’s right for you and your business.

So, what are you waiting for? Call Mobilers and get a quick idea of catering trailer insurance cost in the UK today.

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