I love buffet-style dinners and parties. You know why? Because, it gives me freedom to choose. And it’s a crowd-pleaser, too! I often think about the buffet we had for our wedding reception. It was a colourful, Italian one with many options for vegetarians. Our guests picked whatever they liked from the buffet and there was no need for wait staff. It was a breeze and many of our guests complimented on the choice of food during the night.
I even prefer open-buffet style dining when I’m on holiday! During our around the world trip, we stayed at this beautiful resort hotel in Cancun, Mexico (Fiesta Americana) and they had one of the best salad buffets I have ever seen. A total triumph!
Food Ideas for a Buffet-Style Party
One thing you need to remember while deciding on what to serve at a buffet-style party is the fact that your guests will have one plate and one fork. So, everything needs to be in certain shape and size. You need to make it easy for your guests to pick up food and move it onto their plates and easily eat it with their fork. Here some food ideas to create that:
Dips and Spreads
Dips and spreads served with crackers, crisps and crudités are excellent party foods. They can be prepared ahead. Just make sure that the dips are not runny. Here’s some examples from VegFusion:
Party Skewers made with olives, cubed cheese, sun dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pickled gherkins, capsicum, cucumber, fresh herbs, fresh fruits like watermelon or grapes, pickles, tofu, tempeh, vegetarian deli slices, cherry bocconcini are all good candidates for skewering.
Food Ideas: More Filling Options
Mini Pies or Pasties
Mini Sandwiches (avoid fillings like tomato slices as they make bread soggy)
Salad Food Ideas
Salads of cooked vegetables, pasta, legumes or grains are ideal food ideas for a buffet-style party. So are fresh salads. Here’s some examples from VegFusion:
Lentil Salad, Deli Style
Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Capsicum and Avocado
Tabouleh, VegFusion Style
New Potato and Brown Lentil Salad with Fresh Lemon Thyme
Cannellini Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes
Herby Tomato Medley Salad with Smoked Almonds
Israeli Chopped Vegetable Salad
Desserts and Fruit Platters
Whether you choose to serve dessert or cheese platter with fresh fruits, they should be served last and separately. Do not serve them at the same time as everything else. When it comes to options, keep it simple and easy to eat. Anything individually cut or packaged would be good. Even something your guests can eat with a dessert spoon, fork or simply with their hands.
Always provide a few different types of bread and crackers without forgetting gluten-free options. Here’s a list of possible accompaniments according to your entire menu for the party:
• Corn chips if you’re serving any Mexican dips
• Crudités (carrots, cucumbers and celery sticks)
And how much food?
As people mingle during a party, conversation takes over eating and drinking. So, the consumption declines. Still, it is better left with extra food than not enough, right? Here are some guidelines to help to estimate how much food to serve:
• 10 portions of food for 15 guests
• 15 portions of food for 20 guests
• 20 portions of food for 25 guests
Does that help?
You will need to supply cutlery, glasses, napkins, etc. The cheapest way of doing it is to try and get everything from a 2$ shop. They usually carry pretty much everything you need for a party from toothpicks to disposable plates. Please choose recyclable, biodegradable ones. Everything else you cannot get from these places, try restaurant/kitchen supply shops. Although you will not get a restaurant owner’s discount or wholesale prices, those shops have huge stock that will make your life easier.