3 minutes Inspiration

Making Ends Meet – March 2024

With Easter just around the corner, Paul Dickson shares some last-minute tips to make catering for special occasions run smoothly, with an eye on margins and efficiency. It can be easy to get carried away when planning for big events in the calendar, but with a few tweaks to your menu and a bit of clever planning, you can take some of the pressure off the busy service as well as your margin. Here are some simple ideas which can be applied to any lastminute Easter planning but work equally well all year round.

A Sweet Swap

Controlling your portions is of course a top priority throughout the year to keep on top of margins, particularly at a time when everything is being squeezed. A great no hassle way of doing this at busy times is through swapping some of your homemade desserts to ready prepared versions. Country Range frozen desserts are created especially for foodservice and are pre-portioned, so you clearly know the cost per portion, then it’s completely up to you how you wish to serve it. The variety in the range is huge, with something to suit all tastes and times of year. My top pick at the moment would be something like the Affogato Dessert, as it’s sophisticated in flavour and is gluten-free and suitable for vegans, so it ticks all the boxes.

Raise A Smile

Whether you’re catering for care residents or customers, it’s the little extras that make special events that bit more memorable. We often think to add a little something to our menus at Christmas, such as coffee and a mince pie as part of a set a meal, but there’s no reason to miss this step at other times of the year too. For Easter, for example, chocolate of course in all of its many forms would go down a treat, or why not add a bit of fun with these themed cupcakes? Easy to make and sure to raise a smile.

The Main Event

When it comes to the main course, the key here is not to feel like you need to include too many elements. The fewer trips to the plate you can do, the more efficient your service will be. It doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Simple, good quality ingredients, treated well, and being clever with your time will all turn into a winning menu and service. Take this Poached Cod in Creamy Dill Sauce for example. The vegetables and cod are poached in the oven together and the sauce is made in the same tray, so all that is left to add to the plate is the potato.

A Crusty Timesaver

Don’t overlook the classic pie when planning your menu. They can be made in advance, they’re a great way to avoid food waste and you can be as inventive as you like. How about a roast dinner in a pie for a bank holiday special? My Roast Chicken Pie even has a surprise stuffing ball in the middle!