Meeting Well: Working with the Caterer

Posted: April 13, 2016

If your meeting or conference is scheduled to last for a full day or more than one day, you probably will work with a caterer or a hotel chef to plan meals and snacks. It is likely that there are pre-set menus from which to choose from. Although you can suggest alternatives, it is possible there may be a fee for these requests. To avoid additional fees, work with what they have but discuss ways to have healthy options available throughout the meeting. Be certain to stress that you do not want to have the same foods served to the participants over and over again. (After all, you can only eat so much chicken!)

Consider these requests as you meet with caterers and chefs:

•    Ask that fruits and vegetables be served with every meal and break (if you do decide to have food at breaks).

•    Ask that whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, and pasta be used whenever possible.
•    Ask for smaller portion sizes of foods like bagels and muffins.
•    Ask that fresh fruit always be available as a dessert option.
•    Ask that other desserts be garnished with fresh fruit (i.e. berries) and that they be in smaller portions.
•    Ask that sauces for vegetables, grains, and meats always be served on the side.
•    Ask that high-fat salad ingredients – dressings, cheese, croutons, bacon bits—be served on the side.
•    Ask for calories to be reduced in their menu by using lower fat ingredients, adding less sugar, and preparing foods using lower-fat cooking methods (baked, grilled, broiled instead of frying). Also ask that herbs and spices are used for flavor and less calories instead of heavy cream or butter.


Source: American Cancer Society; Penn State Extension’s Meeting Well initiative