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The Ultimate Catering Supplies Checklist

When it comes to catering events offsite, preparation is key. One of the most important steps in ensuring a successful event is making a checklist of all essential catering supplies. This will help you to...

When it comes to catering events offsite, preparation is key. One of the most important steps in ensuring a successful event is making a checklist of all essential catering supplies. This will help you to be fully prepared when you reach the venue. Whether you're a seasoned caterer or just getting started in the business, our checklist provides a good introduction to the items you'll need for a full-scale, off-site event.

Stack of plates Stack of plates

Catering Essentials for a Successful Event

If you need a refresher on the most important catering supplies and equipment, check out our list of catering essentials. For an off-site event, you'll need to transport all the required items, unload them, and then clean up after the event is over. Setting up and tearing down an event can be quite a production, which is why it's good to work with an organized checklist.

Table Settings

The style of the event will dictate the types of items you’ll need for table settings. Upscale weddings and events require more items to complete a table setting, including cloth napkins, charger plates, and stemware. A simple picnic or barbecue may only require dinner plates, water glasses, and flatware.

  • Tablecloths
  • Napkins
  • Dinnerware
  • Flatware
  • Charger Plates
  • Glassware
  • Salt and Pepper Shakers
  • Water Pitchers
  • Bread Baskets

Food display Food display

Display and Decor

By providing some simple decor rental items to your clients, you can increase the total balance of the event invoice. Many customers would much rather pay your catering company to rent simple items like vases and table numbers than seek out a separate rental company. Don’t forget display risers and display stands that allow you to highlight your dishes and take advantage of vertical space on your food tables.

  • Risers
  • Cakestands
  • Cupcake Towers
  • Candleholders and Candles
  • Centerpieces
  • Vases
  • Table Numbers
  • Chalkboard Signs

Disposable Catering Supplies

Incorporating disposable catering supplies can be cost-effective and convenient for your clients. Using porcelain dinnerware and traditional glassware requires you to reload the soiled dishes back on the truck, and you’ll most likely have to charge a dishwashing fee. With disposable cutlery, plates, and drinkware, you can spare your clients the fee, eliminate the risk of broken dishes, and cut down on cleaning time.

  • Plastic Cutlery
  • Paper Napkins
  • Plastic Drinkware
  • Appetizer Plates
  • Cocktail Picks
  • Foil Pans
  • Aluminum Foil

Food pan carrier Food pan carrier

Transport Supplies

You need catering transport supplies to get your prepared meals off-site without losing temperature. This is why insulated food pan carriers are a caterer’s best friend. They can be loaded with food pans of various sizes and used to keep food hot or cold. Use outdoor coolers to haul drinks and ice. For dry ingredients, use food storage boxes and totes.

  • Insulated Food Pan Carriers
  • Glass Racks
  • Outdoor Coolers
  • Food Storage Boxes, Lugs, and Totes
  • Rolling Carts / Dollies

Cooking and Holding Equipment

If you plan to set up chef action stations for your event, you’ll need to bring the required equipment and cookware. Induction cookers are a great choice for crepe, omelet, or stir-fry stations because they’re compact, portable, and put off no ambient heat. For outdoor catering events, set up grill stations with portable outdoor grills.

  • Induction Cookers
  • Portable Grills
  • Outdoor Burners
  • Holding Cabinets

Server with champagne Server with champagne

Serving Equipment

You’ve spent a lot of time planning your event, but you can’t always be there in person to handle every detail. Set up your staff for success by providing everything they need to put your vision into place. Lighters are sometimes an afterthought, but they’re crucial to getting your chafers set up with fuel. Extra uniforms and aprons ensure that every member of your staff looks clean and presentable.

  • Serving Trays
  • Tray Stands
  • Chafers
  • Chafer Fuel
  • Serving Utensils
  • Lighters / Matches
  • Food Pans
  • Server Aprons and Uniforms

Beverage Supplies

Using insulated beverage dispensers allows you to transport hot and cold beverages off-site and maintain a constant temperature for serving. If you’re setting up a coffee station and you want something more elegant, coffee chafer urns are attractive and functional. Don’t forget to bring plenty of ice because you can usually use more than your initial estimate.

  • Ice
  • Beverage dispensers
  • Coffee Chafer Urns
  • Coffee Airpots

Outdoor tables and chairs Outdoor tables and chairs

Furniture and Seating

You can make your catering business a one-stop shop by offering table and seating rentals to your clients. It gives your customers peace of mind to know their event is being handled by one company instead of shopping around for individual rentals. You’ll also need display tables for your food stations, as well as canopies or tents for outdoor catered events.

  • Canopies / Tents
  • Folding Tables
  • Folding Chairs
  • Benches
  • Cocktail Tables
  • Bars

Janitorial / Cleaning Supplies

You’ll most likely be in charge of all trash removal for your off-site events, so bring the required garbage cans, recycling cans, and liners. Don’t forget to consider portable handwashing stations for locations without sinks or water hookups.

  • Garbage Cans
  • Handwashing Stations
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Cleaning Towels
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Bus Bins

Use our catering checklist to account for all the items you need to set up an off-site event. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the venue and realizing you’ve left something important behind. Follow our guidelines to make sure every item arrives safely at your destination so you can keep the focus on your food and service.