Healthy Catering Recommendations for Event Planners


Food is used to entice people to RSVP for events. While the idea of food at a meeting may help boost attendance rates, it is the types of offerings that that can be key predictors to how engaged your audience will be. Typically speaking, breakfast consists of coffee, juice, and some sort of dense carbohydrate food item to eat with our hands. Generally, we see white bread sandwiches and high-sugar, carbonated beverages at lunch events. Even evening socials will maintain an assortment of energy-dense offerings to compliment an adult beverage or two. Unfortunately, these are the foods making us lethargic and lowering attention spans.

The Food Innovation Center has had the privilege of hosting a number of events in which meals have been catered to its attendees. Through our mission statement and key initiatives, one can see that the promotion of healthy lifestyles, including healthy food choices and a better overall quality of life, are at the forefront of the FIC’s priorities. With the relationship between diet and health becoming overwhelmingly apparent, one in three Americans now plagued with obesity, and a strained healthcare system, we are committed to health by supporting healthy food and menu choices for your guests during your next event. Feeding a crowd has become an increasing burden now that nutritious and well balanced meals are in higher demand. Through these general guidelines, we will promote better overall health, reduce risk for chronic diseases, and assist those in need of meal planning.


Breakfast is the initial energy our body gets to start the day, so it is incredibly important to make it count. While pastries are great for our taste buds, they don’t offer much else. These high carbohydrate foods limit our ability to focus for long periods of time. When it comes to breakfast, protein must be a factor. The better the ratio of macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbs) incorporated into a dish, the more stable your blood sugar and attentiveness will stay until lunch.

  • Yogurt Parfaits – Low-fat, high protein yogurt with fresh fruit and either a whole wheat breakfast cereal or granola. Use seasonal fruit for the highest nutrient density and add a serving of walnuts in for even more brain fuel. A standard caterer has the ability to create these in individual servings, giving your guests a balanced dish instead of a carb overload. Parfaits are also wonderful because they keep food lines moving as they are a one-stop-shop for the whole meal.
  • Breakfast Wraps – A serving of eggs/egg-whites, a serving of green pepper, onions, and tomatoes, a low fat breakfast meat wrapped up in a whole-wheat tortilla can be eaten with one hand just like a doughnut, but with the nutrient value again incorporating a much higher level of protein that your body needs as you “break the fast” you’re coming off from not eating overnight. (Need a vegan offering? Peanut butter and banana wraps with dried apricots and raisins will do the trick for you).

Lunch and Dinner

Lunch and dinner should be refreshers for us, so they are great meals to load up on vegetables and lean protein. Vegetables have a very high satiety, so they should be incorporated wherever possible.

  • Hot Meal – Grilled Chicken (or any lean meat), grilled or roasted vegetables (asparagus, green beans, or mushrooms work well), a garden salad and a side of brown rice is an offering that few will be willing to pass up and will keep them going if meetings are still on the agenda.
  • Cold Meal – Event planners tend to gravitate towards either sandwiches or salads for cold meals. Both can be great options or terrible options depending on how they are supplemented.

    • Sandwiches – Whole-wheat bread or tortillas are a must. They contain the dietary fiber that we need. Providing low-fat cheese like mozzarella and the condiments on the side help keep the empty calories away from our meals. As I said earlier, we need to fit vegetables in anywhere we can, so toppings such as tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles should not be overlooked.
    • Salads – A mixture of vegetables can never be bad for you. However, the added ingredients such as high-fat cheese, full fat dressings, croutons and meat can increase the calories of your salad to sneaky high levels. Avoid the fat when possible.


Meet the Student

BillyBrownBilly Brown is a third year pursuing a degree Human Nutrition and Dietetics and works as a communications intern for the Food Innovation Center. Billy is avidly involved in the Ohio Union Activities Board and his fraternity, Chi Phi. Billy has an interest in pursuing a number of different avenues with his major including: PR and Marketing, Food Policy, Sports Dietetics, or NGOs.