How much does it cost to feed 40 people?

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Planning an event for 40 people can be both exciting and daunting, especially when it comes to catering. Whether it’s a birthday party, corporate meeting, wedding, or family gathering, getting the right food at the right price is crucial. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of events that might require catering for 40 people, appropriate food choices for these events, and a range of prices you might expect. We’ll also discuss ways to reduce costs if necessary. If you’re considering Cheltenham Caterers like Food Champs, these insights will help you plan effectively.

Types of Events That Might Need Catering for 40 People

Birthday Parties

Birthday parties, especially milestone celebrations, often call for catering. Whether it’s a 30th, 40th, or 50th birthday, providing delicious food ensures your guests have a great time.

Suggested Foods

  • Buffet: A variety of finger foods, sandwiches, salads, and desserts.
  • BBQ: Grilled meats, vegetables, and classic sides like coleslaw and potato salad.
  • Sit-Down Dinner: A three-course meal with a starter, main, and dessert.

Corporate Meetings

Corporate events such as team meetings, training sessions, or client gatherings can benefit from professional catering. Good food can enhance the atmosphere and keep participants focused and engaged.

Suggested Foods

  • Breakfast Buffet: Pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurt, and coffee.
  • Lunch Boxes: Sandwiches or wraps, chips, and a piece of fruit.
  • Afternoon Snacks: Cheese platters, crudités, and mini desserts.


Weddings are one of the most significant events that require careful catering planning. Whether it’s an intimate ceremony or a lavish reception, the right food can make the day unforgettable.

Suggested Foods

  • Canapés and Cocktails: Elegant bites and drinks for mingling.
  • Buffet Dinner: A mix of hot and cold dishes, salads, and desserts.
  • Plated Dinner: Gourmet dishes served to guests at their tables.

Family Gatherings

Family reunions, anniversaries, and holiday celebrations often need catering to simplify the planning and allow everyone to enjoy the event.

Suggested Foods

  • Buffet: Comfort foods like roasted meats, pasta dishes, and a selection of desserts.
  • Picnic Style: Sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit, and snacks.
  • Potluck: Guests bring a dish to share, supplemented by some catered items.

Appropriate Foods for Different Events and Their Costs


Buffets are versatile and can cater to various tastes and dietary needs. They are perfect for casual events like birthday parties or family gatherings.

Estimated Costs

  • £10-£20 per person: Basic buffet with sandwiches, salads, and simple desserts.
  • £20-£40 per person: More elaborate buffet with hot dishes, a wider variety of foods, and gourmet desserts.


BBQ catering is ideal for outdoor events and casual gatherings. It offers a relaxed atmosphere and a variety of grilled options.

Estimated Costs

  • £15-£25 per person: Basic BBQ with burgers, sausages, and a few sides.
  • £25-£50 per person: Gourmet BBQ with premium meats, seafood, and an extensive selection of sides and desserts.

Sit-Down Dinners

Sit-down dinners are perfect for formal events like weddings and corporate dinners. They offer a structured meal with courses served to guests.

Estimated Costs

  • £25-£50 per person: A three-course meal with a choice of main dishes.
  • £50-£100+ per person: Gourmet options with premium ingredients and multiple courses.

Boxed Meals

Boxed meals are convenient for corporate events or any gathering where a quick, individual meal is needed. They are easy to distribute and can be customised.

Estimated Costs

  • £10-£15 per person: Simple sandwich or wrap, chips, and a piece of fruit.
  • £15-£25 per person: More elaborate boxed meals with gourmet sandwiches, side salads, and dessert.

Ways to Reduce Catering Costs

DIY Options

One of the most effective ways to cut costs is by doing some of the catering yourself. You could prepare simple appetisers or desserts and leave the main courses to the professionals.

Simplify the Menu

Reducing the number of items on your menu can significantly lower costs. Focus on a few crowd-pleasers rather than offering an extensive selection.

Choose Affordable Ingredients

Opt for dishes that use affordable ingredients. Pasta, rice, and seasonal vegetables can be both delicious and budget-friendly.

Buffet Style

Buffet-style catering is generally cheaper than plated meals because it requires fewer staff and allows guests to serve themselves. This option can also reduce food waste as guests take only what they want.

Negotiate with Caterers

Don’t be afraid to discuss your budget with caterers. Many are willing to work with you to create a menu that fits your financial constraints. For those in Cheltenham, considering local caterers like Cheltenham Caterers might also offer more flexibility and understanding of your needs.

Limit Alcohol

If you’re serving alcohol, consider limiting the types of drinks available or offering a cash bar. Alcohol can significantly increase your catering costs, so finding ways to manage it can save a lot.


Feeding 40 people doesn’t have to be a financial strain. By understanding the types of events that might require catering, selecting appropriate and cost-effective foods, and employing strategies to reduce costs, you can ensure your event is both enjoyable and affordable. Whether it’s a birthday party, corporate meeting, wedding, or family gathering, planning your catering with these tips in mind will help you stay within budget while providing a delightful experience for your guests. If you’re in the Cheltenham area, considering options like Cheltenham Caterers such as Food Champs can offer tailored solutions to meet your specific needs and preferences. Happy planning!

If you’re looking for mouth-watering, guest-exciting food for your wedding/event, look no further than Food Champs. Our catering services in [location] are the best you’ll find. Don’t believe us? Just check out our dozens of five-star reviews! We also serve [cities]. Call [xfield_phone] to discuss your requirements, or fill in our enquiry form.


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