At times like these, it pays to freeze.
With inflation in flux and the economic temperature all over the place, there is one way to lock in your event catering quotes and deliver on budget… by stocking up on frozen protein.
If you look back to the last global recession (2008 - 2012), the internet is filled with articles on the cost benefits of using frozen foods to lock in the freshness and price. Now, here we are again, so we decided to return to this chilly conversation as some caterers still run a little hot and cold with their frozen phobia.
Even ten years ago, research from the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) was showing that 97% of chefs were stocking and using frozen food regularly. "Frozen ingredients provide significant benefits to the caterer and can provide year-round availability of seasonal ingredients at a steady price," Brian Young, BFFF director general, said at the time.1
First of all, you get to lock in the value. Buying your core ingredients - like your proteins - from the freezer and putting them on ice means you have the line item locked in and won’t be exposed to sudden fluctuations due to supply chain issues or inflation bumps.
If you have supply chain uncertainty, frozen protein lets you stock up on a solid supply of quality product in the chiller, so you don’t have to stress about changing your menu at the last minute.
There is little to no waste when using frozen, partially cooked proteins. You keep a suitable amount in your chiller, thaw, and prepare as you go. Most partially-cooked proteins can be quickly thawed in a microwave or cooked straight from frozen to keep your prep time to a minimum, so you can keep the plates coming. Of course, you can still bring flair with your trimmings and condiments.
A frozen partially-cooked protein means anyone can prepare the dish. For example, compare the prep time on a hand-made burger patty to one partially cooked and flash-frozen. If you struggle to keep your staff numbers up, the frozen option will be an easy win for a kitchen hand - or a server - who has minimal training in the kitchen.
Freezing guarantees the freshness of your produce. Frozen food suppliers typically flash-freeze their products as soon as possible, which means when thawed, the core nutrition and supplemental vitamin and mineral counts will be the same as when frozen. Freezing locks in the goodness.2
With partially-cooked frozen protein at the centre of your dishes, you can still bring the fresh feeling with your trimmings. Premade bites, meatballs andsliders let you spend more time sourcing and preparing your other fresh ingredients. Not to mention mixing up some great sauce combos to bring the tailor-made touches.
At times like these, when event caterers are struggling to keep to the quotes from even a few weeks ago as prices continue to pinball, a simple hack like loading up on frozen, partially-cooked proteins can be the difference between making the bank and breaking it.