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Left Behind: Look For Catering Leftover Policies That Conserve Food

If you’re starting to plan your wedding, the question of catering is probably already starting to poke at your brain. After all, you don’t want to run out of food for your guests. However, over-ordering isn’t that appealing, either. The potential for wasted food—or being left holding enough cookies and other goods to last you the rest of the year—can really make planning a menu an unwelcome task. The solution is to find a caterer who offers a non-waste leftover policy, and who knows how to plan out a menu that will be just right for your guests. The Two-Hour Rule and Leftovers Leftover food encompasses two groups: One is highly perishable food, such as chicken, cream-based desserts, cooked vegetables, and other dishes that either have to be kept warm or have to be refrigerated or frozen to stay good. The other group consists of foods that, even if they eventually decay, they can sit on a table for several hours without a problem. Whole fruit, crackers, brownies, and other similar foods are in this group. The foods in the first group get one shot at being eaten. Caterers working on-site are usually not going to have the fridge space to keep all uneaten food from each guest, much less keep the food separate and labeled. Plus, there’s no way to tell how long it will take the guest to get within range of a refrigerator after the reception, either. The chances of that food being outside a refrigerator for more than two hours is too great. In the name of food safety, that food is going in the trash at the end of the night. The foods in the second group, though, don’t have to be trashed. A whole apple will eventually rot, but it won’t rot within a couple of days—ample time for someone to eat it or get it into a refrigerator. Same with a lot of breads and unopened drinks. If you’re worried that you’re going to end up with too many of these items for people to finish at the reception, look for a caterer who offers one of the following solutions: Sends the leftovers to a food bank...