Have all meals ordered one week before the event. There are plenty of other things to deal with during the weekend—food is not something you’ll want to be worrying about. For those meals that aren’t being delivered, be sure to assign an Organizer or volunteer responsibility for picking that food up well in advance.
When scheduling deliveries, ask to have it delivered at least 30 minutes before it needs to arrive—don’t rely on prompt delivery times.
The best way to get high quality, affordable food is to contact local cafes and restaurants and explain your situation to them: “We have X number of people and Y is how much we have in the budget. Can you help us work with that?” This will almost always provide better results than simply ordering a specific quantity and asking for a discount. Smaller establishments are more willing to work with your budget and provide high-quality meal ideas at a great price. Phone calls, and even in-person visits typically provide the best results than e-mail. Support your local food spots!
Food is fuel. It’s brain power. When given the choice to save a few dollars or spend a little more for higher-quality food, get the higher-quality food.
Alternatively, some local cafes and restaurants may be willing to donate food in exchange for some recognition, which can be built into a potential sponsorship.