Here is our list of the best conference food ideas.
Conference food ideas are meal ideas that you can use to build the menu for guests at a conference. For example, coffee and tea, low-fat pretzels, and turkey bacon. The purpose of these ideas is to provide food options for a conference that will satisfy the guests and make the event memorable.
You can use these ideas in your conference agenda, and can adapt many of these menus for virtual conferences. To organize and run the gathering, you can also use event planning books and event management software.
This list includes:
- conference breakfast ideas
- conference lunch menu ideas
- dinner meeting food ideas
- conference buffet ideas
- finger food ideas for meetings
Here we go!
List of Conference Food Ideas
There are numerous conference food ideas you can try for your next meeting. From mini muffins to Thai food, here is a list of the best ideas for meals at conferences.
Tapas are Spanish appetizers that make excellent finger food ideas for meetings. These snack-sized dishes come in small, shareable plates and work well for any time of the day.
Tapas ideas include:
- Spanish style meatballs
- Baked tortilla cheese with excalivada
- Chorizo, manchego, and olive skewers
- Pan con tomate
- Chicken croquettes
- Cauliflower fritters
If you want to have tapas on your conference menu, then you should decide if you want the tapas hot or cold. You can prepare some cold tapas like pan con tomate in advance and serve cold. However, you have to prepare and serve tapas like clams immediately.
This food choice promotes sharing and can encourage networking during your event.
2. Fresh Fruit Salad
Fresh fruit salad is one of many excellent conference breakfast ideas. Having fruits for breakfast is a refreshing way to start the day. Fruit salad is a healthy breakfast alternative that will fill your diet with beneficial nutrients.
Fruit salad is also one of the quickest menus to put together. Simply mix a variety of fresh-cut fruit, and your salad is ready. Depending on produce availability and desired taste, you can mix almost any assortment of berries, melons, and tropical fruits.
Here are some fruit combination ideas for a burst of color and tastiness:
- Strawberries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, banana, and mandarin oranges
- Apples, pineapples, grapes, mango, banana, blueberries, and strawberries
- Banana, apple, pineapple, seedless red grapes, and seedless green grapes
- Strawberries, tangerine, pineapple, blueberries, red grapes, and kiwi
Although the dressing on a fruit salad is optional, you can provide various options so that guests can choose whichever dressing suits their taste. You can also add toppings like nuts and marshmallows to the mix. Before the meeting, be sure to check and warn about potential allergies.
Pro Tip: One of the neatest conference buffet ideas is to set up a DIY fruit salad station so that guests can customize colorful bowls.
Check out more morning meeting ideas.
3. Coffee and Tea
Coffee is a part of the morning routine of many workers, which makes a coffee bar perfect for a morning meeting. You can set up a station with various blends of tea and coffee so that guests can begin the day with a beverage of choice. It is an excellent idea to serve the drinks with snacks such as:
- Banana pancakes
- Egg muffins
- Oatmeal cookies
- French toast
- Baked buttermilk scones
Be sure to have decaffeinated coffee and tea on hand for guests who prefer these options, and perhaps offer alternatives like hot chocolate and milk. You should provide water and juice for attendees who prefer neither coffee nor tea for breakfast. Also, stock plenty of sugar, honey, milk, and cream.
For more ways to feature these beverages, check out these lists of virtual coffee tastings and remote tea tasting experiences.
4. Grilled Chicken Fillet
Chicken fillet is rich in calcium, zinc, iron, and vitamins. You can serve the grilled chicken fillets alone for lunch. Or, you can pair the fillets with healthy side dishes like steamed broccoli, carrots, asparagus, and baked potato salad.
Grilled chicken is one of the tasty conference lunch menu ideas you can add to your next conference menu. The chicken fillets are high in protein and low in fat.
5. Freshly Squeezed Juice
Freshly squeezed juice can upgrade any conference menu. You can serve the juice as a breakfast drink alongside teas and coffee. You can also pair finger foods like mini muffins with freshly squeezed juices as side refreshments. A juice bar can also function as a midday pick-me-up and can perfectly complement outdoor activities.
Freshly squeezed juice is great for the nutritional benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, the juice will also help to keep the conference attendees hydrated.
6. Whole Grain Bagels
Bagels made from whole grain are worth considering on the conference breakfast menu because these items are high in fiber and antioxidants and support digestion.
Bagels are portable and easy-to-make meals. You can serve the whole grain bagels with peanut butter as long as none of the conference attendees have allergies to peanuts. Also, you can add to the tastiness with toppings like:
- Chocolate spread and strawberries
- Egg and cheese
- Flavored cream cheeses
- Tomato and avocado
- Greek yogurt and fruit
The conference attendees are likely to have topping preferences, and it is a good idea to have a spread of spreads available to suit a range of tastes.
7. Mini Muffins
Mini muffins are excellent finger food ideas for meetings. Mini muffins are similar to regular muffins, only bite-sized and easier to eat on the go.
Popular flavor choices include:
- Chocolate chip
- Banana nut
- Cinnamon sugar
Feel free to experiment with savory options such as cornbread, cheddar and chive, and mini meatloaf muffins. You can also add keto mini muffins to the conference menu for attendees on a keto diet and offer gluten-free options.
Although mini muffins are typically small, you get a balanced amount of toppings, and guests can mix and match flavors.
8. Oat-based Food
Oat is a fantastic fiber-packed choice for conference breakfast. There are many ways you can serve oats at a conference.
- Hot oatmeal – A simple hot oatmeal with milk, sugar, honey, and desired toppings
- Oat brownies – Oat brownies made with oat flour and cocoa powder are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast
- Oatmeal cookies – Oatmeal cookies for conference breakfast will go well with a glass of milk or tea
- Oatmeal mini muffins – Oatmeal muffins are great finger food that will pair well with a freshly squeezed juice
Oat-based foods are fabulous options for folks on vegan or keto diets.
9. Turkey Bacon
Turkey bacon is a low-fat alternative to pork bacon and a great breakfast idea for conference guests. This bacon comes from blending and pressing turkey meat to form long bacon strips.
One way to spice up the turkey bacon for conference breakfast with variables like:
- Bacon and cheese sandwich
- Avocado wrapped turkey bacon bites
- Roasted butternut and turkey bacon pasta
- Turkey bacon and egg white muffins
- Asparagus and turkey bacon salad
The taste of turkey bacon may differ from regular bacon, but turkey bacon is lower in sugar and fat.
Omelets are super tasty conference breakfast ideas. You can spice up this classic egg dish with like:
- French omelets
- Apple and brie omelets
- Ginger, spring onion, and mushroom omelets
- Frittata omelets
Omelet is one flexible meal you can serve in many variations, including a vegan diet. Vegan omelet contains other alternative ingredients to eggs like nutritional yeast, tofu, and tapioca starch.
For best results, set up omelet stations in the breakfast area where guests can order custom creations.
11. Donuts and Pastries
Donuts and pastries are perfect for an afternoon lunch break. Donuts may seem like unhealthy junk food, yet you can make the snack healthier by serving whole-grain donuts instead.
For a balanced meal, you can choose donuts with fruit toppings. Other healthy donut options you can opt for include:
- Avocado spread donut
- Baked banana donuts
- Paleo spinach donuts
- Lemon mini donuts
You can pair the donut with a healthy drink like a fruit smoothie or a fresh juice.
Ratatouille is a French meal with stewed vegetables like eggplants and sweet bell peppers.
Ratatouille is one of the tastiest dinner meeting food ideas to serve attendees. This meal is pretty low on sodium and cholesterol. Also, it is gluten-free and vegan, making it ideal for a large crowd with varying dietary requirements.
13. Low-fat Pretzels
Pretzels are tasty low-fat snack options for conferences. You can serve these pretzels with cheese or yogurt dipping sauce.
Other healthy foods that go well with low-fat pretzels are:
- Peanut butter
- Dark chocolate
You can also serve whole-grain pretzels that contain more nutrients than white flour versions.
Croissants make amazing conference breakfast ideas. You can serve the French pastries to attendees with fillings like:
- Fresh fruit
- Vanilla cream
- Mascarpone cream
- Orange cream
- Cream cheese
You can pair the croissants with coffee, fruit, or juice. If you plan to serve the croissants with fillings, then you can let attendees choose their desired fillings instead.
Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish of rice, vinegar, vegetables, and raw seafood. Serving sushi is one of the most upscale dinner meeting food ideas. If you want to serve sushi in a meeting, then you should first identify the type you want to serve. For instance:
- Nigirzushi – A type of sushi rice in an oblong ball shape with raw fish or raw seafood
- Temaki- A sheet of nori containing sushi rice and other fillings
- Uramaki – Made with stocky short-grain rice, rice vinegar, fresh fish, vegetables, meat, and nori
- Chirashizushi – Seasoned sushi rice usually topped with ingredients like omelets and raw fish
Cucumber, pickled seaweed, avocado, and asparagus are popular fillings for sushi. You can also serve side dishes like Kani salad, pickled ginger, or eggplant.
16. Granola Bars
Granola bars make great on-the-go snacks for conferences. The bars can come in different variations like:
- Cranberry nuts
- Chocolate protein
- Apple quinoa
- Oatmeal raisin
- Coconut almond
The meeting attendees can enjoy the tasty bars with yogurt, milk, fresh fruit juice, and peanut butter.
17. Mini Burritos
Mini burritos are fantastic finger food ideas for meetings.
Fillings ideas include:
- Grilled chicken caesar
- Sausage, egg, and cheese
- Avocado and black bean
- Smoked salmon
- Grilled veggies
Tasty mini burritos can also serve as excellent conference breakfast ideas. You can serve the burritos with coffee, tea, or other preferred drinks.
18. French Toast
French toast is one of the simple conference food ideas you can use for breakfast. French toast is typically slices of bread dipped in beaten egg and fried on a pan. Toppings take the dish from regular to extraordinary.
Here are ideas:
- Fresh fruits
- Peanut butter
- Chocolate hazelnut spread
- Coconut flakes
- Cream cheese
- Caramel sauce
- Almond butter
- Plain yogurt
You can also offer vegan and gluten-free versions of the dish.
19. Thai food
Thai food is a famous cuisine known for its distinct and unique flavor. Thai foods are special, and you can add them to your conference menu. Some popular Thai foods are:
- Thai mini shrimp lettuce wrap – Thai mini shrimp lettuce wraps contain shrimp, lettuce, and vegetables. This Thai food is quite easy and fast to prepare with loads of healthy nutrients. The shrimp lettuce wraps are perfect as quick conference lunch menu ideas.
- Thai weeping tiger steaks – This dish consists of marinated and grilled steak, and a dipping sauce
- Thai yellow chicken curry – You can choose several chicken curry recipes based on your preference. Chicken curries are usually made from chicken and vegetables like carrot and potato
- Thai chicken satay – Thai chicken satay goes well with thick and creamy peanut sauce. You can serve this tasty chicken satay over Thai rice for conference lunch
- Thai Panang curry – Thai Panang curry is full of veggies and is traditionally served with beef
Thai food can be spicy, so ensure water and milk are available during the meeting dining time.
Sandwiches are one of the most common conference lunch menu ideas. There are several types of sandwiches you can serve for conference lunch. For instance:
- Turkey sandwich
- Grilled chicken sandwich
- Seafood sandwich
- Egg sandwich
- Grilled cheese sandwich
- Vegetable sandwich
You can offer a wide variety of sandwiches to fit most diets and can serve individual sammies or party subs. In addition, you can serve the sandwiches with other side dishes like sweet potato fries, fruit salad, coleslaw. For a healthy sandwich option for the meeting attendees, opt for whole-grain bread instead of white flour bread.
21. Yogurt Parfait
Yogurt parfait is a delicious and refreshing way to start your morning.
These treats consist of ingredients like yogurt, fruits, granola, and nuts layered to look great in a parfait glass. There are many flavor combinations for a delicious glass of parfait. Some of these combinations include:
- Yogurt, strawberries, granola, and chia seeds
- Vanilla yogurt, granola, and blackberries
- Yogurt, diced mango, low sugar cereal, and hemp seed
You can serve parfait with any fruit. However, it is better to know the favorite fruits of the meeting attendees beforehand so that the attendees’ parfait can contain at least one favorite.
22. Vegetable Stir Fry
Vegetable stir fry is a mixture of colorful veggies in a sweet sauce. You can add other ingredients like eggs and grilled chicken and serve the dish with rice.
There are many recipes for a delicious plate of vegetable stir fry. For example, Asian vegetable stir fry requires vegetables like carrot, mushrooms, cabbage, and broccoli. If you want to serve the attendees with vegetable stir fires for breakfast, then pay attention to the attendees’ preferred veggies. You would want to avoid a situation where the attendees will be trying to remove the veggies they do not like from the meal.
Pizza is popular in offices worldwide and is one of the most convenient food ideas for conferences. You can eat pizza at any time of the day, whether for lunch or breakfast. A wide range of pizza toppings is available to suit different kinds of conference attendees’ diets.
- Whole wheat pita
- Zucchini boats
- Black beans
- Tomato slices
- Shredded chicken
You can also pair the pizza with other drinks like iced tea, lemonade, sparkling water, or wine.
For more fun with these savory pies, check out this list of virtual pizza party ideas.
24. Assorted Nuts
Assorted nuts are a combination of different nuts that you can serve to guests at a conference.
There is a wide range of nuts you can mix. For instance, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and Brazil nuts.
You can use boiled, roasted, or salted nuts. You can also add yogurts or chocolate coatings.
These mixes make convenient and easy-to-carry snacks that guests can enjoy throughout the event. Since nuts have a long shelf-life, these snacks will last the duration of the conference and beyond.
25. Cheese and Crackers
A combination of cheese and crackers is one of many simple conference buffet ideas. You can spice up the cheese and crackers you serve to guests with these ideas:
- Add some fruits to the cheese and crackers
- Give your cheese and crackers the pizza treatment with crackers, shredded cheese, tomato sauce, and toppings
- You can also prepare a creamy cheese spread with a plate of crackers next to it. Guest can pick a cracker, dip in the cheese spread and leave
For a conference where you will be expecting many guests, you can pile up cheese and crackers with a bunch of fruits so that guests can serve themselves.
These conference food ideas will help you decide what food to put on your next event menu. Enjoying a sumptuous meal at a conference positively affects the attendees’ spirits and fuels guests’ learning and networking. In choosing a conference menu, know the guests, including the number of guests, and note any allergies.
Feel free to also check out these lists of conference breakout session ideas, destination management companies and corporate retreat ideas.
We also have a list of the best conference quotes and a list of breakfast ideas for work.