Production Manager, Shona Galloway from Artswork Media in Bristol is sharing her insight into what the best options are for self-catering on a shoot, for the crew and cast.
Disclaimer – All prices are based off Tesco prices, and have been based on catering for 6 people in mind of a small crew.
I have recently been on a shoot for a BBC1 live show, which required the crew to be on location at 6am. To keep everyone’s energy levels up for the remainder of the morning, they provided everyone with a full English breakfast with vegetarian alternatives too. This was great as it livened everyone up after eating, and kept us full until midday.
Typical cost of catering a full English Breakfast for 6 people (bacon, eggs, sausages, bread, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pudding, beans, hash browns) – £20
However, if you don’t have the budget or the resources for a full English breakfast, fresh fruit with a side of carbohydrates (toast, porridge, cereal) is a great alternative. The porridge especially will give a slow burn of energy, which is longer lasting than a breakfast bar or a bagel. We recently provided half a dozen actors and a dozen crew members with this type of breakfast, and it went down very well. Keeping the actors and the crew on the healthy path was a strong move, as I received feedback from the actors saying that they loved not feeling bloated or lethargic after eating breakfast.
Typical cost of a fresh fruit and carbohydrate breakfast for 6 people (bananas, grapes, strawberries, apples + porridge oats, milk/vegan alternative, honey, cereal, bread) – £14
Around mid-morning, the hunger begins to kick in again for a lot of people. Tea and biscuits are cheap and easy to provide and will give everyone a small burst of energy to carry them through to lunch. Oreo’s are a good vegan alternative to the more traditional biscuits e.g. the classic custard cream, and it will make any of the cast and crew who are vegan feel included.
Typical cost of tea and biscuits for 6 people (teabags, milk/vegan alternative, biscuits) – £5
Fruit and nuts are another great pick me up, especially things like grapes, bananas, and cashews. They aren’t messy, and the cast and crew can graze as much or as little as they want.
Typical cost of fruit and nuts for 6 people (grapes, bananas, cashews) – £6
As delicious as they are – stay away from unhealthy foods, such as donuts and pastries. They may give a burst of a sugar rush, but it will all come crashing down when the short spike of energy runs out.
If you have the facilities to cook a warm lunch, a cheap and easy option is soup and bread. You can heat up a large amount of soup relatively quickly and is always a safe bet (if there are no dietary requirements or allergies). Having a hot lunch is always advised if you are shooting at an outside location, as everyone involved in the production will lose motivation and energy if they are feeling cold or underfed.
Typical cost of soup and bread for 6 people (3 baguettes and 5 cans of tomato and basil soup) – £7
If you do not have the option for a hot lunch, cold pasta is a satisfactory substitute. A producer I once worked with told me to try and use gluten-free foods on shoots. This is because gluten stops bloating and food cramps, and accounts for people with celiac disease (which is 1 in 100 people here in the UK) so is likely to include at least one member of the crew or cast.
Typical cost of cold pasta for 6 people (gluten-free pasta, pasta sauce, baby sweetcorn, onions, green beans, broccoli, pepper, mushrooms) – £8
For dinner, it is always a nice reward for the cast and crew to eat out, or to ask one of the runners to find a restaurant with a ‘food to go’ option (if pushed for time).
Typical cost of eating at a medium-priced restaurant (with a drink) for 6 people – £75
However, not everyone will have a budget for this, which is where some homemade cooking will come into play. You will make your life easier if you are including all different diets into one meal rather than cooking multiple meals for the meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans (I learned the hard way and ended up chaotically cooking three different main meals).
A chilli option, a cottage pie option or a spaghetti bolognese option is a great way to do this. You can use vegan mince which is in all major supermarket chains now, and can simply substitute any animal products for plant-based alternatives. You can warm up the dish you have already made in an oven or a microwave, then you only need to bring cutlery and bowls. A warm, homely meal is just what is needed after a long day of filming, and your cast and crew will be grateful for your efforts.
Typical cost of the homemade cottage pie option for 6 people (mince/vegan mince, onions, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, stock, cannellini beans, chopped tomatoes, cheese, butter and milk (if everyone can eat it) – £15