You need to put this all into perspective. Unless you have a restaurant that continuously prepares food, each and every job will be a days work...at least. Therefore regardless of how many folks you are cooking for, you need to decide what a days work is worth to you. I have my price set and I take the cost of the food and add that figure to it. That doesn't mean that I will not do favors when cooking for friends or family, in fact we probably do that for free on most occasions.
Another thing to think about is trying not to undercut the competition, there are many folks who do this for a living. If you lowball them you might be ruining the local catering market. Another thing to think about is that your food is hopefully better that the local BBQ joint, so obviously you should charge more.
In the end, if you need the money, you might be willing to work for less money to get the job, but if you do, you are probably losing money and sleep and wearing out your family members.
As far as costs go, on each and every job you should install a wear and tear on your pit cost, say $100. I use $150 myself. You can also go to duckybobs.com and use their price list, that is what I do. I learned that from another caterer.
I catered two jobs this weekend, one was a freebie almost ($8 a head (20 persons) delivered, just brisket beans and taters in three aluminum half pans) and only because I made too much food for the other one and they didn't have as many guests as they figured on having. The other was to have 160 folks (I found it was half that on Wednesday after I bought all of my food) and I was doing ribs as well as PP, brisket and chicken, plus beans, taters, ABT's, peach cobbler and brownies. They ended up only having 90 folks show up due to the TCU game. My charge was $15 a head with a minimum $1500. In the end I like to add $1000 to my costs for a job. Then there are always things I forget, this weekend it was aprons and bottled water, so my profit was just under $1000, but I also have 9 racks of ribs leftover still frozen as well as two briskets and a chicken, plus several cans of beans and other misc...
You learn a little more on every job. I used to make my sauce, now I just buy it, less work and you know the exact costs. Any thing that I don't have to buy adds to my bottom line too. My one problem I still have is I cook way too much food mainly because I do not want to take the chance of disappointing, plus it works for me and I am as busy as I want to be.
All in all a successful weekend, but my wife and I were whoooped (we got there at noon because as we all know ribs are time consuming, but left for a few hours after getting them on the smoker). My wife and I both have great jobs during the week and this is still our hobby. We probably got a few jobs out of this one and stayed around for several hours afterwards drinking beer and listening to the band. (BTW, thillen
works with a guy in the band so we had something in common and they also invited us to their holloween party next weekend) There were only about 12 guests left after 9PM and we didn't get out of there until 11PM. Networking with a twelve ounce I call it!
I also feel the need to add that when catering, you need to know that you are the hired help and by charging appropriately, it is so easy to say yes sir.
Our attitude is that nobody does it better and we make the best food and we always toss out the very best there is to offer. I was saying to my wife this morning, "It is so hard for me to do those catering jobs because I have a big mouth and have a hard time just saying thank you and leaving it at that" She just laughed.
back to the original question and away from my big mouth and big keyboard....Prices, well one way to check them is to go online.
should you charge more....you are damned straight.... if you feel you are up to the task that is.
Like I said, based on these kind of prices.... hard work and very little money. I can also tell you that if you haven't cooked for 100-150 before, you are apt to find out that you have a job ahead of you. Plus I have three refrigerators and a full size freezer. All of that stuff costs money and you need to somehow add it to your prices. I am looking to get a full sized 6- burner commercial stove.... LOL
I included a copy of the list I used from this weekends catering job. By doing the little $8 a head job I was able to keep my profit at over $1000.
The attachment is from my catering job this past weekend. The orange
indicates I didn't actually buy those items because I had them on hand that said, I still needed to apply a price to those items. Off to the side I added the costs that duckybobs would charge just to compare. I would work something like this up if you plan on doing catering.
Hope I didn't wear you out with my long winded answer! I will be amused to know what other folks who cater think of my statements??? I know you asked about vending, but this is as close as I get.