Some ideas for a lunch buffet include pasta salad, green salads, chips, and meats and breads to create sandwiches. For dessert, a tray of brownies or cookies works well.
Pasta salads are an easy side dish as it is possible to use anything from creamy dressings to a balsamic vinaigrette with fresh herbs. Preparing them a few hours before the event and refrigerating them improves the flavor and helps cut down cooking time for the host during the event.
Green salads can also be made in advance, making sure that the vegetables are completely dry, and dressing is added only when the salad is ready to serve. Another option for dressing is to have several dressings available for guests to choose. If the host is allowing guests to create sandwiches, there should be three choices of deli meats and a multitude of breads.
If the host is planning to have a catered lunch buffet, foods can focus around ethnic themes such as American food, Italian food, Southwest food or Asian food. An American buffet may include burgers and fries, while an Italian buffet may include pasta and pizza. Southwest buffets can include tacos and fajita stations, while an Asian buffet can include spring rolls, stir fries, and rice and noodle dishes.