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  • Writer's pictureMia Raj

5 catered lunch ideas

Ordering lunch for yourself is easy. However, ordering lunch for your entire company? Not even close. Planning company lunches can be a pain, especially when you have no clue what restaurants to order from, and you’re nervous about satisfying everyone’s preferences. Well, you came to the right place. Having a lunchtime meeting with a client or with your team can be difficult to navigate at your favorite local hot spot. In the middle of the workday, catering for lunch is simply an easier option.

With these 5 easy, healthy, and delicious catered lunch ideas, not only will everyone leave lunch satisfied, but you will also save time, money, and much-needed stress.

Catered Company Lunch in Office Building

What does catered lunch mean?

With the world returning to in-office work, catered lunches are also making a return. Catered lunches are a popular employee perk used to celebrate company wins such as the end of a successful quarter, to promote team-building, or simply to show employees that they’re appreciated. At many accounting firms, for example, employers cater lunch daily during the busy tax season to support employees through 12-hour work days.

Whatever your reason for hosting a team lunch may be, catered lunches provide a variety of benefits to both the employer and the employee. Catering lunch for your employees means:

Saving Time And Money

Other types of lunches, i.e. eating out or preparing your own lunch from home, can be stressful and expensive. Grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant sounds nice in theory but ultimately sacrifices work time for your organization and can come with a fat, expensive bill to pay in the end. Having a catering service handle your lunch also takes the stress out of having to prepare your own lunch at home before work and allows everything to be taken care of for you. Catering services prepare, deliver to your doorstep, set up, and clean everything - all factors saving valuable time. In addition, catering services often offer discounts for larger orders.

Keeping Employees Satisfied

Your company or team, in a sense, is like a family. It’s important for everyone to be in good harmony with one another because strong relationships enable better communication and collaboration. According to USA Today, providing free food to your employees can result in a 67% job satisfaction rate. By offering workplace lunches you’re providing the means necessary to strengthen company relationships and create a sense of community by bringing everyone together around a shared experience. Not only do you accomplish this, but you also provide a break for your employees and show your appreciation for them. Lastly, research proves that a healthy diet improves brain function, ensuring your employees are focused and energized while working from the office.

Appreciating Employees Through Food

You may think that catering means dry sandwich boxes or gigantic trays of pasta with a sad side salad. Luckily, this isn't the case. More and more restaurants nowadays are providing catering services offering countless options to choose from. You can order high-class meals or even cater from your favorite restaurants, like Cava. This ensures that everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences can be met, leaving no team member’s plate empty.


What do you serve for company lunch?

As you’re building your menu, the first and most important thing to keep in mind is everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences. This helps create catering options that everyone will like.

Use your lunch spend wisely. It’s important to think about ordering foods that offer the most nutritional benefits for your team. Choosing nutrient-dense or nutrient-rich foods can boost productivity and focus in the office.

Poor dietary habits are linked to fatigue, high-stress levels, brain fog, and a loss of productivity. For example, carbohydrate-heavy, protein-poor meals can impair your employees' ability to perform efficiently because these foods tend to cause the body to secrete a ton of insulin, which in turn floods the brain with sleep hormones like serotonin and tryptophan.

Choose a balanced meal full of healthy fats, protein, and fiber to help ensure everyone is happy and energized to accomplish the goals at hand.


How to cater to everyone's dietary requirements?

This task can be daunting, especially as the number of employees to feed increases. To help ease the process, here is a breakdown of how to cater to everyone’s dietary requirements:

1. Figure out which dietary restrictions need to be accounted for.

This can be done either through a survey or form, but can also be achieved through apps like bitewell! By using bitewell, companies are able to see everyone’s respective medical history, dietary restrictions, and personal preference, if granted access. However, if not granted access, employers are still given insight into their company’s top allergens and top preferences.

2. Choose a restaurant that is mindful of dietary restrictions.

A smart idea would be to confirm with each caterer that they can support your dietary needs.

3. Go buffet-style for larger events and individual options for smaller events.

When you have many employees to feed, having build-our-own meals is best. This way employees can pick and choose what to eat based on their restrictions and preferences without you having to order 20, 30+ individual meals.

4. Order food that meets everyone’s needs.

Take what you learned in step #1 when ordering for your team. Keeping a list or spreadsheet with everyone’s dietary restrictions can be a great way of preventing anyone from being missed and make placing orders much easier.

5. Clearly label each dish with the allergens it contains.

These labels can be quick and simple, just as long as each conveys the ingredients used in each dish.


5 catered lunch ideas

When feeding your team, it’s important to choose foods that everyone can enjoy. Otherwise, your desire to appreciate employees or promote team bonding may backfire. Here are 5 catered lunch ideas that will show your team you care:

1. The crowd pleaser…

Make the most of your lunch budget by serving up a spread that is nutrient-dense and energy-balanced so your workers return to their desks feeling energized and satisfied. Healthy can still mean delicious. Options such as chicken alfredo pasta with broccoli, a build-your-own burrito bowl buffet, or a cold sandwich assortment with a side salad provide a balance of protein, fat, fiber, and carbs.

What to order: From Chipotle, order bundles like “Work Anywhere” that include separate trays of chicken, steak, white rice, guacamole, lettuce, fajita veggies, cheese, salsa, and soft flour tortillas that allow you to build your own lunch.

2. For gluten-free employees…

Having a gluten-free option is always a good idea. With the increasing prevalence of gluten intolerances and individuals diagnosed with Celiac disease, not only will it feed individuals at your company, but more restaurants are offering this option as well, making it super easy. next time you are ordering for gluten-free employees, provide a second, gluten-free option like gluten-free bread, gluten-free dressing, or gluten-free pasta in addition to your first, standard option.

What to order: From Jason’s Deli, order a gluten-sensitive sandwich box that comes with 6 different gluten-free sandwich options along with their standard sandwich boxes.

3. For vegan employees…

Vegans are individuals who do not eat any food product derived from an animal. This includes red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. Anywhere that allows you to create your own bowl or salad is fantastic for Vegans because of the predominance of plant-based items and the ability to customize.

What to order: From Cava, order their “Build Your Own Bar,” which is characterized by plenty of plant-based foods or order falafel pita wraps for your vegan employees instead of their chicken, steak, and lamb pita wraps.

4. For tree nut & peanut allergies…

Peanut/tree nut allergies are a bit more tricky and require extra caution and maybe some research. You may have to call the restaurant directly or look on their website for an allergen menu to ensure you are not ordering something with tree nuts or peanuts. You’d be surprised by the number of dishes that contain these allergens.

What to order: P.F. Chang’s provides an allergen menu on their website. From P.F. Chang’s, order their lettuce wraps, spring rolls, or dumplings appetizer, with fried rice or lo mein as an entree.

5. The “light” or low-calorie option…

Last but not least, let’s discuss “light”/low-calorie catering options. “Light” can mean lower calories, fat, or sodium. Employees may be looking for this option because of medical reasons like diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, or simply changing their lifestyle.

What to order: From Potbelly, order “Box O’ Sandwiches” which leaves the high-calorie chips and cookies out that are included in their other sandwich boxes.

Another amazing catering service with tons of low-calorie options is Whole Foods Market. You can order anything from their fresh fruit platter, smoked fish platter, antipasti platter, or grilled vegetable platter. Likewise, you can order their Honey Lemon Roasted Salmon or Lemon Rosemary Chicken Breast that you can pair with the Broccoli Crunch Salad or Shaved Brussels and Kale Slaw.

The next time you find yourself in charge of ordering company lunch, remember these tips and catered lunch ideas to guide you in the right direction, relieve some stress, and leave everyone happy and energized for the rest of the day.

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