5 Lunch Catering Ideas for the Office
Who's to say what a 'new normal' looks like? With a world affected by the Delta variant and fluctuating vaccination rates, it's challenging for offices to know what to do.
Should they bring employees back to the office? What about work gatherings and lunches? The answers to these questions depend on the vaccination and transmission rate in your area and your company.
If transmission rates are low and everyone in your office is vaccinated, it's time to start brainstorming some low-stakes bonding events, such as lunch catering ideas. After all, you've hired a lot of new team members since the pandemic began.
Old-timers haven't seen each other in quite a while. Mentors haven't been able to connect with their proteges, interns may feel lost, and everyone feels disconnected, even if they work on the same team.
We've assembled a guide to lunch catering ideas to help you bring your team together in a safe, fun manner.
Know Your Audience
As any host knows, putting together a menu is a challenge. This is true whether you're trying to put together a barbecue in your backyard or you're involved in corporate lunch catering.
Take your region into account. For instance, is your office located in the heart of the Bible Belt? Barbecue could be a good option and pay homage to some of the traditional flavors of the region.
If you live in San Francisco or other progressive cities, there may be more vegans on your team than you originally anticipated. Try to get a feel for what your team will eat before putting too much effort into lunch catering.
However, when you're trying to nail office lunch catering, two things will save you: options and clear labeling.
1. Lunch Box Catering
Our first recommendation is lunch box catering. It's a sanitary version of the classic buffet. Try to find a catering option that's more grab-and-go than fancier options.
For instance, depending on the size of your office, you could have a few sub-sandwich-themed lunch boxes. Others could be more snack-oriented, such as trail mix and yogurt. Other boxes could mimic a charcuterie board.
You can also group boxes by diverse themes, such as finger food. This keeps things from being boring. Chicken fingers, tacos, sandwiches, deviled eggs, cookies, truffles, all these things technically count as finger food!
If there are lots of choices, you can avoid cross-contamination for those with severe allergies. It's also a great way to allow people to mix and match based on their dietary preferences and requirements.
With lunch box catering, though, clear labeling is crucial. If someone has a severe nut allergy and assumes the chocolate chip cookies are a safe option, this could be disastrous if those cookies include macadamia nuts.
1. Street Tacos
Experts predict that everyone will be a little warier of buffet options than they ever were before. No matter how much effort you put into separating clean and dirty utensils, buffets are a risk.
People are breathing over the food, and it can go wrong if left out for too long. This might be an option to avoid if you live in an area with high transmission, low vaccination rates, and resistance to masking.
But if you live in a relatively safe location, go wild! There's no need to confine yourself to Taco Bell-Esque options such as bland lettuce and overcooked hamburger.
You could go for a Mexican street food theme, Korean tacos, or a Latin-Asian fusion, whatever your heart and budget desire!
The best thing about street tacos when it comes to lunch catering is that everyone is happy. If you carefully manage cross-contamination via utensils—or even appoint a designated server to load up everyone's plates—people can avoid items they don't like.
The taco idea can also be adapted to any other food created in an individualized, assembly-line fashion. Maybe your company is highly health-conscious. If that's the case, what about Buddha bowls or salads?
No one creates their meal in the same way, and with the suitable options, your employees can take advantage of high-quality catering to eat something they enjoy.
2. Make Your Own Pizza
If you just wanted to give employees a meal, you could pass out Uber Eats gift cards. But office lunch catering is so much more than that. When you're putting together lunch catering ideas, you're not just giving out food.
Instead, you're creating genuine team-building opportunities. This is invaluable and is proven to have real benefits. A team that gets to know each other outside the work hours builds trust, which is done more easily outside of a strictly professional, productive environment.
When a team knows and trusts each other, they brainstorm more freely. They problem-solve more efficiently, and conflict is reduced. This results in real monetary benefits for the company, which is an excellent demonstration of how valuable interpersonal relationships can truly be.
With all that in mind, what about putting pizza on your lunch catering menu? This can go a few different ways, depending on your preferences and budget.
Know that traditional pizza automatically excludes those with gluten and dairy allergies. What about switching it up a little?
You can go with the traditional Italian cuisine option. These pizzas are works of art and can often be customized depending on your order. This will likely be different from the pineapple-and-pepperoni Americanized options that many employees will expect, however.
And if you don't have the budget for fancy pizza, much less asking for dietary accommodations, why not try something different?
Buying individual pizza crusts, sauce, and toppings is a great way for everyone to make a pizza they'll like. Some people prefer extra cheese on their pizza, while others want veggie-only toppings.
Assembling a pizza takes no particular culinary skill and is an excellent opportunity for your team to come together for a tasty, common goal.
3. Dessert and Drinks
If you like to call it early on Fridays, what about a fun casual end to your workweek? Dessert and drinks are a light lift when it comes to catering but can go a long way to make employees feel appreciated.
It's important to stop and note that drinks might not work for your particular company culture. In recent years, the backlash toward corporate drinking has grown.
Some employees may have a family history with alcohol, choose not to drink it, or are recovering alcoholics. Others may need to drive home afterward, and others have children or other dependents to look after.
It's also important to note that no one wants to see their colleagues wasted. It can damage working relationships and foster resentment, which is the opposite of what lunch catering is intended to do.
Drinks don't have to mean alcohol. It can mean non-alcoholic beverages, such as tea or coffee. You can also go with fun sodas.
However, why not switch things up and make it a little more fun? Think about replacing the traditional notion of 'drinks' with a shaved ice truck.
It's a light summertime option that can be endlessly customized based on the type of flavors each person prefers. It's a great way to bring that childhood nostalgia back into your summer workweeks!
4. Pick a Theme
Sometimes, you need something a little more formal than a shaved ice truck or street tacos. You might want to ensure your lunch catering coincides with a big business meeting or important clients flying out to visit your office in person.
If that's the case, you'll want something impressive but not too expensive. With this in mind, consider what people want.
Catering doesn't have to be a four-course meal. And in a professional setting, this is rarely expected in-office. Those types of events are usually reserved for connecting with clients after hours at a fancy restaurant.
For instance, what if you picked a light Parisian theme for your catering needs? You could have a unique coffee bar with lots of options. Pair that with some delicious pastries, and you'll be set!
Lunch catering ideas don't have to be super complex. A good catering company will work with you, and that includes your specific needs and budget.
Sometimes, all you need is a fun pastry and coffee bar. At other times, it's important to level up and develop a catering option that brings your team together. It all depends on what works for you.
Lunch Catering Ideas
If you want more lunch catering ideas, why not pass the torch off to your catering company? The competition in the New York/New Jersey area is fierce, with caterers from all over the world vying for your attention.
Luckily, we have the experience and reviews to prove that we come a cut above the rest. If you'd like someone to handle all of your office catering needs, we've got you covered. Contact us today!