Think Outside the Pizza Box: 5 Easy Ways to Up the Office Lunch Ante

Posted by on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 with Comments Off on Think Outside the Pizza Box: 5 Easy Ways to Up the Office Lunch Ante Comments

From Google’s famous cafeterias to startups’ weekly office happy hours, smart employers know that providing free food is a easy and highly welcomed perk in the workplace – and makes you look like a better boss. But when your employees come to expect a few boxes of pizza or the same Chinese takeout boxes every Friday, your staff lunches may be selling your message of appreciation short.

stacks of pizza boxes

If this is your office, you may be stuck in a lunch rut.
Image source: flickr user NathanHuth

Surveys show that “unexpected treats and rewards” like office meals or snacks are the second most popular form of employer appreciation (monetary bonuses ranked highest); however, don’t neglect the importance of the “unexpected” element. After all, treating your staff to a catered or delivered lunch isn’t just about sustenance; it’s about creating excitement and building social connections without ever leaving the office. There should be a buzz around the building when a surprise meal delivery shows up, and a feeling that something special is happening. When a few boxes of pizza show up every Friday, that excitement easily becomes muddled into part of the daily routine.

With the goal of creating a special occasion in mind, here are a few ways to think outside the pizza box during your next office lunch!

Host a traditional Indian buffet in the break room! This is easy to pull off and, for most offices, represents a big step outside the normal routine. Order a wide assortment of entrees and side dishes, and serve them family-style. Choose both easily approachable dishes like samosas and tandoori chicken, as well as some more unusual options, such as baingan bharta and rogan josh.

plate of comfort food

Treat your employees to a Southern comfort food extravaganza.
Image source: flickr user pam’s pics

If your employees are not particularly adventurous eaters, then go for a sure bet with a spread of Southern comfort food. Think big platters of barbecued pork, mac & cheese, collard greens, and a pecan pie for dessert. For most of us, this kind of meal is an indulgent treat… which is exactly what you’re going for.

You will really take your employees by surprise when you stage a dim sum brunch late in the morning instead of a traditional lunch! Sharing dim sum with a large group is a Cantonese tradition, and the food itself is composed of many individual servings of dishes like pork dumplings, egg rolls, and spare ribs. There are few meals more social, and a dim sum meal is the perfect opportunity to encourage cross-departmental conversation as employees try a plethora of new foods. Just make sure to order plenty: dim sum is addictive.

Chinese dim sum

The Chinese tradition of dim sum is a wonderful way to build social bonds in the office.
Image source: flickr user amesis

For a more festive occasion, stage an elaborate Hawaiian luau complete with grilled pork and shrimp, rice pilafs, papaya salad, and a pineapple upside-down cake for dessert. If you’d really like to make it a celebration, greet employees with leis and play Hawaiian music to foster a festive mood throughout the meal.

And finally, especially around Mardi Gras time, nothing will up the celebratory ante like a big table full of New Orleans cuisine. From chicken-andouille gumbo to jambalaya to muffalettas, there will certainly be an item for everyone on the buffet. 

Essentially, as long as you keep the meal routine varied and unpredictable, you’ll achieve your goal of creating buzz and excitement around the office when it’s time for a workplace lunch! With online ordering and a huge selection from, it’s never been easier to keep your employees well-fed, feeling appreciated, and looking forward to the next office meal.

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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