Mixing Up the Box Lunch: 4 Ideas to Keep Your Office Meals Exciting
At most business conferences, there’s no meal as predictable as the box lunch. A little cardboard square containing a deli sandwich, bag of chips, and a cookie — maybe an orange, which no one will eat, because it’s too messy to peel and consume while trying to take notes.
Attendees take their box, grab a can of soda, and head back to their seat, because there’s another PowerPoint presentation coming up. Suddenly, a sense of deja vu washes over: haven’t we all been there before?
No one wants to attend a predictable conference or training seminar; the whole point of a special event or meeting is to create an engaging atmosphere of learning or collaboration that can’t be experienced in the course of a regular day. If you’re organizing a conference and really looking to create an environment where attendees feel like their time is being well spent, you should probably extend your efforts to the catering table, too. Don’t let a boring box lunch ruin the spirit of innovation — aim for the food you serve to match the creativity and quality of the conference’s content itself.
We’ll keep our “think outside the box” puns to ourselves, but here are a few ways to put an unexpected twist on the traditional catered box lunch:
1) Go bento. Traditional Japanese bento boxes are a healthy, delicious, and unpredictable choice for a catered meeting or event. Most bento boxes are served in special trays with several compartments, and may include white or brown rice, teriyaki meat, steamed or pickled vegetables, and occasionally sushi like a California roll or a small cup of miso soup. Some may even substitute healthier broiled fish (like salmon, which is rich in omega-3’s) for the more American diet-friendly teriyaki chicken or beef. While certainly more exotic than deli sandwiches, bento boxes are prevalent enough in the U.S. that most of your conference attendees will be familiar with them. Still, it might be a good idea to have a few traditional box lunches on hand for attendees who may not like Japanese food… or trying new things.
2) Skip the chips. Even switching up the “side dish” — if you can call a bag of potato chips a side dish — can keep your box lunch from feeling too familiar. Instead, include a serving of a healthy whole-grain based salad like quinoa and black beans or whole wheat pasta salad. Other options include a fresh fruit salad, roasted potatoes, or a small wedge of cheese and crackers.
3) Think Mediterranean. Not only is the Mediterranean diet incredibly popular, but it translates well into a single-portion, low-maintenance lunch. Have your box lunch include a grilled shrimp kebab, tabbouleh (a salad made from bulgur, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs), hummus with raw veggies and whole wheat pitas for dipping, and roasted nuts. Your attendees will welcome the refreshing change of pace, and since their lunch is packed full of whole grains and vegetables instead of highly processed carbohydrates, their energy levels will remain steady throughout the afternoon — no drooping eyelids at 3 pm.
4) Switch up the sandwiches. Rather than attendees’ only choice being turkey or roast beef (or, for the poor vegetarians, a cheese sandwich), include an assortment of deli-friendly items: a scoop of chicken or tuna salad and plenty of raw vegetables, Southwestern-style chicken wraps with salsa, and leafy green salads provide more interesting alternatives to traditional sandwiches. Include whole-wheat crackers or a bean salad (the fiber will help attendees feel full) and a serving of fruit that’s easy to eat while working — think apples and berries rather than oranges or peaches.
At Waiter.com, we’ll help you find the perfect box lunch solution for your conference or business event — whether that means Japanese bento boxes or an entirely gluten-free menu. Our Virtual Cafeteria Service and takeout and delivery options make it easy to find the right box lunches for any audience, so that you can spend your time and energy on your meeting itself instead of worrying about the food!
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 — Waiter.com is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & delivery, Waiter.com offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!