— Plus Questions You Should Answer Before Placing Your Order
A nice catered meal for the team is a great way to show appreciation for all the ways they contribute to the company’s success. And the positive effects of eating together can get an additional boost when lunch is on the company dime. Studies show that employees who share meals together are more likely to have higher productivity and morale.
In this article, we’ll share our favorite 20 company lunch catering ideas that are sure to speak to your team’s hearts, minds, and stomachs. Plus 5 questions you should ask ahead of time to ensure your lunch goes according to plan.
Looking to book caterers near you or even develop a team meal program? Learn more about our Catering & Pantry services to help better fuel your employees. Our marketplace features some of the best corporate caterers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and more!
Fast and Easy Company Lunch Ideas
Whether you’re on a strict budget or you’re just looking for a quick and efficient way to feed the office, these favorites are sure to please.
1. Who doesn’t love a sammy
Sandwiches are a staple among staff lunch ideas. Cold meat sandwiches are an easy way to keep everyone fed, but we encourage you to serve sandwiches employees won’t expect. Consider serving adult grilled cheese with caramelized onions, meatball sandwiches dripping in marinara sauce, or paninis filled with fresh, local produce.
2. Build your own bowl or burrito
Serving lunch that appeals to everyone’s tastes can be hard. That’s where building your own bowls and burritos comes in! Many corporate caterers offer bowls and burritos that can be customized based on each employee’s preferences.
Mexican cuisine is perfect for building a bowl or a burrito, but there are many ways to keep this concept fresh for lunchtime. Try Asian rice bowls, Mediterranean bowls, or Korean BBQ burritos.
3. Seasonal and hearty soups
No list of catering ideas for an office lunch is complete without soup! It’s perfect for the office because it can be filling without weighing everyone down. That way everyone still has energy to tackle the afternoon.
Stick with seasonal soups, and consider giving employees a range of soups to choose from. For example, roasted butternut squash soup is perfect for the fall, while gazpacho is perfect for the summer. Chicken noodle and tomato soup will appeal to a wide audience, while a creamy cabbage soup with kielbasa will appeal to those with adventurous tastes.
4. Customizable salads
What goes hand-in-hand with soup? Salad, of course!
Many employees will reach for a salad at lunch time because it’s light, healthy, and it can be filling. Keep your office lunch ideas interesting by incorporating unexpected ingredients in the salads you serve, like pear and hazelnut or maple roasted squash. Just make sure you include a protein, like chicken, black beans, or cheese to keep everyone full for longer.
5. Put it in a box
Corporate lunch boxes are always popular. They’re quick and easy to serve, they are sanitary, and they can be taken anywhere in the office. Sandwiches are a favorite among boxed lunch ideas for catering, but they aren’t your only option.
Bento boxes are popular and can include anything from smoked salmon pinwheels to zucchini noodle caprese. Presentation can take boxed lunches to the next level. Think flower-carved kiwi, heart-shaped rice cakes, and crinkle-cut carrot sticks.
6. Lunch for the peckish
Need new lunch meeting menu ideas because you’re dealing with a sluggish workforce in the afternoons? Snacky lunches to the rescue!
The quality of the snacks you serve is important. Pre-packaged items are quick and easy, but many caterers are also able to drop off refrigerated snacks, like boiled eggs, yogurt, and fresh fruit. Traditional lunch foods served as snacks, like finger sandwiches and mayonnaise-based salads, can be a lot of fun too.
7. Serve a plated meal
Fast and easy doesn’t have to mean casual. If you’re looking for a more upscale experience for your work crew, consider serving a plated meal. Choose a caterer and let employees choose their lunch ahead of time. Then, when it’s delivered, all they have to do is sit down and enjoy the food!
Creative Company Lunch Ideas
Want to surprise your crew with something a little different? Here are some creative company lunch ideas that will delight everyone in the office!
8. Serve family style
Serving employee lunch when you have coworkers with a wide range of tastes and dietary restrictions is made a little easier when food is served family style. An upgrade from the buffet, family style involves putting a variety of food directly on the table with everyone serving themselves.
This idea is best for tight-knit groups and small groups of people to ensure things remain sanitary and everyone is comfortable. Otherwise, consider a buffet where a gloved server piles food onto plates.
9. Cross-country cuisine
Why serve just one kind of food when you can serve many different kinds of dishes that appeal to everyone! Instead of just offering a smorgasbord of office lunch catering options, theme your options by offering cross-country cuisine. Serve Philly cheesesteak, Kansas City BBQ, and beignets from New Orleans.
10. Live sushi
Sushi is definitely on the list of favorite employee lunch ideas because rolls can be customized according to taste and dietary restrictions. For a fun spin on serving sushi, hire a sushi chef to create sushi-to-order. Everyone gets exactly what they want, and you get to watch a master in action while you wait.
11. Live stir fry
If your crew isn’t adventurous enough for sushi, try stir fry instead! It’s an equally easy way to customize work lunch catering options for everyone in the office, and it can be a lot of fun to pile up your ingredients and watch your meal be cooked right before your eyes.
12. Pot pies
Employees expect things like sandwiches, wraps, and burritos when it comes to corporate lunch catering. They probably won’t expect pot pies!
Consider serving a few different kinds that contain different flavors to ensure there’s something that will appeal to everyone’s tastes. Pot pies are a great unconventional grab-and-go option, so employees can take their pie and munch on it during a meeting or outside on a picnic table at lunch.
13. Food truck
Nothing makes a company luncheon more festive and fun than a food truck! Whether it’s tacos, cheeseburgers, or hot dogs, food trucks come with full menus for employees to order from. Not only do food trucks have great food, they are also a great way to encourage your employees to get some fresh air.
14. Provide employees with something to cook
The idea of providing employees with something to cook can be as mild or as wild as your imagination allows. With a fire pit outside, employees can roast their own hot dogs, for example.
If group lunch ideas for work never go as planned because everyone has wildly different lunch times, consider setting out things like personal pizzas, noodle bowls, and uncooked paninis so employees can whip up what sounds good when they have a minute.
Ideas to Keep Everything Safe and Healthy
Regardless of the office lunch catering ideas you want to try at work, the lunch hour can be safer and healthier with these tips.
15. Individually packaged lunch boxes
The best places to order lunch for the office offer individually packaged items. That might mean prepackaged meals, but food can be served by hand if the caterer follows all health and safety protocols. Instead, it should mean individually wrapped cups, silverware, and napkins to keep everything sanitary.
16. Server services
Utensils can get germy fast when multiple people in the office are serving themselves. Instead, ask your caterer to provide servers, or hire them separately so a single set of gloved hands makes sure everyone gets something to eat.
17. Bussing services
Who is picking up after lunch is over? Do yourself a favor and add bussing services to your list of company lunch ideas to try. Instead of members of your team picking up napkins, plastic silverware, and other items and disposing of them in the trash, a busser can do it all for you to reduce the spread of germs.
18. Cleaning attendants
The best office lunch catering doesn’t end just because everyone is done eating. A lot of particles become airborne as employees chew their food, especially if they are also talking to coworkers. After lunch is over, hire a cleaning attendant to come in and sanitize surfaces so no lingering germs are left behind.
19. Schedule lunch pickup
Have a lot of people to serve? Having everyone wait in line or cram into a boardroom to eat creates a breeding ground for germs. Instead, give everyone a scheduled lunch pickup time. That way you can get lunch for the entire company, but small groups of people can come and get their food every 10 minutes or so. No one has to wait in line, and everyone isn’t eating in a small space all at once.
20. Have hand sanitizer by the door
Hand sanitizer should be included in every list of company lunch ideas. Place it by the door so people can use it before they pick up their food and again when they are ready to head back to their desks.
Questions to Answer Before Placing Your Company Lunch Order
A successful company lunch requires planning and forethought. Make sure you can answer these questions before you place your order.
What’s the budget?
Corporate luncheon ideas that you can try will depend on your budget. Determine how much you have to spend and make sure you get a quote from the caterer.
How many people are eating lunch in the office?
The number of people eating will help you determine your budget, but it’s important to know exactly how many lunches you will need so no one gets left out.
Whether you’re looking into meeting lunch ideas with just a few people in attendance or you want to serve the entire company, it’s better to order a little more than you think you will need. Order something that keeps well and it can be placed in the fridge as leftovers for employees who are looking for a quick lunch the next day.
How can we address dietary restrictions?
Inclusivity at work is extremely important. You want every member of your team to feel included, which means no one should be left out of office lunch ideas for the group simply because their dietary restrictions don’t enable them to participate.
Send out a survey that asks employees about what they want to try for lunch, with the option to fill in dietary restrictions. Allowing employees to order what they want for lunch days ahead of time can ensure everyone gets the right meal. Making sure there are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options will be appreciated by all of your employees.
When the food arrives, pay attention to what everyone eats! You may notice that no one eats gluten-free, so you can avoid ordering those items in the future, but everyone loves the vegetarian options, which means you can have your favorite vegetarian restaurant cater lunch in the future.
Will we have to make individual orders or a group order?
Individual orders require placing the order well ahead of time. They can also be more costly. Group orders can often be placed last-minute and can be more cost-effective, but you also run the risk of having extra food left over because employees don’t like what you ordered. Knowing what kind of order you want to make can help you determine your budget, it can help you plan for dietary restrictions, and it helps you figure out exactly when you need to place your order.
How long is lunchtime?
An often overlooked aspect of ordering company lunch is exactly how long you have for lunch! If everyone only has a half an hour, a boxed lunch or grab-and-go pot pie is a good choice. If you want to treat employees to a long lunch, you will have enough time for more interactive lunches, like live hand-rolled sushi or cooking hot dogs over a fire.
Always plan on employees taking a little longer for lunch when it is catered. It often creates a celebratory atmosphere, which means employees will likely linger a little longer to talk to coworkers before returning to their desks.
How to Kick Off Your Lunch Program with Thriver
A well-fed employee is a happy employee.
If you’re planning to implement a lunch program to show your team appreciation and boost their success, Thriver can help.
Our team of Thriver Culture Experts can walk you through the entire process of ordering, serving, and cleaning up after a catered lunch experience for your team. We’ll work with you to plan the perfect meal (food + logistics), considering of your team’s preferences or dietary needs. There is no team too big or too small, and no lunch program too simple or too elaborate — Thriver’s Culture Experts have you covered, free of charge.