Aug 16 2017
Lauren Hamer
3 Minutes to read

Your day is jammed with task after task. It’s hard to fit in all of your regular work, let alone tasks that fall outside of your traditional scope. But, even so, you’re the glue that holds the team together. So, how do you order lunch for the office when you can’t always spend days (or even hours) planning? How can you organize a meeting that respects people’s time and leaves a memorable impact on your co-workers?

Pre-planning is all it takes to execute the perfect lunch meeting when you’re tight on time. Here are a few tips to help you order lunch for the office on short notice.

Identify Your Targets

Every office team has their favorite places. If your team doesn’t, create a running list of target caterers or cuisines to use when you need to order quickly. Is it Italian, burgers, sandwiches, or Mexican that will please your group most? Identifying the types of food that bring your group back for seconds will save time in the future.

The caterer you choose will have the biggest impact on your lunch success. You want to order from someone reliable, experienced, and trustworthy, who is able to accommodate large groups, offers fast and efficient service, and, most importantly, provides a variety of food options. ezCater’s caterer marketplace has over a million ratings and reviews, so you can find the perfect provider to ensure your meeting goes off without a hitch. Filter by budget and food type to help select the winning caterer.

Consider the Venue

Once you’ve created your list of potential caterers, you should consider the meeting venue. Certain foods will be more appropriate in certain environments. Messy, hard-to-eat foods might not work for a casual outdoor meeting, while indoor settings won’t benefit from dishes with aromas that could linger for hours. On your list of different caterers and cuisines, add a column that identifies which type of meetings work with each provider. Adding this now will help you narrow down your catering options quickly when you’re in a crunch. Update the list after each catering experience to make this a living document you can refer to as needed.

Coordinate the Menu

Once you’ve chosen your caterer, it is time to tackle individual and team orders. There are two options for ordering food for the office quickly. You can have your team select a meal beforehand and cater individual boxed lunches, or you can offer a buffet lunch so everybody who attends can make their own plates.

Individual orders: Coming up with an efficient office ordering system will help streamline the collection process for individual orders. Try using a polling form or survey system, like Google Forms or Survey Monkey, to collect group responses. When gathering input, include what you are planning the meal for and only a few proposed menu options in the survey to help with your response rate and objections.

Find Your Perfect Caterer

Buffet Style: Providing platters of food where people can select their own items and portions from a variety of samplings will ensure everyone gets something good to eat. Plus, it will simplify your ordering process if you are ordering for a larger group. Certain cuisines are more accommodating to modifications, so it’s best to arm yourself with all the information possible and take the guesswork out of choosing food. For example, BBQ buffets can boast both light and dark meats, while salad bars can include vegetables, proteins, and other toppings that will ensure there’s something for everyone’s palate. Browse through a list of local caterers. What are their most popular items ordered from past customers? Do they have any menu recommendations for a group with your specific preferences?

Just remember that for either choice, too many options can overwhelm you and your group. The Balance suggests you keep menu options to a maximum of four food choices that allow for variety but urge people to decide want they want much quicker.

Plan for Setup

With a thoughtful and convenient display once your food arrives, you can encourage team-building and facilitate one-on-one conversations. Sharing food is a great way to encourage casual conversation and meaningful connections for your team, so think in advance about the setup. Schedule your food to arrive 15 minutes before the start time of your meeting or event, so you can set everything up beforehand. Know exactly where you plan to put the food out when it arrives. The ideal spot is one that doesn’t disrupt the agenda, but still allows for functional flow if people return to the station during the meeting. If you can, place food in two different areas to help divide the group and prevent throngs of hungry people from crowding one area at once.

Solicit Feedback

Lastly, don’t forget to solicit feedback from your group regarding the catering service. Use the same online polls you used to take orders, and ask your group to rate the food or leave comments. Keep their responses as a part of your list so you can look back the next time you need lunch ideas for a work meeting. If an order was particularly successful, you can quickly re-order the same meal on ezCater through your previous orders.

There are ways to execute a flawless work meeting even in the most urgent of time frames. Considering your specific office preferences and knowing how to streamline ordering so everyone gets what they need is just one way you’ll rock that next work lunch.

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Lauren Hamer

Written by:

Lauren Hamer

Lauren Hamer is a North Carolina based writer and entrepreneurial career consultant. She has crafted office management, workplace trends, and lifestyle content for clients including The Muse, Glassdoor, Yahoo!, Office Ninjas, and more. When she’s not writing about work or food at work, look for her in the kitchen making up recipes and flipping fry pans like she’s on an episode of “Chopped”.

Posted in: Food at WorkOffice Management

Tagged with: Catering, Food Ordering, Menu Planning