Oct 24 2017
Lauren Hamer
4 Minutes to read

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But sometimes that’s exactly what an office needs. As Forbes notes, offering free food is a strategy that builds camaraderie and loyalty while also boosting productivity. But, of course, someone has to place that order each week. There’s a balance to achieve. How do you find something that will appeal to everyone, but won’t be a chore for you? A stack of pizza boxes every Friday might be easy, but that probably won’t excite your team. Here are some ideas for using recurring catering orders to simplify your workload, while still building fun, reliable, and delicious meals for your team.

Build-Your-Own Bars

The easiest way to revamp your weekly catering order is to morph your orders into a customizable food bar. A build-your-own bar is a perfect solution for recurring orders because you can order the same ingredients each week. Everyone can customize their lunch to their preference. And it’s a safe option for an office with a variety of dietary preferences. Mediterranean, Mexican, and barbecue are each well suited to build-your-own bars. And you know there will be something for everyone.

Let your team customize their lunch with a build your own bar

Another option is to allow a build-a-box order. Each week, individuals can create their own custom box and send you their choices a few days before you have to place the order. That means they don’t have to eat the same thing every week (unless they want to). And it means the pressure is off you decide between the chips, fresh fruit, or a salad.

Use a Rotating Caterer List

If you’re setting up a weekly catering order, it may seem limiting to order from just one caterer. But if you can create a list of preferred vendors, you can add variety to your orders. Maybe your office has relationships with four trusty caterers. You can establish recurring orders with each one. Week one might be from your favorite Thai place, while the next week’s lunch menu is from the local Italian deli. Week three is from the taco joint, and it’s falafel to round out the month. Review your notes and feedback from your team to create a rotating list of available caterers, and then set up recurring orders each month.

Theme It Out

Think outside the pizza box and diversify your routine with fun food themes. Use your list of standby food orders to incorporate a spread pertaining to a theme. Weekly (or monthly) themes like “Mexican fiesta,” “summer barbeque,” or “vegetarian ventures” are easily customized to create an order everyone will enjoy. Your trustworthy sandwich shop might tweak your weekly catering spread for a “southern comfort theme” by incorporating barbeque pork, sandwich rolls, pecan pie, and mac and cheese. The proportions, delivery time, and location of your order will remain unchanged, but the food order will fluctuate.  Get everyone involved too. Ask the team to provide recommendations to help you establish a list.

Ask your caterer for advice on how to change-up the spread. What are some other popular dishes they offer that your office has yet to try? You may be missing out on exciting dishes by sticking to the same old thing each week.

Take It Outside

Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to spice up your weekly order. Set up the office meal somewhere your team usually doesn’t get to during the week like a meeting room on different floor or the reception area with the comfy seats. Even better, take it outside to dine al fresco. Your weekly order stays the same, so implementing this trick doesn’t add anything else to your normal to-do list, except setting up in a different spot.

The key to changing up your weekly catering is incorporating a few unpredictable elements into your normal routine. These are just a few easy examples of how you can plan a reliable meal that your whole team will crave week after week.

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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, Lunch, Lunch and Learn