Putting together a catering order on an office budget requires a fair amount of planning, imagination, and math. If you don’t have time for that, we’ve gathered some of our favorite ideas so that your colleagues and clients can eat well, even on a budget. Check out these cheap lunch ideas to inspire your next catering menu for the office.
1. Wonton Soup
Golden, aromatic broth is poured over a bowl of egg noodles and silky wontons filled with juicy pork and shrimp. A handful of scallions adds freshness. (Average price $7.99)
2. Kabab Roll
Kabab skewers are typically served over a bed of scented rice. But this portable version is just as satisfying. Buttery, pan-fried flatbread—paratha—is stuffed with grilled beef, chicken, lamb, or vegetables. (Average price $7.99)
3. Grain Bowl
Want other ideas for a cheap office lunch? Try a catering spread of grain bowls, which look super impressive at business meetings. The bowls start with grains like chewy farro or nutty quinoa. This is layered with ingredients like fanned-out avocado, charred corn, and smoky-sweet Korean short ribs. (Average price $7.63)
4. Mexican Torta
People seldom think of tortas when looking for sandwiches—even though tortas make pretty mean sandwiches: Griddled bread with a heap of crisp meats, cool avocado, and pickled toppings. Every bite features hot strings of cheese. (Average price $7.33)
A buffet of stir-fries is one of our favorite ideas for building a quick and cheap lunch menu for the office. This casual catering format lets your coworkers mingle while they help themselves to a lineup of hot, fragrant dishes like smoky chow fun with browned beef, bacon fried rice, or pad thai noodles with tons of spring veggies. (Average price $7.76)
If your office has made a healthy resolution this year, go for a hearty group salad. These days you’ll find plenty of exciting salad toppings like chewy grains, roasted brussels sprouts, pears, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Order sides of protein for the meat eaters, like salmon, steak, or caramelized grilled chicken. (Average price $7.13)
7. Classic American Sandwich
Sometimes it’s easier to run a meeting without plates and forks. For these occasions, try a classic sandwich platter. If you can’t decide, one of our favorite sandwiches is the marbled pastrami on rye bread. A smear of mustard or Russian dressing adds a pleasant punch. (Average price $7.08)
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8. Indian-Style Sandwich (“Naanwiches”)
For a different kind of sandwich, try this creation: soft naan flatbread is filled with fiery, aromatic, and creamy Indian curries like chicken tikka masala and lamb vindaloo. (Average price $7.82)
9. Dim Sum
Not many cheap lunch ideas involve mouthwatering dim sum—but your office probably won’t mind tucking into a catering spread of these Cantonese bites. Try dishes like pan-fried turnip cakes, tender pork-filled pastries, and smooth rice noodle wraps doused in sweet, seasoned soy sauce. (Average price $4.67)
The customizable taco is one of our most popular lunch ideas for feeding groups with special dietary requirements. Plus, it’s a cheap catering option. Think soft corn tortillas folded around fillings like braised beef or grilled steak. Vegetarians can enjoy tacos made with ingredients like caramelized mushrooms and crispy potatoes. (Average price $2.92)
We’re obsessed with burgers: Crisp patty with a juicy interior. The bun toasted and buttered. A slice of sharp cheddar. Whether you want burgers made of beef or veggies, remember to get sides of airy-light onion rings and fries. (Average price $4.99)
Ordering pizza is one of our favorite lunch ideas for quick and cheap catering. Because it takes just minutes to order pizza for the whole gang. And if they love a crisp crust, delicious toppings, and the pull of hot, melty cheese, this is definitely for them. (Average price $6.86)
Finding it hard to land on a new dish, week after week, for your clients or coworkers? Try the Venezuelan arepa, a grilled or fried cornmeal cake stuffed with ingredients like shredded beef, cheese, black beans, and slices of sweet plantain. (Average price $5.28)
14. Asian Finger Foods
While finger foods aren’t much of a lunch, they make addictive afternoon snacks. If you’re new to these snacks, try golden-fried Taiwanese popcorn chicken, which is dusted with a special seasoning. Or go for other flavor bombs, like juicy lettuce cups, spring rolls, and shrimp toast. Add a noodle dish to create a filling meal. (Average price $5.99)
If you want to impress your clients with global flavors, go for a mix of curries. Whether you order Indian or Sri Lankan or Japanese curries, the fragrant spices ensure flavor in every bite. (Prices range depending on the cuisine, but you’ll find many choices under $8).
16. Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
If you’re looking for something light but nourishing, try this Vietnamese noodle soup. Sweet herbs like Thai basil and cilantro scent the delicate, concentrated broth. Choose from toppings like beef brisket, chicken, or meatballs. (Average price $7.12)
Use these lunch ideas throughout the week to order cheap but delicious catering spreads for your office. We hope these tasty eats make a difference in everyone’s day.
Prices are based on ezCater data on the average cost for a single serving.
Ready to order a cheap catering spread for your lunch meeting?