Lunch and learns are a great opportunity to develop your team’s skills and training. And as Entrepreneur points out, they are a proven way to bridge the gap between the various age groups in your office. And they even increase employee satisfaction. But all too often the “learn” portion gets all the attention. The “lunch” part doesn’t have to be a boring after thought. It’s time to think outside of the boxed lunch. Here are 50 lunch and learn food ideas to help you break out of your regular routine.
Lunch and Learn Food Ideas
1. Breakfast for Lunch
It’s hard not to love a work event serving waffles and pancakes. Breakfast food is an easy crowd-pleaser that everyone will enjoy at any time of the day.
2. Caribbean Food Ideas
Between roti, jerk chicken, and fried plantains, Caribbean food offers limitless options for a bold, flavorful, and not-your-average lunch and learn.
3. Kathi Rolls
The spicy, craveable flavors of Indian food will kick up any lunch and learn. Kathi rolls take your favorite Indian dishes, like chickpeas and cauliflower sabzi, and wrap them up in a thick, sturdy paratha flatbread.
Cheese and chicken-filled tortillas are an easy win, especially when paired with various salsas and guacamole. This lunch and learn food idea takes things up a notch when you try fillings like blue cheese and steak, or french fries and bacon.
5. Fajita Bar
Sizzling plates of chicken, beef, and grilled vegetables plus tortillas are a perfect combination. Fajita bars are a nice way to give your staffers the chance to customize their meal for themselves, so everyone is happy with their lunch.
Sushi is a healthy option that allows for plenty of variety. You can choose a mix of traditional rolls, like avocado and tuna, while also testing out a few specialty styles, like the rainbow roll.
7. Baked Potato Bar
A potato is an excellent canvas for practically any topping. Set up a bar and let your team have at it with bacon, cheese, sour cream, or roasted vegetables.
8. Gourmet Pizza Party
Why not channel your inner kids’ birthday party and order a few pies? Cheese and pepperoni are yesterday’s news. Opt, instead, for a few non-traditional options with toppings like arugula, buffalo chicken, or ranch dressing.
9. Stuffed Bell Peppers
Peppers are a flavorful delivery mechanism for a spiced meat, rice, or lentil filling. And you can find them available across many different kinds of cuisines, from French to Ethiopian.
10. Banh Mi
Banh mi is a totally upgraded sandwich. The Vietnamese classic involves a French baguette stuffed with meat, pickled radishes and carrots, a slick of spicy mayo, and cilantro for an herbaceous kick.
Noodle dishes that can be served cold or at room temperature, like sesame noodles or soba, are an easy, no-fuss solution that always delivers on flavor.
12. Charcuterie Platter
Cured meat and cheese is a simple but high-end lunch and learn food idea. Many caterers offer premade platters that include bread and crackers, so you have plenty to munch on. Charcuterie is also super clean. There are no sauces or dressings that might spill on notebooks.
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13. Fresh Fruit and Cheese
For a slightly healthier variation on the cheese and meat platter try adding fruit and cheese. They are always a great match and an easy lunch to pull off.
Meatball-only shops are on the rise, and they make for the perfect lunch and learn meal. Meatballs are filling. They can be served over rice, pasta, or a salad. And, they can come filled with everything from lentils to turkey, so you can accommodate lots of different preferences.
15. Po’ Boys
The New Orleans staple of fried seafood, mayo, and lettuce smushed between French bread takes the notion of the sandwich to a completely higher level. Don’t forget to order potato chips on the side to complete the meal.
The Spanish-meets-French flavors of jambalaya are always deeply satisfying. The traditional version includes seafood, of course. But to appeal to various tastes and restrictions, you can always order a few types with different meats and veggies.
17. Fried Chicken
For a more indulgent lunch, a crispy platter of fried chicken is guaranteed to draw a crowd. The more portable fried chicken sandwich works if you’re grabbing lunch boxes for a smaller group.
These herb-filled chickpea fritters are a perennial favorite among vegans. But they are hearty enough to equally satisfy the meat lovers. Serve with a bright Israeli salad, hummus, tahini sauce, hot sauce, and pitas for a powerfully flavorful bite in a single pocket.
Empanadas are the ideal lunch and learn food. They pack a big punch in a single serving. They come with various fillings, like chicken, crab, shrimp, and they’re easy to eat. That way your trainees can munch while taking notes.
Serve up a tray of smoky grilled lamb and beef skewers. For vegetarians, add kebabs with eggplant, mushrooms, and peppers. This lunch and learn food idea will add summer barbecue vibes to your presentation. Who can argue that?
21. Salad Toss
Salads don’t have to be stale bits of lettuce tossed in creamy bottled dressing. There are tons of caterers taking salads to the next level. Try out salads with ingredients like watermelon, freshly grated Parmesan, and grilled shrimp for a nice change of pace.
It’s hard not to love a burger in snackable form. Order an assortment to satisfy everyone. There are so many variations, from pulled pork to chicken salad, and even veggie burgers. When you have a few choices, people can mix and match.
Even if your office isn’t located in a barbecue capital like Austin or Kansas City, there are plenty of local caterers who will bring the pit right to your boardroom. Order a few slabs of ribs, sausage, and sides, and instantly become the hero of the office.
24. Chicken Parm
It’s hard to hate on any food that comes breaded, fried, and topped with cheese and tomato sauce. Eggplant Parmesan, too, is a great choice for vegetarians. Sandwiched into sub roll, chicken or eggplant parmesan turns into an even easier lunch and learn food idea.
This Thai dish involves chili, lime, and herb rubbed meat wrapped in lettuce hits. It’s salty, tangy, spicy, and it just happens to be pretty nutritious. So call that a lunch and learn win.
French crepes are endlessly versatile. Top them with eggs, cheese, chocolate, or jam, and the pairings always seem to work. Crepes are often made fresh-to-order. But many caterers will carefully package them up, so by the time they make it to your office, they still taste fresh and piping hot off the pan.
A constant favorite of Greek cuisine, Spanakopita involves rich, flaky layers of puff pastry filled to the brim with spinach and cheese. Serve with classic Greek sides like moussaka (minced beef and eggplant), and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves).
28. Grain Bowls
Grain bowls are one of the more popular menu items right now, as Zagat points out. And it’s for good reason. In a single, flavorful dish, you get a whole meal, complete with a carb, a protein, a vegetable, and a sauce. Try out a build-your-own grain bowl bar for a healthy take on a lunch and learn.
On a chilly day, why not go for everyone’s favorite cold-weather cure? But think beyond the normal tomato soup option. Try wild rice and mushroom, jambalaya, or the sausage-filled Italian wedding soup. Even better, order bread bowls, so people can have a post-lunch snack.
Gyros are the Greek take on a wrap. Each one envelopes charred chunks of delicious meat and cooling tzatziki sauce in between a fluffy wrap. There are different varieties to shake things up.
Poke, or raw fish mixed up with vegetables and seasonings, served over rice, is without a doubt the biggest lunch trend of the past few years. It’s also super light and healthy. That way it won’t weigh people down when they’re trying to stay alert during your lunch and learn’s presentation.
When you think Italian comfort food, risotto should be at the top of the list. It can be made easily for big groups, and you can get it with almost whatever you want to be mixed in. For risotto in a more portable form, try arancini, deliciously fried rice balls.
33. Szechuan Food Ideas
These days, there are so many choices for great, full-flavored takes on Chinese cuisine. For a spicy and tasty lunch, try the chili-coated chicken or any variety of noodle dishes.
Dim sum is always a fun choice. Mix it up with siu mai (open-topped dumplings) or xiao long bao (soup dumplings). Even dessert dumplings are a nice treat for a lunch and learn.
Combine rice, meat, vegetables, and chili sauce. It sounds like a simple formula. But bibimbap is one the more deeply satisfying staples of Korean cuisine. Plus it makes for a nice lunch bowl.
36. Sushi Burritos
The latest craze in sushi wraps is raw fish and rice in a seaweed burrito. This seriously ups the portability factor (and the wow factor). Everyone can enjoy your presentation without having to constantly fiddle with chopsticks.
A perennial staple of birthday parties and food trucks, the taco is a simple, perfect dish that can take on endless fillings and permutations. What’s great is that you can try all the favorites like, Korean barbecue, ahi tuna, even Thai peanut chicken. Or you can get assorted fixings and let everyone make their own new version.
38. German Food Ideas
The German food canon brings a lot to the table. There’s crispy breaded schnitzel, cumin and pepper-spiked sausages, and so many others. German food includes plenty of other cheese-filled and pickled delights that are definite crowd-pleasers.
39. Savory Pie
Everyone can agree that most foods taste great encased in a buttery crust. So why not try ordering an assortment of savory pies for the office? The options are limitless. There’s shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie, or even a simple tomato pie. Slice them up, and let people mix and match slices according to their tastes.
The Japanese take on a rice bowl, donburi delivers big satisfaction in one serving. With sticky, vinegared rice overlain with toppings like chicken katsu and salmon teriyaki, it’s sure to keep everybody full — but not overstuffed — until the end of the workday.
41. Mac & Cheese
Homemade macaroni and cheese has come a long way from the boxed versions. These days, you can find it in dozens of varieties. It’s the perfect lunchtime comfort food. Try versions with Alfredo sauce, barbecue, or tomato sauce and pepperoni.
Tamales are an easy-to-eat treat. The combination of corn, beans, and meat makes for the perfect single-serving lunch and learn food idea. Also, they make clean-up super easy. Once your presentation is finished, all you have to discard is the husk.
If you’re looking for tacos with an edge, think taquitos. They are small, fried, and rolled tight. These crunchy morsels will hit the spot across the board.
Is paella Spain’s greatest contribution to the communal food catalog? It’s hard to say, but you will get all the credit for supplying it to your team. The wide pan filled with saffron-tinged rice, cumin, and seafood is a perfect out-of-the-box meal.
For something different in Indian food, try chaat. It’s the snacking category of Indian food that includes various spicy, tangy creations. Order up samosas, papdi chat (crackers covered in chutney and yogurt), and aloo tikki (fried potato fritters).
46. Lobster Rolls
Your lunch and learn will be unforgettable if you serve up a heavenly, buttery treat topped with lobster. It may seem decadent, but the New England classic is actually much more affordable in a catering order than for one-off purchases.
47. Ethiopian Food Ideas
Ethiopian food is teeming with tasty, well-spiced stewed meats and vegetables. And it’s all tied together by sour, tangy injera bread. Try dishes like Afiza, a cold green lentil salad. Or sample Gomen, collard greens stewed with ginger and garlic.
Arepas are a classic Venezuelan street food. They are savory pockets of corn filled with various ingredients. They come with plantains, avocado, black beans, and chicken.
Moroccan food is always satisfying, but never overly rich. That’s why it’s the perfect lunch and learn food idea. Fluffy couscous and bright tagines make up the base, and then you can build your meal from there.
One of the latest Asian street foods to find a captive audience in America, bing is rice flour crepes stuffed with fillings. Try bing with eggs, green beans, pork, or chili paste. Your presentation will definitely be a hit with a meal like that.
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