Five Tips for Catering Office Meetings and Lunches

18 Nov 2021

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If you've ever been in charge of catering an office meeting, you know how organizing even a simple lunch can take over your already packed to-do list. Fortunately, with a little preparation upfront (and the help of an excellent caterer), you can put together an awesome office meal with minimal effort. Here are some tips to help you streamline the office catering process.

Set (and stick to) a deadline.

A badly-organized lunch has a way of expanding to overtake important meeting time. When putting together the meeting schedule, make sure you account for the presence of food. For example, you'll want to have your caterer arrive early enough so that the food is all ready at least five minutes before people start showing up. You should probably schedule the first 20 minutes of the meeting for lunch and small talk/socializing. If you absolutely need to discuss business during this time, try to focus on light topics that don't require a lot of notetaking. Once people have finished eating, schedule a short break to tidy up and then you can dive into the more heavily business-oriented portion of the meeting.

Get a final headcount.

Ending a lunch meeting with a ton of uneaten food is bad. Running out of food before everybody gets served is even worse. Before you plan your catered lunch meeting, try to get a rough count of how many you expect to attend. An email asking folks to RSVP and select what they would like to eat (see below) can handle a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Offer options for everybody.

Want to make sure you've got something available for everybody? First off, avoid the rookie mistake of simply asking folks, "What would you like to eat?" or you'll find yourself drowning in a deluge of requests. Instead, you should narrow down the options beforehand and provide a few clear choices.
That said, you want to make sure the choices you provide are diverse enough to please the crowd, including any vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, and allergy-related options. If you go with a caterer that provides prepackaged lunches, this can usually be handled easily as the choices are already laid out. Alternatively, you might opt to go with a buffet-style meal that lets diners make their own culinary choices.

Don't neglect the setup.

Without proper organization, even the simplest dining options can quickly devolve into a chaotic bottleneck. Make sure you set the food up in a place that's open enough to let the line flow smoothly. If your catering is buffet-style, you might consider setting things up on the opposite side of the room so that people who get up for more food won't disrupt the meeting.
You should also consider what you'll be serving and make sure you provide enough seats and table room for everybody. No matter how delicious the food is, folks are going to grumble if they're forced to awkwardly balance a plate on their laps, especially while they're trying to take notes or pay attention to a speaker.

Satisfy the sweet tooth.

As long as you're offering some healthy options, why not let folks cap off their meal with a delicious treat? Chocolate chip cookies can generate an awful lot of goodwill...

Hopefully these tips will help make the arduous chore of organizing your next office lunch meeting a bit more manageable. And if you're looking to take a little more of the meal-planning chore off of your plate, Bolay's got you covered with prebuilt Chef Bols and Party Packs or our Ala Carte Catering Platters.
 

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