Greasy fries, wilted salads, long lines and servers with attitudes; not ideal conditions for your lunch break, but fairly typical of lunch out during the week. Rest assured that you do have other options. Like what? Consider starting a lunch club at your office.
What exactly is an office lunch club? Similar to the office potluck, lunch clubs consist of a group of people planning meals to share on designated days during the lunch hour at work. While typically more frequent than the usual potluck, a lunch club is an easy way to eat great (and healthier) food for lunch, socialize with people you know (and meet people you don’t know), extend your lunch hour (no driving or searching for parking spots necessary), and maybe even save a few bucks from your hard-earned paycheck. Sound intriguing? Follow the steps below and you could be on your way to foregoing fast food for lunch.
Assess your office kitchen/break room
This will help you consider the types of lunches you can serve with the amenities you have available (e.g., do you have a refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven, etc.?).
Recruit your members
Do you want to start small with just a handful of people or do you want to liven things up by including folks from outside your department? Determine the number of participants so meals can be planned as easily as possible. Also, decide how often your lunches will take place. The more people you have, the more often and varied your lunches can be. Think about rotating the responsibility for planning among your members or have two or three people in charge of scheduling all lunches.
Determine what’s for lunch—and how much
Consider things like whether people have food allergies or specific food choices (vegetarians, vegans or those on restricted diets). Take these things into account before lunch is served so no one goes hungry. Think about whether you want to limit your food to low-fat and low-calorie options only, and if you want to have theme-based lunches (think Italian, Mexican, etc.). Be sure to determine portions—and ensure all members are aware of what the portions are—so everyone actually gets lunch.
Decide on dishes
Whether or not you use paper or plastic plates or members bring utensils and dishes from home, be sure to plan for this in advance. If you decide on using paper or plastic, you could assign this to a member instead of food. Decide with members in advance if beverages will be included or if everyone is individually responsible for drinks.
Schedule your mealtime
Not everyone can break at the same time, so make sure you set aside enough time to serve lunch so all members are able to enjoy their hour. Be sure to assign someone from the club to be “on duty” to help serve food during the designated time frames.
This is a chance to try something new and have some fun at the office! If something doesn’t go well the first time, ask for input from your members regarding how you can do things differently the next time.
A lunch club is a great way to break out of the typical lunchtime conundrum—and have fun in the process! A few additional tips to ensure your club continues to run smoothly: don’t forget dessert and definitely don’t forget to invite the boss!