Although corporate boxed lunches have been many offices’ go-to choice for catering over the years, they aren’t usually anything to get excited about. The same old sandwiches and chips aren’t going to be much of an enticing option for many offices. If you’re planning a business event and trying to avoid corporate boxed lunch catering for this or any reason, you’re in luck. There are lots of new twists on the traditional way to get lunch to a corporate team.
Here, we’ll discuss your different alternatives to corporate boxed lunches, and we’ll mention our extensive offerings here at Butler’s Pantry, so if you need a place to start looking for an experienced and established caterer, you’ll have a great option with us. But before we get into all that, it’s important to establish what corporate boxed lunches are in the first place. We’ll describe them and their pros and cons in the following sections.
What is corporate boxed lunch catering usually like?
Most people are fairly familiar with this style of meal. However, if you’ve never experienced traditional corporate boxed lunch catering, let us set the scene. You’ve got individual portions contained in small boxes or other containers. Some corporate boxed lunch catering services will label each box with the recipient’s name, while others will give you a certain amount of each option and leave it up to you to distribute them properly.
Typical corporate boxed lunches include a sandwich, one or two sides, and possibly a dessert. There are definitely twists on this formula out there, but that’s the most common menu by far. What you can choose on the sandwich or as the sides is usually pretty basic fare. That way, most everybody can find something to enjoy, even if it’s not very exciting.
Many caterers can accommodate different dietary needs and preferences with their corporate boxed lunches, too. They just need to be made aware of those needs ahead of time.
Benefits of Corporate Boxed Lunch Catering
There are definitely some upsides to choosing this type of corporate boxed lunches. We’ll go through each of them in some detail in the following sections.
It can be easier to get everyone their own choice this way, and you’ll save on labor costs. Everyone simply picks up their box and gets straight to the meal, no servers involved. The meals are easy to order and easy to deliver. That’s a big plus for those looking for a no-fuss catering experience.
For those who are worried about sanitary conditions, this is a big benefit of corporate boxed lunch catering. Buffets have everyone picking through the same food, but corporate boxed lunches are prepared specifically for one person only. So, there’s less of a concern about other people’s germs getting into your lunch. There are, of course, many ways to mitigate those sanitary concerns with buffet-style corporate catering, but boxed lunches take care of it for you.
Another element you might not initially consider is the flow of your event. Are you simply providing lunch to encourage conversation and bonding between your teammates, or are you going to be having a presentation or other business to attend to during lunch? If you don’t want people to be getting up during the meeting, then boxed lunches can keep them at their seats. Everything they need is in the box — main course, sides, utensils, napkins, and sometimes even dessert.
Having everything in one place saves on space requirements, too. You simply have to pass out the boxes to the right people or place them where everyone can grab their own. This makes boxed lunches adaptable to a lot of different kinds of venues — you don’t need a specific kind of space for them.
If you’re not going with corporate boxed lunch catering and opting instead for a buffet, you’ll have to find a place to lay out all the food options where people can form a line and go through it. Avoiding all that is much quicker with boxed lunches, too.
Drawbacks of Corporate Boxed Lunch Catering
All of the benefits we just listed about this style of corporate catering are still true, and it can meet the needs of many organizations. However, there are also negative qualities to traditional corporate boxed lunches. Weigh the cons in the following sections.
A big downside for some is the lack of choices. Most corporate boxed lunch catering options will only have a few, basic options for sandwiches and the same sides and desserts for everyone. So, there’s very little customization possible, and if you’re looking for a more unique menu, you’re not going to find much innovation with most corporate boxed lunch catering services. They tend to stick to tried-and-true menus, which can sometimes end up a bit bland.
Another one of the cons associated with corporate boxed lunches is the sustainability component. Having that many individual boxes thrown away at the end of the meal can add up to a significant amount of waste. Plus, there’s all the packaging within the boxes. You might have a cup for fruit, plastic utensils, and other bags inside just one box. A buffet, on the other hand, is going to have a lot less packaging because individual portions aren’t separated out until people’s plates are filled, either by a server or by the guests themselves.
Doesn’t Feel Special
Your team will appreciate a tasty lunch in any form, but the boxes aren’t exactly the most visually appealing presentation. They might bring to mind elementary school lunch boxes rather than professional sophistication. Of course, not all events need to have food that impresses the attendees, but if you’re looking to create a special menu that’s visually appealing, boxed lunches are probably not your best bet.
What are some alternatives to corporate boxed lunch catering?
The convenience and ease of boxed lunches for corporate events might be hard to give up if you’re used to catering your events this way. Here, though, we’ll take you through the other ways you can still have the hassle-free elements of corporate boxed lunches while upgrading other parts of the experience. We’ll also go over other ways to cater your corporate event that are farther removed from the boxed lunch paradigm.
It’s all about getting creative in order to meet the needs of your guests and event. Don’t confine yourself to corporate boxed lunch catering if it’s not working for you anymore — you might even ditch the idea of a lunch meeting or event altogether. With some of these other ideas, you can customize your catering to what will best accomplish your goals for the event.
Let’s start with one of those options that can be an easy switch for more formal conferences or meetings.
Instead of corporate boxed lunches being delivered to your venue or your team sending someone to pick them up, this style of catering brings all the food and service you need straight to you. You’ll have all the help you need readily available to pull off your event without a hitch.
Keep in mind that if you’re looking for hot lunch fare, your best bet is one of the buffet options. Most corporate boxed lunches are cold by design. Making sure the warm menu items stay hot until your attendees sit down to eat is easier when there’s a dedicated serving staff.
Of course, the formality you need from your caterer will depend on your event. If you want to treat your employees or guests to more personalized service, you can have your choice of caterer provide servers for your event. That extra care shown to attendees leaves a lasting impression of your attention to their experience, and it’s not something you’ll achieve with corporate boxed lunch catering.
An added bonus is that there’s a dedicated staff to clean up once the meal is over. It’s not always easy to remind people to clean up after themselves, and they might not be aware that’s the expectation. When you hire professional service for your event, they’ll take care of all the set up and clean up. That leaves you and your team more time for collaboration and camaraderie.
This option clearly has a lot of similarities to what we discussed in the previous section, but there are a few important differences to keep in mind.
The first is that you’ll save quite a bit by not having servers. You can get all the benefits of having a wide selection of food in the buffet, but your team or guests will be able to make their own plates. That makes it a more flexible choice for lots of organizations, especially when compared to corporate boxed lunches.
Of course, it also means you’ll be on the hook for setting up all the different food as well as cleaning up once everyone’s finished eating. If there are leftovers, you’ll need a plan for that, too. Sending extras home with your team can be a nice little treat to round out the day, so it’s an option to consider. This is one way buffet catering is a big departure from corporate boxed lunches. With the latter, you’re getting one portion for each person, so there shouldn’t be any food waste at the end of the meal. Buffets require you to do a little more guesswork on how much food to order, and your guests will probably eat more, especially if it’s self-serve.
Along with those specific drawbacks, the regular downsides to a buffet-style meal apply here, too. You’ll need to have space to set everything out, which is sometimes an issue in cramped conference rooms. Make a plan for this beforehand so that there aren’t any surprise snafus on the day of your lunch.
Some events don’t need a full meal. In those cases, corporate boxed lunches wouldn’t be an appropriate choice. For example, if you’re planning a morning meeting or conference, you might only need coffee, tea, and maybe a few light options to tide your team over until lunch. Or, you might be hosting an afternoon event where a meal is not necessary, but you’d like to have some baked good options there just to make it feel more festive or to offer extra hospitality. Even a selection of appetizers might be the best fit for some events.
Don’t limit yourself to only lunch meetings because you think corporate boxed lunch catering is your only option. You can partner with a catering company to create the right menu for your occasion, no matter what it is. The right vendor will offer flexible options to suit your needs. So, you should definitely explore the timing and type of event that will best accomplish your goals. Offering lunch is a great display of hospitality and appreciation, but there are lots of other ways to do that, too. Find the one that works best for your team.
Choose the best corporate catering option for your next event.
All in all, there are still a lot of benefits to choosing corporate boxed lunch catering for your next event. It can be a cost effective choice for lots of organizations, and the no-frills nature of these meals can make for an efficient and easy experience for your team. You won’t need a lot of space or time to set up something more elaborate, like a buffet, and that means if you want to start a meeting while people are eating, you’ll likely have more time when you choose boxed lunches.
However, we hope you’re now aware of all the different alternatives to corporate boxed lunches that are out there. If you’d like a more sustainable and more impressive option, explore our corporate collections here at Butler’s Pantry. We have both hot and cold options perfect for your next lunch meeting, and you can choose from our different offerings to create the right menu for your group. And if you’d like even more elaborate corporate catering, we would love to have a conversation about a custom solution for your event. Don’t hesitate to reach out!