By Candice Wagener

Now that there are opportunities to meet in person at the workplace once again, it’s time to start thinking about those lunch meetings. Any time you have a longer meeting or all-day conference on site, your guests will appreciate a meal or snacks to keep them engaged and fueled up for the longer haul. In addition to considering healthier foods, you’ll also want to be mindful of dietary restrictions, as well as safety precautions and mitigating risk. We’ve rounded up some creative catering ideas that will help make your next event unforgettable.


Spend any amount of time scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram and you are sure to spy a cheese board or two. You can keep it simple with a basic variety of cheese, meat and crackers. However, the basic cheese board knows no limits! Create a cultural roadmap across your board with Italian specialties like capicola, Spanish delights like Serrano ham, any number of pickled items from places like Germany or Korea, and pita bread with olives and hummus from Greece. You could even have some regional fun, comparing cheeses from California, Vermont, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

Also, don’t hold yourself to cheese and charcuterie. Why not do a brunch board, with mini waffles and toppings like fresh fruit, hazelnut spread, whipped cream or almond butter? Add in breakfast sausages, yogurt and hard-boiled eggs, and you’ll be accommodating a variety of taste buds.


Bars are another way to have some fun with your meals. Who wouldn’t love an avocado toast bar? Remember to include a nice variety of breads, especially a gluten-free option. If you’re using a catering service, you could enlist them to dress the toasts with avocado, and then have attendees walk down the line to add garnishes like radishes, microgreens, seasonings and eggs.

If you’ve got a meeting that goes later in the day, introduce a dessert bar. Ideas range from fresh fruit and fancy chocolate to build-your-own sundaes, cookie sandwiches or parfaits (also a great idea for breakfast). Get creative!


Boxed lunches are definitely an old standby in catered events, and more so today due to the precautions planners are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but don’t let them get stale. Offer sandwiches with a nice variety of breads, vegetarian/vegan options and unique condiments. Instead of the standard bag of chips, why not substitute a side of pasta salad, fruit salad or green salad?

You could also send out boxed salads, giving attendees options on proteins (grilled chicken, salmon or tofu), vegetables (roasted beets, sweet potatoes or sliced radishes) and other fun toppings (pepitas, sunflower seeds, a variety of nuts and berries).


Another craze that is worthy of catering consideration are customizable bowls. These could very easily be individually packaged: have everyone choose a grain or veggie bowl of their choice (include greens, rice, quinoa as base options),
then have individual packages of proteins (tofu, chicken, beans), condiments (nut butter, hummus, dressing), and roasted vegetables. Attendees can pick and choose what works for them.

Another bowl idea that is all the rage? Poke! (Poke is a dish of raw, marinated fish served with rice and vegetables.) If you have a poke restaurant near you, see if you can partner with them to provide a fun twist to your next work lunch.


Speaking of partnering with local restaurants, if you aren’t tied down to a specific catering company, why not outsource the meal from one of your local restaurants? It’s a win-win! Bring a food truck on the premises or order from one of the independent restaurants in your area. Tacos, gourmet sub sandwiches, gyros, sushi or pho — all could translate well into your next lunch event. Or enlist your favorite restaurant to do a number of appetizers and desserts. Your attendees will be excited to indulge in some local eats and the restaurant will be grateful for your business.

You can make the most of any event by providing some memorable meals that will easily please most everyone with some thoughtful planning ahead. Oftentimes, attendees are just grateful to have options for a fulfilling meal when they attend a work event, but you can go above and beyond by considering different dietary needs, safety precautions, and fueling their energy while still providing a very delicious and enjoyable spread.