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Eating well at work: Meetings and events

Help keep attendes focused and full of energy.

Incorporating healthier food choices at workplace meetings is a fun, creative, and simple way to help keep employees healthy and let them know that you value their hard work. Many times the food provided at these events lacks nutritional value and could be substituted with food that is healthier and tastes great. Take a look at the sample lists below for ideas of healthy food choices that could be provided during office events. Remember to include an abundance of fruits and vegetables to help keep attendees focused and full of energy.


Quick tips

  • Offer fresh fruits and fresh, steamed, or baked vegetables
  • Have smaller pastries, doughnuts, or muffins or split large ones with a co-worker
  • Use smaller plates and make multiple trips through the line if you are still hungry
  • Be sure to include healthier vegetarian options that are not heavy on dairy, pastas, or fattening sauces
  • Include grilled, broiled, baked, or steamed foods and limit items that are fried or sautéed
  • Ask the catering company for special menus such as lower fat, heart healthy, reduced sodium, dressing/sauces on the side, prepared with no or light oil/butter, smaller portions.

Breakfast or brunch meetings

  • A variety of seasonal or local fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Yogurt
  • Granola with dried fruits
  • Bagels should be 3 1/2 inch diameter or less
  • Spreads such as low-fat cream cheese, jam, or jelly
  • Whole grain, low sugar cereals
  • Small or mini muffins or fruit bread
  • Fruit and nut granola bars
  • 100% whole grain breads such as toast, English muffins, and bagels
  • Fruit and vegetable smoothies
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Omelets with various vegetables
  • Low-fat breakfast meets such as turkey bacon or sausage
  • Choose foods that are baked, broiled, poached, grilled, roasted or steamed

If you’re short on time, try one of the following pre-selected menus at your next breakfast meeting:

Breakfast or brunch

Menu A Menu B
  • Assorted mini bagels, including wheat, oat, and fruit options
  • Various seasonal whole fruits
  • Low-fat cream cheese, jams, jellies, and hummus
  • Yogurt with granola and/or fruit
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Coffee, tea, milk, and water (use nonfat creamers)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Mini muffins
  • Fresh fruit (cut up)
  • Yogurt dip
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • Coffee, tea, milk, and water (use nonfat creamers)

Lunch or dinner meetings

  • A variety of seasonal or local fresh fruit
  • Broth– or vegetable-based low sodium soups
  • 100% whole grain breads
  • Sandwiches or a sandwich tray with various fresh vegetables, cheese, lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish) and low-fat spreads
  • Salads containing a variety of vegetables and fruits
  • Dressings on the side so that people can choose their own portions
  • Pastas with olive oil, tomato or other vegetable or herb-based sauces
  • Vegetarian alternatives such as bean-based soups and casseroles or vegetable lasagna
  • Serve entrees and side dishes with beans, peas, quinoa, and lentils
  • Choose foods that are baked, broiled, poached, grilled, roasted or steamed
  • Provide at least two vegetables, preferably seasoned with fresh herbs

If you’re short on time, try one of the following pre-selected menus at your next lunch or dinner meeting:

Lunch

Menu A Menu B
  • Vegetable platter
  • Healthy dips such as hummus, guacamole, and salsa
  • Bean or broth-based low-salt soups
  • Lean turkey, veggie, and/or tuna rollups
  • Fruit kabobs
  • Water, unsweetened tea, fresh lemonade, and coffee
  • Grilled or baked chicken sandwich on whole grain bread (mayonnaise, mustard, or herb spread on the side)
  • Grilled vegetable sandwich
  • Pretzels and baked chips
  • Sliced seasonal fruit
  • Green salad with oil and vinegar dressing on the side
  • Vegetable platter
  • Healthy dips such as hummus and guacamole
  • Water, unsweetened tea, fresh lemonade, and coffee

 

Dinner

Menu A Menu B
  • Baked fish, seasoned with herbs rather than salt
  • Vegetable lasagna
  • Steamed seasonal vegetables without butter
  • Brown rice or quinoa
  • Green salad with dressing on the side
  • Water, unsweetened tea, fresh lemonade, and coffee
  • Baked chicken, seasoned with herbs rather than salt
  • Vegetable kabobs
  • Spinach salad
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Whole grain rolls
  • Water, unsweetened tea, fresh lemonade, and coffee

Snacks, desserts, and/or light refreshments

Snacks:

  • Bite-sized fruits and vegetables in-season like grapes, cherries, strawberries, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli florets
  • Whole, fresh fruits like apples or bananas.
  • cut-up fresh fruits including honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
  • Pre-packaged fruit cups (in juice, not syrup) or dried fruits, when refrigeration is not available
  • Cut-up fresh vegetables such as celery, squash, and bell peppers
  • Pretzels or popcorn
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Baked tortilla chips and salsa
  • Healthy dips and spreads such as mustards, hummus, salsa, or fresh guacamole

Desserts:

  • Fruit platters with yogurt dip or dark chocolate dip
  • Petite or mini desserts
  • Pretzels or popcorn
  • No sugar added frozen yogurt or sorbets
  • Dark chocolate treats
  • Air popped popcorn with no added butter or salt
  • Light whipped cream toppings or dips

If you’re short on time, try one of the following pre-selected menus at your next event with snacks and desserts:

Snacks and desserts

Menu A Menu B
  • Fruit platters with yogurt dip or dark chocolate dip
  • Vegetable platter
  • Petite or mini desserts
  • Pretzels or popcorn
  • No sugar added frozen yogurt or sorbet
  • Dark chocolate treats
  • Petite or mini desserts
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Fresh fruit with yogurt dip
  • Fresh strawberries and light whipped cream


Potluck meals

Another fun way to enjoy food at work is to have potluck meals where everyone brings a food item to share. When having people sign up to bring things, encourage them to bring a wide variety of foods including lots of fruits and vegetables. If you think it will be hard to get people to bring healthful foods on their own, try having a list of suggested foods that people can sign up to bring. People may not have been able to come up with some options on their own and appreciate having things to choose from. Check out the list below for some ideas of things people could bring to a potluck meal.

  • Salad with greens and fresh fruits and vegetables with dressing on the side
  • Deli sandwiches with lean, low sodium meats
  • Vegetable trays with fresh vegetables
  • Healthy dips such as hummus, salsa, and guacamole
  • Casseroles with vegetables
  • Fruit salads with cut up fresh fruits
  • Whole fruits
  • Dark chocolate
  • Trail mixes
  • Steamed vegetables such as broccoli, carrots or corn
  • Pasta salad with vinaigrette dressing and lots of vegetables
  • Potatoes that are baked with herbs
  • Rice dishes that are low in sodium and fat
  • Pastas with red or herb sauces

Reviewed February 18, 2016.