Tips and Ideas for Budget-Friendly, Healthy Office Spreads
Planning an office breakfast, lunch or meeting? You may think you have few choices that both fit your budget and are healthy. Your regular go-to's may be pizza and doughnuts, which are cheap and easy. They are also some of the worst things you can feed your staff. These high sugar carbs lead to glucose crashes that may make people fill weak and irritable, which is not the outcome you want for your staff.
When planning what’s on the menu for your event, there are alternatives that give employees energy and valuable nutrients but are also convenient to serve and cost effective. It’s been proven that healthier eating at work improves productivity. If you are already on board with offering healthy snacks, extend that sentiment to your office events. Plus, there is a good chance your staff wants healthier options. In fact, an Eating Out in Australia report found that the desire for healthier options by Australians is increasing with healthy eating concepts growing in popularity by over 14 percent. So, healthy options aren’t just better for employees, they will probably appreciate something fresh versus more greasy pizza.
To help you with your event, we are sharing some of our favourite ideas and tips for a healthy, tasty food spread that will delight employees and keep your budget in check.
Get Artsy with Fruit
Presentation is often the key in making food look delicious. It’s hard to resist a spread that looks artistic and delectable. That's exactly what you can do with fruit, which is much more tempting with a little creativity versus just going for slices on a plate. Traditional fruit bowls are boring, too. Whole fruits are not a good option either, as they are hard to eat, messy and noisy. They get passed up because the eater sees inconvenience. It becomes a big waste, which means it's dollars in the trash.
Creating artistic arrangements or fruit sculptures is sure to grab their attention and start conversations. It makes the fruit accessible and easy to pick up and eat. They can choose which pieces they want with toothpicks, which is much easier than trying to deal with a bowl of fruit. Extend your creativity by infusing your arrangement with your event’s theme or something to do with your brand.
Art displays aren’t budget breakers, especially if you do it on your own. Purchase the whole fruits, scan Instagram or Pinterest for inspiration and go to work. You’ll need a few tools like scoopers or special knives. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Keep it fun for a great vibe at your event.
Skewers: Love on a Stick
Meat and veggie skewers are another great party food. They can be picked up easily and even eaten straight from the stick. Skewers can be used for cooked meats that have been grilled or roasted. Add veggies to some for a mix. For your vegetarians, include some with only veggies. Use skewers for raw foods as well, like fresh cuts of cheese and veggies like a mozzarella and tomato version or a feta and olive combination. Avoid cold cuts on these as they are high in sodium.
These colourful creations are budget-friendly and require minimal assembly for the cold versions. If using a caterer, enquire about skewer options to see what will fit your budget. Chicken will probably cost less than steak, and it’s healthier, too.
Make Salad Fun
Salads often get overlooked as well because they sit in large bowls that don’t show off what’s inside. Then, you have those people who like some things but not others. Are they really going to root around in the bowl for what they want? Probably not. So, it’s all about the serve.
One fun idea is to have a mini salad bar. Keep the options to a minimum and offer what people most like in a salad. Start with the big bowl of lettuce then have smaller bowls of tomato, onion and carrots. Add texture with sunflower seeds or nuts. This allows your employees to see the ingredients and realise they can make their own.
There’s no extra cost for this presentation, just a little more time. But it could be a fabulous way to make salads fun.
Healthy Cups They’ll Crave
In addition to or instead of salads, there are other inventive ways to serve things like simple cucumbers or celery. These green veggies are healthy alternatives to other appetizers, which usually include bread or other heavy carbs. Create a base with the celery or cucumber, then add things like cream cheese, peanut butter or dark chocolate. Fresh veggies with some sort of dip or accompaniment offers a crunchy and creamy snack that’s mess-free. Prep time would mainly involve cutting the vegetables up into bit sized portions. These healthy snacks are very inexpensive as well.
Wrap It Up
Hosting a working lunch? Then opt for wraps over bread. Bread is heavy and won’t help keep attendees focused. Whereas wraps are lighter and have many low carb versions. They are also finger foods so serving wraps reduces the need for silverware or serving cutlery. Offer a variety of wraps to please everyone, including all veggie options. For meat, turkey or chicken is the best pick for price and nutrition.
Chips and Dip for the Healthy Age
Chips and dip have been a staple of food spreads for decades. This classic duo combines the saltiness of the chip with savoury dip. But chips are salty, fried and have lots of other additives. Most dips are heavy on the sour cream or other rich dairy products. The healthy solution is tasty kale or vegetable chips. Find dips that focus more on fresh ingredients rather than heavy cream. You should be able to find a good variety of cost effective chip options, as they have become extremely popular in the last few years.
Something Sweet that Won’t Put You Down
Most every function ends with a dessert. This is often a cookie or brownie tray, which is, of course, very alluring. But you know those sugar filled delights will end up giving your staff a rush then a crash. Is there really something you can serve that will have people interested but is still good for them?
Yes, there really are some tasty alternatives, including:
- Yoghurt parfaits, which can be pre-assembled and include fruit and a touch of granola. Keep portions small and use yoghurt that is low in sugar like Greek.
- Pumpkin pudding made from pumpkin puree, egg, and evaporated milk, for a high-fibre, vitamin A-rich treat.
- Trail mix, which could be another make-your-own iteration. Trail mix has the salty and sweet mix that many palettes love. Include nuts, dried fruits, dark chocolate chips and coconut flakes, which all have great nutrients like antioxidants and good fats.
Food Preparation and Extras: What to Avoid
Now, that we’ve shared some keen ideas for office food spreads, we wanted to share a few more pointers on how to choose the best foods. Some foods may start out healthy but the way in which they are cooked or what is added to them can turn them unhealthy quickly.
How a food is prepared has a significant impact on the nutritional value of the meal. For example, choices that are baked, grilled, or roasted are a better option than fried. Sauces and dressings can also add sugar and salt. Keep sauces on the side so each person can choose what they want. Portion size is another way to control calories (and costs). Even if the foods come in bigger sizes, cut them before serving to what a standard portion size should be for that food. Look for a balance in the menu so that it is enticing but also is good for the body.
Let Healthy Eating Be a Pillar of Your Culture
Healthy eating can become part of your culture. It is, of course, a great perk for employees when they see that you value their health by offering better options. From regular snacks in the break room to meetings and events where the menu has been considered, show you care about what they eat.
Getting a bit creative is always fun, too. You may find that your employees even want to help more once they see the neat ideas you’ve created. Presenting healthier choices could potentially lead to a healthy food committee, where you and other employees that are passionate about health can brainstorm ideas for upcoming menus, choose what snacks you provide and develop educational programs for employees.
Healthy Options for Events, Meals and Snacks
For your next event, try out some of these ideas and see what your staff thinks. You may find they prefer your fruit sculptures and skewers to another slice of pizza. And, for the everyday snacks you offer employees, make sure they are in line with this philosophy. Make it even easier on yourself by partnering with a healthy snack delivery service like SnackWize. Learn more about our healthy snack selections here.