More and more people are turning to meal planning, packing pre-made lunches for the week ahead. They say that making healthy, make ahead lunches ensures they’re getting balanced nutrition during the day; keeping them in better mental and physical shape. And research agrees – numerous studies have shown that the more home-cooked food a person eats, the healthier they tend to be, like this study from John Hopkins, that proves out the positive correlation between home cooking and health.
But here’s the rub: That same study revealed that people working more than 35 hours a week (isn’t that all of us?) have a hard time finding time to cook. So what can you do?
As an employer, you can support your employees by making it easier for them to create healthy, make-ahead lunches for work that they’ll enjoy. Not only will you be supporting them in meeting their own health and wellness goals, you’ll be helping yourself, with employees that are healthier, happier, and more productive.
1) PROVIDE HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES ONSITE
Even the most committed meal planner is going to miss a lunch or two – maybe they had a late night out, the kids were sick, or there was a shortage of kale at the co-op. Help them keep their healthy groove on, by offering tasty, nutritious food choices right at work.
Keep the fridge stocked with virtuous snacks they can grab in a pinch, or host a free micro market vending option. Offering food onsite is a great way to make sure employees never feel like they HAVE to eat something they don’t really want to, which they’re sure to appreciate.
2) HOST A MEAL PLANNING TUTORIAL
Though it’s not something that’s often talked about, a lot of people just don’t know their way around the kitchen. Sure, they can heat up a hot pocket or put mustard on a piece of bread, but when it comes to creating healthy, balanced meals from scratch, they feel intimidated. That’s where professional help comes in.
Bring in a local chef who specializes in meal planning for a fun, informative cooking class. They can cover everything from making a weekly lunch plan, to how to shop smart, to actually cooking and packing pre-made lunches for the week. It can be incredibly liberating for a person to get a bit of food-prep instruction. Even the smallest amount of gentle instruction can help home cooking feel accessible.
Not only is this a great way for employees to kick-start a weekly lunch plan, now you’re team-building, too. Isn’t it funny watching Cara peel a sweet potato for the first time? And look at Kenji – who knew he could julienne?
3) SPRING FOR HEALTHY INGREDIENTS
Sure, we all know that healthy food is the best medicine, but sometimes it can look like a lot of expense up-front, especially for people who are new to cooking. $5 for an organic pepper?? $2 for a cucumber!? Consider forming a workplace buying cooperative. You’ve got a large group of employees right there, many of whom are already looking for ways to keep costs down; not to mention trips to the grocery store. But maybe recruit someone else to run it, because you know that shiz is going to be a ton of work.
Some progressive companies are purchasing farm shares for their employees, so they have access to fresh, local produce right at work. It’s a great way to support local agriculture, and enjoy produce that’s super fresh and at its peak.
Just don’t load up on too much celeriac. Nobody knows what to do with that stuff.
4) MAKE SPACE IN THE FRIDGE
Here’s the thing about fresh food: it needs to be refrigerated. Be sure your office has enough refrigerators to accommodate everyone’s awesome lunches. And consider offering some commonly used condiments onsite so your employees have one less thing to worry about. Hot sauces, salad dressings, and salsas are all a nice option, especially since they’re a total pain to pack in a lunch.
Just remember… more lunches in the fridge means more mess. Put a plan into place for keeping things tidy, or you might end up with an outbreak of passive aggressive post-it notes, and nobody wants that.
5) OFFER SEASONAL WEEKLY LUNCH PLANS
This is an easy way to encourage your employee’s weekly lunch planning efforts. Provide them with lunch meal plans, including meal ideas, ingredient lists, and nutritional information, so they can skip right to the prepping and packing. If you can follow the seasons, you’ll be pointing employees toward fresher, tastier, and more sustainable ingredients.
Of course, some employees enjoy dreaming up work week lunch ideas, so why not solicit their help? You’ll be increasing employee engagement while reducing your own workload. Boy, are you smart or what?
6) GIVE THEM CUTE CONTAINERS
Let’s face it: at least half of the reason people are so crazy about meal planning is the cute containers. From stainless steel tiffins to gem-colored tupperware to lacquered bento boxes and so much more… people get really into how they pack their food. And why not? Presentation counts.
Give your employees a reason to relish their weekly lunch prep with a cute container of their own. You can even brand some styles with your company colors or logo, so they’ll be reminded of what a great organization they work for, every time they pack (or eat) their lunch.
7) PARTNER WITH LOCAL STORES
Consider partnering with a local grocery store to offer a discount to your employees, making fresh ingredients more affordable. Your employees will appreciate the perk, you’ll be helping to support a local business, AND you’ll be making it easier for your people to create healthy make-ahead lunches with whole, nutritious ingredients.
SUPPORTING THEIR WEEKLY LUNCH PLAN MEANS SUPPORTING YOUR EMPLOYEES
Put these ideas into action and show your employees that you value them and want them to enjoy delicious, healthy pre made lunches during the work week. Better yet, host your own staff appreciation lunch!
By enabling people to make better work week lunches, employers are paving the way to healthier breakfasts and dinners, too; paving the way for their employees to enjoy better overall health.
Interested in your own free micro market for the workplace?
Get started with a free CustomFresh consultation.