Tips for a Brown-Bag Lunch with Co-Workers

What you need to know for a fun, in-office lunch potluck

Lunch in the office

For many of us office workers sitting all day behind a computer screen, running out to the nearest Chipotle or corner salad spot is a daily ritual that gives us a brief moment to catch up with co-workers and get some fresh air. It’s also a habit that be expensive and unhealthy (if you frequently indulge in your penchance for burgers and shakes) over time. So why not brown bag it instead?

All this week, Big Girls Small Kitchen and Small Kitchen College is focusing on the art of the brown bag lunch. Now if thoughts of lunchboxes stuffed with a boring sandwich, carrot sticks, and a pudding cup that you eat alone come to mind, think again. Instead of making a lifeless lunch-for-one, team up with co-workers and host a weekly brown bag potluck in your office. With our tips and suggestions below, you can share a healthy and delicious meal made from scratch over good conversation, all while saving money and reducing lunchtime waste.


1. Pick the Date

Begin by picking what day of the week you want have your gathering. Wednesday offers a midweek respite from your office’s busy pace, or choose Friday for a fun and social way to ease into the weekend. Then be sure to book your office conference room or create an area where lunch can be set up (like that empty desktop?) That way, when it’s time to eat, desk chairs can be pulled together in a circle.


2. Poll Your Co-Workers

Send an email around to your colleagues inviting those interested to join in. Assign three colleagues each one dish — an appetizer, entrée, or dessert — to bring that is large enough to feed your group. If you have more than three people participating, make the gathering a weekly tradition so the people bringing the food rotates to ensure everyone has equal cooking responsibilities. Create a calendar to post in your break room so no one forgets when it's their day to cook.


3. What You Need

Hosting a brown bag potluck is easy if your office has a full kitchen with fridge and sink for storing and cleaning up. For budget- and eco-friendly dining, have each participant bring in their own plate, utensils, and napkin (which they can stash at their desk or in a kitchen cupboard) and be sure that you have utensils on hand for serving. And be sure to have some cleaning spray and paper towels on hand to wipe down any dripped food or crumbs from the surfaces (so you don’t attract unwanted four-legged friends).