When most of us think of a catered box lunch at an office or event, it conjures up images of a saran-wrapped sandwich paired with a bag of chips, a cookie, and maybe a little cup of pasta salad. While that version of a boxed lunch certainly feeds the need for nourishment, it’s not very exciting. The good news is that catered box lunches have come of age and, when done right, are an affordable, convenient way to wow guests.
Covid Boosted the Popularity of Boxed Lunches
When social distancing and individual portions were necessary, boxed lunches became a way to mix and mingle while keeping people safe. The demand for boxed lunches is still on the rise, but now event planners want them to be exciting and memorable. At Messina’s Catering and Events, we’ve been serving up boxed lunches with unique twists for more than six decades and are continually adding new experiences to the catered box lunch affair. Just because lunch is served in a box doesn’t mean it can’t appeal to all of our senses—from a striking presentation to a pleasing combination of flavors and textures.
What are the Benefits of Serving Boxed Lunches
The benefit of a boxed lunch over buffets and plated meals are hard to beat for the right event.
Boxes Keep Food Safely Covered – Boxed lunches are specifically designed to protect meals and can be crafted in just about any theme you can dream up. They prevent cross-contamination from someone coming down with a cold and might use the same tong to self-serve chicken or sushi on a buffet line. Each box is also built individually for each guest, so they can be customized and protected from coming in contact with foods that some guests may be allergic to.
Boxes Can Offer Great Variety – An Italian lunch box can transport guests to the Mediterranean with fresh salads containing ingredients like fresh basil, pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes, pine nuts, olives, grapes, and a fresh ciabatta roll for mopping up any remaining balsamic vinegar dressing. Or treat guests to the Vietnamese treat of Banh Mi, a sandwich served on a baguette that includes ingredients such as pork sausage, pâté, sardines, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cilantro, cucumber, and chilis. It’s a great way to introduce a new taste experience that most people love. A bowl of Pho, with a rich beef or vegetable broth, boiled egg, ramen noodles, fresh basil and jalapenos, green onions, tuna, shitake mushrooms, and a spicy chili sauce, is as fun to eat as it is satisfying. Plus, it looks beautiful in the bowl and can be served with fried gyoza or spring rolls. What about savory crepes for lunch? Crepes are thin pancakes that can be stuffed and topped with a wide variety of ingredients, such as ham and cheese or mushrooms and cream sauce. Japanese Bento boxes are another great option and offer an individually portioned tray of rice, fish, meat, pickled or cooked vegetables, tempura, and mini eggrolls. Here in New Orleans, we like to cater lunches with our own Messina’s style Jambalaya, with its sausage, seafood, rice, and Cajun flavors which makes for a filling and enjoyable lunch repast.
Boxes Prevent Long Buffet Lines – It usually takes time for each guest to get through a buffet line, and time is of the essence in a lunch-centered event. Plus, it can be challenging to get back to your table when balancing a salad plate, dinner plate, and utensils. Boxes offer the benefit of being grab-and-go and keeping the event moving at a nice pace.
Boxes Can Save You Money on Your Catering Bill – Boxed lunches eliminate the need for service staff and ensure equal portions, which is hard to control in a buffet setting.
Boxed Lunches Not Only Fill a Hunger but Can Stimulate Better Work Performance
A recent Harvard study found a connection between the foods we eat and the cognitive performance that follows. Here’s why: Just about everything we consume is converted by our bodies into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. But not all foods are processed at the same rate. Some foods, like pasta and bread, release their glucose quickly, giving us a post-lunch boost followed by a mid-afternoon slump. Healthier boxed lunch options like salads and wraps provide sustainable energy without making us as groggy as a cheeseburger and fries would. And when presented artfully, they can be more exciting!
Messina’s Can Help You Think Outside (and Inside) the Boxed Lunch
Boxed lunches are a fantastic option if you’re looking for a convenient, inventive lunch experience beyond the buffet or plated meal. All the utensils, drinks, and napkins are incorporated, so it’s truly a one-stop solution for serving your guests. Want more ideas? We’ve been creating custom boxed-lunch solutions for our clients for more than sixty years. Call us to brainstorm ideas for your next event!