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Old 05-01-2008, 01:55 AM   #1
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Default Group Lunch Etiquette

One of my jobs at work is to order lunch for lunch meetings for our group of 15 at work. The majority of our group is guys in their late 20s/early 30s who eat very heartily so I am always worried about ordering enough food for everyone without going over budget.

One of the girls (she is a friend, very tall and thin) is a picky eater, literally. For example, if she buys sushi, she will pick the fish and seawood out from around the rice and leave the rice behind on her plate. Basically she avoids rice and bread carbs during meals. But her eating habits during our lunches make me and my co-worker friend cringe because she is so wasteful. A few weeks ago the vendor had ordered sandwiches. She sat with us with a vegetarian sandwich, peeled it apart and ate the lettuce, tomato, hummus and cucumber out of the middle and threw the bread out. Understandable, except she went and got 2 more sandwiches and ate them in the same way. The vendor had probably ordered figuring 1 - 2 sandwiches/person. Today we had pizza, and I think she went through 4 slices of vegetable pizza (half of a huge pizza) in the same style - pick off the toppings, toss the bread. A few days ago we had some lemon cake dessert, and she proceeded to take 2 giant slices, eat just the middle layer of lemon cream and throw the rest of the cake out.

I could care less how she eats when she is buying her own meals. I understand controlling what you eat to watch your figure since that's what we're all doing in some form or another. I understand if you didn't like something, you aren't going to finish it and will be throwing it out. But seeing as I worry if there will be enough food for the entire group, to watch someone go through half a pizza and only eat the toppings makes me wonder where is her consideration for those who haven't gotten to the lunch table yet? It would probably be hurtful for me to say anything since she is a friend too. I can't be there manning the lunches since we are all adults so it is expected that we serve ourselves appropriately, which almost everyone does.

I guess I'm just venting. What have you seen people do at group lunches?

Last edited by orthodiva : 05-01-2008 at 02:01 AM.
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Old 05-01-2008, 10:17 AM   #2
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wow...what a strange girl. That does seem inconsiderate, has it ever been an issue where theres not enough to go around afterwards? I don't really have any experiences to share, at my office we actually order each person their own lunch where they pick what salad or sandwich they want off a list before the order is placed. Not sure if thats feasable for you (our office is only 9 people), but that would probably solve the issue with carb-girl if she could only pick and eat one thing.
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Old 05-01-2008, 10:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by orthodiva View Post
One of my jobs at work is to order lunch for lunch meetings for our group of 15 at work. The majority of our group is guys in their late 20s/early 30s who eat very heartily so I am always worried about ordering enough food for everyone without going over budget.

One of the girls (she is a friend, very tall and thin) is a picky eater, literally. For example, if she buys sushi, she will pick the fish and seawood out from around the rice and leave the rice behind on her plate. Basically she avoids rice and bread carbs during meals. But her eating habits during our lunches make me and my co-worker friend cringe because she is so wasteful. A few weeks ago the vendor had ordered sandwiches. She sat with us with a vegetarian sandwich, peeled it apart and ate the lettuce, tomato, hummus and cucumber out of the middle and threw the bread out. Understandable, except she went and got 2 more sandwiches and ate them in the same way. The vendor had probably ordered figuring 1 - 2 sandwiches/person. Today we had pizza, and I think she went through 4 slices of vegetable pizza (half of a huge pizza) in the same style - pick off the toppings, toss the bread. A few days ago we had some lemon cake dessert, and she proceeded to take 2 giant slices, eat just the middle layer of lemon cream and throw the rest of the cake out.

I could care less how she eats when she is buying her own meals. I understand controlling what you eat to watch your figure since that's what we're all doing in some form or another. I understand if you didn't like something, you aren't going to finish it and will be throwing it out. But seeing as I worry if there will be enough food for the entire group, to watch someone go through half a pizza and only eat the toppings makes me wonder where is her consideration for those who haven't gotten to the lunch table yet? It would probably be hurtful for me to say anything since she is a friend too. I can't be there manning the lunches since we are all adults so it is expected that we serve ourselves appropriately, which almost everyone does.

I guess I'm just venting. What have you seen people do at group lunches?
Wow... i really want to have a helpful answer for this but it is just so...bizarre. Not to sound like my grandmother, but besides being a greedy behavior (taking much more than your fair share), and wasteful, it also sounds like bad table manners. I'm just picturing someone in a public setting literally separating the various parts of their sandwich or pizza or dessert and eating the middle parts. Very unprofessional and probably distracting to the other people at the meeting!
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Old 05-01-2008, 10:53 AM   #4
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Are you paying for these meals? Not going to lie, but that's probably what people say about me when I eat lunches where I can't order. I try and only eat the healthy parts. If you are truly bothered by this behavior and worried that there won't be enough food I recommend asking her before you order if there is something she would like you to order especially for her. Maybe if she was just able to have a salad rather than pick around the sandwiches she would be less wasteful.
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:04 AM   #5
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btw I didn't mean to sound super harsh-- I have no idea why this behavior bothers me so much, but it really does!
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:10 AM   #6
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If that girl is on some sort of diet....she should pack her own lunches.

When lunch is provided to me - like being in the bridal party - my soon-to-be sister in law is order from Chipotle I pre-ordered a chicken burrito bowl so I can neatly eat around the items that aren't great for me instead of getting a burrito and making a mess out of myself and my food.

Can your order a side salad or fresh fruit for the picky eater?
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:17 AM   #7
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If it's a budget from work that you're trying to stick to, that it's your JOB to stick to, I'd think it's not out of line for you to talk to her about the behavior if it's hurting your bottom line, and therefore YOUR job. Tell her you can respect her no-carb choices, since you're watching what you eat as well, but that she's wasting too much food that the company is paying for. Suggest that she stick to one entree as part of the group meal, and pack a snack from home for after lunch if she's still hungry. Or to be nicer, ask her if there are food options or restaurants where there's more she CAN eat and throw in one of those places every once in a while.

All I know is when it comes to budgets, companies aren't willing to bust them for one person's eating habits.

We had the same issue with a former co-worker. Before my "lifestyle change," we'd order pizza on Fridays when we all got paid. I'm the only picky one in the office, and all I eat is pepperoni pizza. So we'd get one medium pepperoni and one whatever everyone else wanted. This woman would eat both types, but always ate only the pepproni and did the same thing...scrape off the toppings and toss the bread. But she'd go through four pieces...and when you're sharing a medium pizza with eight slices with four other people, it tended to leave me with one piece.

I know now that was a blessing in disguise, because it kept me from eating too much. But GOSH it was annoying at the time.
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:18 AM   #8
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well I can see why she eats the sandwiches and the pizza the way she did. I'd probably do the same thing if that was all that was available for me. the cake filling eating is just weird.


how would you feel if a guy ate 4 slices of pizza or 3 sandwiches but ate the whole thing would you be posting this question then?
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:54 AM   #9
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how would you feel if a guy ate 4 slices of pizza or 3 sandwiches but ate the whole thing would you be posting this question then?
For me, if a guy OR a girl ate 4 slices of pizza or 3 sandwiches, I'd be fine with it as long as they made sure everyone else had an opportunity for seconds/thirds etc and weren't just hogging an unequal amount of food while other went without.

There are two issues here:
One is that she is wasting more than she is eating-- there is a difference between removing a condiment you don't like from your sandwich(es) and getting entire sandwiches that you only eat certain parts of. I know a lot of people advocate for throwing away foods that are unhealthy and don't agree with one's eating plan, but wouldn't it be better to not pick those foods in the first place? Like if this woman knows she just wants veggies, maybe she should bring a salad instead of taking all the veggie pizza and throwing half of it away.

#2 is manners, and this is honestly the bigger issue to me. Picking apart your food is okay when you are in your living room with your family, if that is the way your famiy eats. My fiance often orders fast food burgers and gives me the pickles and onions to munch on, but we would never do this in front of other people! I doubt this woman would pick her food apart like that in front of her parents, who presumably raised her with table manners. So why does she think it is okay in a business meeting?
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:57 AM   #10
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ah well i spend more time with the people I work with than I do my family... the folks I work with are my family.... if i can't be myself with them who can i be myself with?
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Old 05-01-2008, 12:01 PM   #11
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ah well i spend more time with the people I work with than I do my family... the folks I work with are my family.... if i can't be myself with them who can i be myself with?
that must be really nice All my work environments have been competitive to a certain degree, with everyone trying to put their best foot forward and move up some ladder or other, so I guess that is why I have a different view of how to behave in a meeting!
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Old 05-01-2008, 12:08 PM   #12
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I have ordered and prepared meals for children in summer camps, and we would deal with this exact situation. except children, which is the sad part. At the begining of the meal, we would do our song and meditation (prayer) and then talk about what we were having for the meal. We always always always said something about eating everything that you take, and practicing good table manners.
Maybe you could do the same? Maybe mention that you noticed that there is a lot of food going to waste while at the same time, some people aren't getting enough? Make sure that they know you are on a budget. A lot of people think that food is free or something. Also, maybe that everyone is an adult and proper table manners need to be observed.
In general just because I choose not to eat (not can't, can't is a lie) certain things, doesn't mean that I have the right to put people out. I would rather not eat, or eat just a bite of something I shouldn't have a lot of then waste food. As a chef, wasting food is a cardinal sin
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Old 05-01-2008, 12:11 PM   #13
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that must be really nice All my work environments have been competitive to a certain degree, with everyone trying to put their best foot forward and move up some ladder or other, so I guess that is why I have a different view of how to behave in a meeting!

yes the joys of long term federal employment are many.
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Old 05-01-2008, 12:18 PM   #14
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I am low carb which means splurging at one luncheon can set back my weight loss by a week.

I do think taking more than your share is unacceptable. If we have pizza at work I take 2 slices but won't eat the bread part. Regardless of how someone eats their pizza taking 1/2 a pizza for yourself is just plain rude.

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ah well i spend more time with the people I work with than I do my family... the folks I work with are my family.... if i can't be myself with them who can i be myself with?
Same here, we are a very close knit bunch (I work in a group home)
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Old 05-01-2008, 12:46 PM   #15
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I am low carb which means splurging at one luncheon can set back my weight loss by a week.

I do think taking more than your share is unacceptable. If we have pizza at work I take 2 slices but won't eat the bread part. Regardless of how someone eats their pizza taking 1/2 a pizza for yourself is just plain rude.



Same here, we are a very close knit bunch (I work in a group home)
Good point. I'm somewhat of a picker myself. I will eat all the veggies off the pizza and leave the crust/cheese, but I wouldn't imagine doing that to 4 or 5 pieces. I always make sure that when we order, there is a big salad involved and that I do take a lot of because that's all I eat (and frankly, there's always a lot left over).

I just came off of a film shoot and I was repeatedly turned off by the greediness of people (probably because I was in charge of lunch most of the time). When there wasn't an over abundance and there would have been a reasonable amount for everyone, the first wave would be swiping the last piece of chicken or lasagna or whatever when there was obviously another wave of people that had to eat.

If there is enough food and it's not a sacrifice from others, then I don't think it's that big of a deal. But it sounds like it kind of is, so maybe ask discuss it with her, like, "how much food are you going to take today"-- but nicer
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