20-Somethings - Group Lunch Etiquette




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orthodiva
05-01-2008, 01:55 AM
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?


carolineintx
05-01-2008, 10:17 AM
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.

mariarose
05-01-2008, 10:51 AM
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!


CookieMonster416
05-01-2008, 10:53 AM
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.

mariarose
05-01-2008, 11:04 AM
btw I didn't mean to sound super harsh-- I have no idea why this behavior bothers me so much, but it really does!

Taylor86
05-01-2008, 11:10 AM
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?

MindiV
05-01-2008, 11:17 AM
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.

ladybugnessa
05-01-2008, 11:18 AM
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?

mariarose
05-01-2008, 11:54 AM
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?

ladybugnessa
05-01-2008, 11:57 AM
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?

mariarose
05-01-2008, 12:01 PM
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!

Kriket84
05-01-2008, 12:08 PM
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 :mad:

ladybugnessa
05-01-2008, 12:11 PM
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.

ShannanA
05-01-2008, 12:18 PM
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.

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)

junebug41
05-01-2008, 12:46 PM
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 :)

LiLi Gettin Thin
05-01-2008, 12:47 PM
Wow, that is pretty rude. I mean, I like a free meal as much as the next person, but there are limits!

We have lunches at work too. If there are any questions about having enough food to go around, they make an announcement before people start serving themselves, to take only one or two pieces until everyone has had a share. If there is any left over, then people can go back for seconds. Maybe this will work for you? That way you don't have to give your friend a talking to and possibly upset her.

ladybugnessa
05-01-2008, 01:08 PM
i think that the question is ARE YOU actually running out of food or just WORRIED about it. I did not pick up that the OP actually ran out of food just was bugged and concerned by what she's deeming as bizzare and annoying behavior

mandalinn82
05-01-2008, 01:13 PM
OK, you're in charge of ordering the food, right? I'd handle this differently, I think. I'm speaking from a place of having had to attend many business-type lunches where there was nothing I could really eat while staying on plan, and having to pick around things to get something decent out of the meal. At the same time, I tried to be aware of other people and not take more than my share, which she seems to be missing.

Anyway, I'd ask her what sort of dietary restrictions she has and what she eats. Then I'd make sure that SOMETHING in that order worked for her as-is, with no picking necessary. Maybe it's a big salad, maybe it's something else, but if you order at least one thing that works for her, you might solve the problem. And I'm sure she'd appreciate it!

modkittn
05-01-2008, 01:37 PM
yes the joys of long term federal employment are many.

:rofl: I have a govt job too so I know exactly what you are talking about!

modkittn
05-01-2008, 01:38 PM
Anyway, I'd ask her what sort of dietary restrictions she has and what she eats. Then I'd make sure that SOMETHING in that order worked for her as-is, with no picking necessary. Maybe it's a big salad, maybe it's something else, but if you order at least one thing that works for her, you might solve the problem. And I'm sure she'd appreciate it!

I was thinking this too, but you beat me to the punch!

JulieJ08
05-01-2008, 01:47 PM
If it's necessary for cost reasons, you don't have to single her out. Just make a general memo asking everyone to only have 1-2 of any item until all have a chance to eat. That's completely fair and impersonal and applies across the board to all co-workers.

xGurlyGrlx
05-01-2008, 03:45 PM
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?

I agree. Picking apart food in a professional meeting is rude. Children pick at food not professional adults in a professional environment. I had a co-worker who would pick at her food WITH her fingers...eat with her fingers, and just disgust everyone during meetings. I can see why you are annoyed with that behavior - budget aside.

I have also attended many business meetings while trying to maintain my (at the time) low carb lifestyle and I know how hard it is to find food. Eating pizza or bread can really set your weight loss off for a while. I would usually just pack something for later assuming I wouldn't be able to eat most of the meal. I think there are two things here. One, she is rude for picking her food apart infront of professionals - whether you spend a lot of time with them or not - it's not appropriate. Two, she is inconsiderate for taking more than her share. She must be an only child.... :lol3: Please don't take offense if you are one. I just find that most - NOT all - tend to think the world revolves around them, which makes it hard for them to realize they are being greedy and taking more than they should. A simple memo regarding food portions might work! Good luck!

orthodiva
05-01-2008, 06:46 PM
Wow, glad to see I'm not alone when it comes to co-workers and free lunch abuse! I didn't want to make the original post too long so I wanted to add that yes, I do order a tray of salad for her, me and the few other women in the group because we do want options other other than the carb and grease fest most of these buffets usually are. Yesterday the salad was an awesome one and she & I did bulk up on that, but she proceeded to pick the veggies off the 4 slices of pizza as well. :rolleyes: Actually, last week I ordered a bbq buffet and I specifically asked her to order a salad for herself so she wouldn't waste through an entire container of coleslaw and leave 15 people to share the other container (It worked!). We have done individual lunches many times and it's never a problem then. It's not a matter of me losing my job since vendors are buying the lunch for us, I just have to arrange it. I just wondered what others have observed when it comes to restricted eaters and what you ladies do for yourselves when you come across the lunch buffet situation when you are watching what you eat. We've only ran out of food a few times and usually there are leftovers. My co-worker and I just cringe at the thought of so much waste. The three of us (fellow appalled co-worker, skinny friend & me) all grew up hearing our families preach not to waste food because people back home were starving, so it is bizarre she would waste so much. To add, when we have donuts, she picks the sprinkles off individually and leaves the donut behind. You really could just go home and eat a bowl of sprinkles to yourself and not have to waste an entire donut that someone else would have ate and enjoyed.

Just for kicks - She & I were at the supermarket one day eyeing the pastry case. One of the cake pastries was $6 and had 2 glazed strawberries on top. I mentioned that it looked tempting but I shouldn't have it because the calories would be too much for me. Her suggestion was "Just buy it and eat the strawberries, mmmm, they'd be so good, I think I'm going to do that." I replied "There is no way I am spending $6 on a pastry just to eat the 2 strawberries off the top. I can buy a huge container of strawberries over in produce and eat as many as I want for $6"

Very strange, but she is skinny so the odd behaviors work for her. I do have to say that she has helped me out with some diet tips these past few months as I have transitioned to healthy eating.

kaplods
05-01-2008, 08:23 PM
In learning to eat healthy, I've had to redefine "waste," and realize I do not have to accept the role of human garbage can. I can throw away part of the bun, etc. without any guilt or self-consciousness, even in mixed company. However, the concept of buying a cake to eat the strawberry on top and discard the rest, seems to extend beyond ordinarly eccentricity and wastefulness into neurosis.

I would wonder if she has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and/or anorexia/bulimia. Her behavior is far beyond "a little odd." OCD is common among anorexics and bulimics, and often presents as food phobias and irrational food beliefs as well as extreme and complicated eating rituals. Sometimes picking at and shredding or toying with the food is deliberate to disguise how little they are actually eating, but when OCD is involved, it can also be an anxiety-reducing mechanism (or at least NOT doing it causes anxiety, as for OCD compulsive handwashing).

I can't really offer much of a suggestion for stopping the behavior, because if it is OCD, it's likely that only behavior modification training or even medication could stop or decrease the behavior. If you're close enough friends, you might ask her gently and discreetly whether her "picking" during meals is a conscious choice, a nervous habit or a compulsion she can't control. Getting her to talk about it, might give you a better idea of what's going on, and how and if to address the problem on a different level. Suggesting that it might leave an odd impression on people may help if it's voluntary, but if it's involuntary (especially if she already is getting help for it) drawing a lot of attention to it, or criticising it too harshly may be more anxiety-producing for her than helpful.

Princess0113
05-01-2008, 08:27 PM
i obviously would have no idea if this is the case with your skinny friend... but i have heard this picking behavior described by someone who had anorexia. she had gotten so used to just picking at food instead of eating it. or she would eat, but just eat the sprinkles off a donut and count all of the calories for the entire donut as if she had eaten it. then after she got help and began eating healthy (instead of basically not eating at all), she still found herself picking at food out of habit i guess. she would eat, but only parts of food out of fear of gaining weight or binging. at other times during her recovery it went the other way and she would pick at so many different things, she was basically binging and ended up gaining weight.

orthodiva
05-01-2008, 09:48 PM
Hmmm... interesting thoughts. We went food shopping yesterday and she purchased $90 in vegetables/fruits and basic foods like cereal, yogurt, cottage cheese, and tofu and other "unhealthy" things like half of a cake and an individual quiche. We've seen her eat whole bagels in our presence (no cream cheese and bagels are the only carbs I've seen her eat). She orders things like green vegetable curry at a thai restaurant and eats everything except the rice. Obviously she picks at the lunches, donuts, and pastries in wierd ways. I'll pay closer attention and broach the topic casually at some point and see what she has to say about it. We work in healthcare with teens, so it's not an unusual thing for us to talk about. Thanks gals for pointing it out.