Making Meetings Healthy, Part 2: Smart Catering Options

Last week, I shared my experiences with and general strategies for staying healthy during all-day meetings.  Today, I wanted to provide some tips for meeting organizers, who are often faced with the daunting task of working with a catering company to plan a menu that is cost-effective, tastes good, and (hopefully) contains some nutritious options.  Fortunately, healthy catering options abound, and the suggestions listed below should satisfy attendees without breaking the bank.  The next time you find yourself planning a meeting that involves catered food, consider including at least 2-3 options from each of the following categories, taken from the StayWell Choice™ healthy catering guide:

Beverages

  • Water (bottled or filtered)
  • Skim or 1% milk
  • Low-fat, unsweetened non-dairy milk (e.g., soymilk)
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Calorie-free flavored water or mineral water
  • Tea (hot or iced)
  • Black coffee (regular and decaf)

Breakfast

  • Fresh fruit (whole or bite-size)
  • Fruit salad/fruit cups
  • Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries) and nuts
  • Yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat granola
  • Instant, plain oatmeal
  • Whole wheat English muffins with jam or peanut butter
  • Whole wheat mini bagels and low-fat cream cheese
  • Whole grain toast
  • Poached/hard boiled eggs
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Granola, cereal, or fiber bars

Sandwiches

  • Vegetarian option — always
  • Lean meats or meat substitutes, such as roast beef, turkey, tuna, chicken, hummus, tofu, and low-fat cheeses
  • Low-sodium meats
  • Whole-wheat breads, pitas, and wraps
  • Condiments — such as mayo, butter/margarine, and mustard — on the side
  • Fresh vegetable toppings such as lettuce, tomato, pickles, sprouts, cucumbers, peppers,
  • and onions
  • Cut sandwiches into halves

Lunch

  • Dark salad greens (Romaine, Boston, leaf, or spring lettuce; kale; spinach)
  • Salad dressing on the side and at least one fat-free or low-fat option; oil and vinegar
  • Low-sodium, low-calorie, low-fat soups
  • Whole wheat breads
  • Whole wheat pasta dish
  • Vegetarian option: tofu, beans, lentils, meat alternative, etc.
  • Fruit (whole or bite-size pieces, cups)
  • Vegetable (steamed or fresh)
  • Whole grain pretzels, baked whole grain chips or popcorn
  • Lean meats that are grilled, baked, or broiled
  • Avoid fried and breaded foods
  • Smaller portion sizes or half-sizes

Mid-Afternoon Snacks

  • Trail mix
  • Fruit (whole or bite-size pieces, fruit cups)
  • Vegetable sticks and low-fat dip (hummus)
  • Celery sticks or apple slices and peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Low-fat or air-popped popcorn (no butter)
  • Granola bars, 100% fruit bars, cereal bars
  • Low-fat string cheese
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds (consider providing small cups for the seeds)
  • Low-fat yogurt, preferably Greek
  • Cheese and cracker trays (preferably whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese)
  • 100% fruit juice

Desserts

  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Fruit cups
  • Fresh fruit or fruit salad
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One response

  1. Great tips on making meetings healthier!! I’ve always had a real issue about meetings nothing but high fat, high sugar, high gluten food!!

    For other tips on creating meetings with meaning, check my blog post!

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