The Professional’s 5-Step Guide To Food Etiquette In The Workplace

Your lunch hour is your down time to refuel, relax, and prepare yourself for the final few hours of work. Whether you choose to eat in your office cafeteria, or eat while you work at your desk, there is food etiquette in the workplace that can make lunch hour more pleasant for you and your colleagues. Related: Office Etiquette: Do You Know The Basics? Some of you may read the title of this article and wonder why food etiquette is important to your career. If this describes you, then you are probably breaking several of these very simple rules of food etiquette in the workplace and didn’t even know it. If that’s the case, read on.


1. Don’t Bring Smelly Food To The Office

So, you went out to a seafood restaurant last night and had the best salmon fettuccine alfredo you’ve ever tasted. Rather than eat it all in one sitting, you decide to take it to work the next day to enjoy for lunch. Around noon, you make your way to the lunch room, place your container in the microwave, and begin to nuke your meal for five minutes. As you sit and chat with your lunch buddy, you notice a strong, fishy odor wafting through the air. You pull your offending meal from the microwave and proceed to walk to your cubicle because you have so much work to catch up on. You are now sharing your offending meal with everyone within 50 feet of you. Thanks! There are two major items to think about here. For starters, placing fish or any other kind of seafood in a microwave leaves behind an odor that can take days to disappear. Not only does the smell hang in the air, but other foods that are microwaved after your seafood may pick up a faint fish taste. The second second item to think about is sharing your smelly food with others at your cubicle. Now they are being forced to sit with the smell of your lunch while they try to get work done. Not cool. Try and stay away from smelly foods like seafood during lunch. If you must have seafood, try eating it cold in a salad or sandwich.

2. Don’t Become The Burned Popcorn Bandit

Aside from seafood, burned popcorn has to be the second worst workplace cafeteria smell. It always happens at about 3pm when people are looking for a quick snack to get them through the last few hours of the workday. How do people even burn popcorn when the directions are written on the bag itself? If you find that you’ve become the burned popcorn bandit, don’t just walk away. Get rid of the smell to the best of your ability. Try filling a microwave safe bowl with tap water. Next, either juice 1 whole lemon, OR add a heaping tablespoon of baking soda to the bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and set it for five minutes. Finally, wipe down the microwave with a clean sponge. Repeat the steps if necessary.

3. Don’t Leave A Sloppy Mess In The Kitchen

Have you ever seen the phrase, “You mom doesn’t work here!” sprawled on a sign over the kitchen sink in your office? That sign was meant for you -- the person that spills coffee on the counter, splatters tomato sauce all over the microwave, and leaves dirty food containers in the sink. Here’s a hint: Everyone hates you. The rule of etiquette here is rather simple: if you make a mess, kindly clean it up. After all, your mother doesn’t work here.

4. Don’t Leave Food In The Refrigerator For Longer Than A Week

The shared workplace refrigerator can be a scary place. Between the mystery bags of forgotten homemade sandwiches and the moldy jar of mayo that sits on the door, many people would rather avoid the refrigerator altogether than place their food in it. So, what’s the rule of etiquette on putting food in the refrigerator? Leave your food for no longer than a week. If you really want to be a lunchtime superstar, you may want to go one step further and ask others to remove their old food on Friday afternoon as well.

5. Don’t Pick Through Or Steal Food In The Refrigerator

Have you ever gone to get your lunch and saw that your lunch bag has been messed with? Maybe it’s been haphazardly tossed to the side. Perhaps the tape you wrapped it in looks like someone tried to peel it off. Or worse yet, you go into the refrigerator after a rough morning, and your lunch is GONE. While picking through another person’s food is pretty gross, stealing other people’s food from your workplace refrigerator is downright pathetic. The workplace rule for step five is rather basic, but needs to be stated as it happens all the time: If it’s not yours, don’t touch it. While food etiquette in the workplace may not immediately seem as important as getting noticed during meetings or learning how to network, it does say a lot about the kind of person you are. Taking the time to be mindful of others says that you are someone that other people want on their team. So take a few moments to review these five steps and figure out if you have broken any of these simple rules of food etiquette. Your co-workers will thank you for it. This post was sponsored by CulinarySchools.com. CulinarySchools.com strives to teach students the art and science behind the flavors, allowing them to gain the skills required to work in the culinary field. You'll not only find information about choosing the right culinary school but also find some great articles about hot trends in dining, culinary careers, and even the lives of working chefs.  

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