The Office Food Trap


It doesn’t matter if you work in a newsroom, a corporate office, a non-profit or school there will always be the carry in. Some people call it a potluck. Others call it a pitch-in, bring-a-plate, dish-to-pass or any multitude of other words that all mean you bring something and have a feast.

Seems easy enough, right? You bring a dish and so do your co-workers. But that’s where it gets tricky. Some co-workers might be on a diet or are diabetic. Or can’t eat sugar substitutes. Or show their love with food or by commenting on your food choices. These landmines don’t have to be difficult.

Do what you can for your dish, the one you bring. If you love macaroni and cheese and have a fantastic recipe, make it! Don’t modify it unless you have to for yourself. That way you’ll know what goes in it and can tell your coworkers when they ask. Plus, you’ll know you can at least eat what you brought.

A note on co-workers asking what’s in the dish, it might be because they have an allergy or an intolerance or because they think the dish is so fantastic they must have the recipe. Be flattered and be kind.

You might feel obligated to take something because your boss made it, even if you already know you loathe the dish. That’s ok. Find a way to make it at least look like you tasted it. If that means cutting it up into teensy, eensy bites or hiding it under something else, fine, just be discrete.

As for an out on the whole thing all together you can always claim you forgot about the carry in, already made lunch plans or ate a huge breakfast and are stuffed. Regardless of whether or not you choose to participate, just be polite. Accept others food comments and occasional criticisms as a reflection of them, not you. Some people just show love with food.

How do you navigate the Office Food trap?

Don’t eat your co-workers food

Seriously. You might think no one is going to eat that Lean Cuisine that’s been in the freezer for three months, but the second you eat it, that person will go looking for it. Guaranteed.

If this weren’t common office behavior, then the site reference above wouldn’t exist. The tag line for those awesomely gross sandwich bags is, “Are you sick of having your lunch stolen by coworkers or roommates? Disguise your sandwich to look spoiled and moldy! No one will touch it! Finally! A solution for those thieves that lurk in your office or your room just waiting to devour your perfectly made sandwich. With these bags (box comes with 25), you’ll be able to effectively deter any attempts on your lunch’s life. Bags are food safe and recyclable. Fits most sandwiches.”

As one faithful reader put it, “There will always be one or two people who eat other’s food, marked or not. Lunches and other food items go missing and usually no one seems to know where they go. Kind of like socks.”

Do not under any circumstances take a bite out of the crab cake and then hide it in the back. Do not eat the tub of ice cream that your officemate was saving for the intern’s birthday. Just don’t. If you didn’t bring it or didn’t buy it, then it isn’t yours.

Accessories speak louder than words

Image from:

By now most of you know that what clothes you wear at the office and to an interview give your coworkers and the interviewer insight into who you are. We’ve previously talked about the dress code at the office and what additional items to bring with you to an interview. But what about your accessories?

According to this Daily Worth article, these seemingly tiny details add up. Diamond studs and a classic watch convey classy, quiet power. Mixing metals and a bold color palate make you a fashionable trendsetter. Statement earrings, layered bracelets and vintage cocktail rings communicate glamor.

For men, it isn’t quite as simple. Colored or patterned socks, a creative (but subtle!) tie, cuff links, watches and belt buckles (again, subtle!) can help show your personality.

Just remember there is a fine line between tasteful and obnoxious in accessories.