May 6, 2022 • • 5 min read

Canteen Spend: The Lunchtime Survey | Just Eat for Business

Our survey on canteen spend reveals employees’ perceptions of in-office canteens and employer catering.

Canteen Spend: The Office Lunchtime Survey

As many of the nation’s employees have settled back into office life, lunch and snack breaks have again become the highlight of the working day. 

While some favour meal deals and others opt for packed lunches, what about those of us who have access to office canteens? With deliver-in models and prepayment services such as Just Eat Pay readily available to employers, we wanted to see how the different workplace food provisions compare.

Just Eat for Business’ Canteen Spend study surveyed over 200 employees to reveal perceptions of in-office canteens to find what aspects employees enjoy, and what could be improved. The study also looked to evaluate how catered lunches impact our attitude towards work, and how valued food at work is as a recruitment perk.

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Lunch Break Habits

We’re all different when it comes to how we see our lunch break - whether it’s what we choose to eat, where we choose to go, or whether we fully switch off from work. The survey found that 27% of employees always buy their lunch from the office canteen, while 1 in 5 employees decide to venture out sometimes and buy their lunch elsewhere, such as a supermarket or a café, a few times a week. 

As for how much we’re willing to spend on a work lunch, it appears that for the majority of us, keeping costs low is a priority. In fact, 67% of employees spend less than £5 on lunch at a time - so it’s no surprise that subsidised or catered-for lunch breaks are exciting for office teams, as they provide a greater variety and quality of food at no expense to the employee. 

The quality of food is a priority when it comes to where and what we choose to eat at lunchtime. When asked about the food available at their work canteen, there’s some room for improvement - with 59% of those surveyed saying that the quality of food offered at their canteen could be better.  

We all have different needs and requirements when it comes to mealtime, whether that be dietary requirements or personal preference. The survey found that dissatisfaction with canteen food is fuelled primarily by a lack of variety.

A third of employees wish their canteen offered more food variety, while 1 in 5 wish that their canteen offered healthier food options. It’s not surprising that this is the case, given that a fifth of employees find it difficult to be healthy at work.


Work Lunch Perks

As we’ve seen before in our Lunch Break Bonding study, the benefits of lunch breaks don’t solely circulate around the food. While fuelling our bodies with the right food is important, previous research shows that lunch breaks can massively impact employee wellbeing and workplace satisfaction.

When asked about their lunch break habits 22% of employees report that they enjoy eating in a social atmosphere. Because of this, 1 in 10 believe team lunches are a great work perk, while 11% would strongly consider joining a company if they were provided food at work. 

The survey revealed that having lunch costs covered is attractive for many; so it’s surprising that over half (55%) of employees have never had their employer cater for them. 

Azmaira Maker, Clinical Psychologist, weighs in on how catered food can benefit not just employees, but employers too: 

“In providing high-quality and healthy food, an organisation aims for healthy and alert employees who have the right kind of fuel in them to keep them performing at their best. And when employers pay due attention to this aspect of the employee’s welfare, they do more than just rack up benefits for the employees. They also open the doors of the organisation to several associated benefits ranging from goodwill to a healthier and more engaged workforce.”

When it comes to implementing and managing a canteen, the process is costly and admin-heavy - especially when compared to in-office deliveries. For many, the cost of setting up a canteen can be as high as £1 million for a free refurb, while a mid-size canteen can run upwards of £400k to create.

The cost of managing a canteen can be high too, as total subsidies vary from £100k to £1 million per year, with mid-size canteens priced at between £250k - £500k and enterprise-sized canteens needing £750k to run. And this doesn’t take into account additional costs, such as hospitality meetings or fine dining provisions.

So, how can organisations still provide all the benefits of a work canteen, without making a substantial investment and dealing with construction work?



While the survey data shows that a large portion of employees enjoy the social aspect of eating together and would like their employer to provide more opportunities to do so, variety and suitable options are a priority.

As we’ve seen, providing your team with perks such as team lunch a couple times a week can really make a difference. So, if you want to treat your team to a range of delicious cuisines available from a variety of restaurants - with a cost-effective and easy-to-manage solution - Just Eat Pay is a great way to ensure that everyone can enjoy a team lunch together.