Lunchtime is your opportunity to take a break from work, socialise with colleagues, and stay refreshed throughout the day. However, not everyone is excited about what they eat once it's time for their break. Earlier this year, the Telegraph reported that one in six people have had the same lunch for at least two years, and 81% of people were bored by their lunch choices.
It can be easy to become a creature of habit, so we want to shake up the lunch menus across the UK by looking for some inspiration overseas. With a wealth of research out there (including surveys, statistics, and reports) and a little guidance from our international team, we found the typical lunchtime meal from 10 different countries. Let's see how people across the globe are spending their lunchtimes and you'll hopefully be inspired to make a few changes to your own routine.
To find out what our own typical lunch looks like, we looked at search volume data and arrived at the humble 'soup and a sandwich' option. A staple across the UK, leak and potato topped our research for popular soups, and tuna was the most popular sandwich filler. We also seem to need a little midday pepping up, as coffee was the most searched for beverage and Maltesers topped our look into sugary snacks.
Across the pond, America seems to tuck into something a little more calorific, according to our findings. Pizza topped our research, and pepperoni proved to be the most popular variety. We also found that 62% of American professionals typically eat lunch at their desk, meaning they may be working through their lunch and not taking the break they need to recharge.
German delis have some of the best sausages you can find, and our research found German workers like to tuck into 'currywurst' (curry sausage) once lunchtime rolls around. Punctuality is always important in German society, meaning many workers hit their cafeteria as soon as noon strikes.
Germany's neighbours, Austria, tend to enjoy Schnitzel, though you can find them in many styles. Breaded and fried, you can enjoy Schnitzel from a thin cut of veal, chicken, beef, turkey, or pork to name just a few.
Home to some of the finest coffee in the world, it was no surprise our research found Italian workers frequently enjoy an espresso to help them get through the day. Known for taking their time to enjoy meals with the freshest ingredients, we welcome an Italian lunch any day of the week.
Just as we keep our lunches simple here in the UK, the French like to tuck into a ham sandwich come break time. It's known as a Parisian, as it uses slow-cooked ham (called 'Jambon de Paris') rather than dry-cured or smoked ham.
The Dutch lunch is a humble one, with a cheese sandwich, apples, and grapes making for a compact and simple lunch that would be welcome in schools and offices across the country. The Dutch love cheese so much, they eat about 17kg of cheese per person every year!
Similar to Italian pizzas, this is actually 'pide', a type of flatbread traditional in Turkey. Our research found spinach and feta as a popular variety, though you can also enjoy ones made with beef or lamb.
Without a doubt one of our most delicious findings, Indian lunches mean workers can tuck into all kinds of beautiful dishes. They're certainly more colourful than our British lunches, and the ornate chai tea set is simply stunning!
A bean stew with beef and pork, feijoada is often available at Brazilian barbecue restaurants and takeaways. Look out for it the next time you're looking for a new lunch spot to bring a South American twist to your break.
Insight from Kaleigh McMordie
After finding some delicious meals in our research, we couldn't help but wonder, is the UK lagging behind when it comes to truly enjoying its lunchtime breaks? To learn more, we asked Kaleigh McMordie, a registered dietitian nutritionist from Lively Table, how workers should be spending their breaks.
Some employees cut their lunches short or even eat at their desks while working if they're having a stressful day. Could you tell us what an ideal office lunch would look like?
Ideally, an office lunch would be long enough to give employees enough time to take a break from work, eat a balanced lunch and stretch their legs or move around in order to feel refreshed before returning to work. An hour is enough time to accomplish this. Eating too fast or working while eating can leave people feeling unsatisfied because they aren't taking the time to truly taste their food, feel full, and remember that they even ate! This can lead to cravings and weight gain.
An ideal lunch would consist of a variety of nutrients from protein, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. High-fat meals or meals that are too heavy can lead to people feeling sluggish, while a high sugar meal can lead to a "sugar crash" causing irritability or fatigue later on.
What benefits does an ideal office lunch have on employees, and therefore, also on the company?
People who take the time to eat a distraction-free lunch away from their desks with adequate time are more likely to consume an appropriate amount of food and be more satisfied with their meal. This is associated with less weight gain, leading to lower healthcare costs for the company. People who are allowed a break to eat an appropriate lunch come back to work feeling more energised and motivated in the afternoon.
What can companies improve to help employees have a more balanced/better office lunch experience?
The best thing companies can do is to provide healthier lunch and snack options that are fresh, appealing, and affordable to employees. They should also provide adequate time to eat and a designated place to have lunch and store food brought from home. Fresh drinking water should also be provided for employees to fill water bottles. Some companies have experimented with removing sodas from cafeterias and work sites, resulting in lower consumption of sodas by employees, but long-term results have not yet been determined.
Do any of these dishes tantalise your taste buds? What are your go-to lunchtime meals? Let us know on Twitter @viking_chat.
Search volume data for UK results gathered between 5th and 9th June 2017.