Shelf-Stable Meals Your Office Pantry Needs

    Exploring the rich (and delicious) potential of shelf-stable office meal options for your employees.

    Shelf-Stable Meals Your Office Pantry Needs

    It’s safe to say we've entered the golden era of shelf-stable meals–foods that can be stored at room temperature for months or years without refrigeration or cooking. The sad canned peaches and suspiciously unexpired snack cakes you remember from childhood, have been replaced by appetizing meals that appeal to all palettes, diets, and lifestyles, from Indian chana masala to superfood oatmeal. 

    If you have already invested in a pantry program that focuses on snacks or find yourself still considering the idea, you may be wondering why you need to add shelf-stable office meals to the roster of chips, bars and drinks that keep your employees fueled throughout the day. Well, sometimes chips just aren’t enough.  

    You can help your team make the most out of mealtime by providing them with filling packaged meals. You can also keep yourself within budget and avoid food waste along the way.

    In this blog, we offer a quick guide to helping you select the best shelf-stable meals for your office


    A Growing Appetite for Shelf-Stable Meals

    According to recent research, the global packaged food market reached a staggering value of USD 1,925.7 Billion in 2020 and is expected to increase further to USD 3,407.2 Billion by 2030. This shows a growing need for convenient, long-lasting food options that cater to the fast-paced lifestyles of people worldwide.

    Food plays a crucial role in shaping workplace dynamics and employee satisfaction. Additional research found that 65% of surveyed employees plan their office visits around the availability of free meals, highlighting how important food is in the workplace.

    On top of that, Americans are spending more than ever on groceries. CBS News reports that in 2022, US consumers allocated 11% of their disposable income to eating, the highest since 1991. Grocery prices have surged by over 21% since the beginning of 2021, outpacing the overall inflation rate of 18% during the same period. So, providing meals not only boosts employee morale but also eases financial stress.

    office meals for your corporate pantry


    How Shelf-Stable Meals Benefit Employers

    Shelf-stable meals aren’t just beneficial for employees, they can also be a lifesaver for the people tasked with stocking and maintaining food and beverage programs onsite. Here’s how:

    • Convenience: They don't need refrigeration, making them easy to store in office pantries or desk drawers.
    • Longevity: Shelf-stable meals have a longer shelf life, reducing the risk of food waste and the need for frequent restocking.
    • Flexibility: Offices can stock a variety of options to accommodate different tastes and dietary needs without worrying about spoilage.
    • Cost-effectiveness: Buying in bulk can be cost-effective, helping offices manage their food budgets efficiently.
    • Employee satisfaction: Employees appreciate having access to food options, especially during busy workdays, which can boost productivity.


    Dispelling Packaged Food Myths

    While it's true that packaged foods range in nutritional value, there are plenty of healthy options out there worth considering. Lightly processed foods can actually be quite handy for a few reasons. Firstly, they're convenient, cutting down on frequent trips to the store and making it easier to incorporate healthy options into your meals. Plus, they're often more affordable, which is a big deal, especially when trying to promote wellness on a budget. 

    Think about it, canned tuna costs a lot less than fresh fish. And let's not forget that shelf-stable options ensure you have access to a variety of nutritious foods year-round, like canned or frozen fruits and veggies, even when they're out of season. So, while some might turn their noses up at processed foods, they can actually be a practical and nutritious addition to your employees’ diets.


    Crafty’s Shelf-Stable Meal Recommendations

    If we've convinced you that shelf-stable meal options are a great fit for your office, you might be wondering where to start. Here's a handy guide to finding meal options that will satisfy your employees' cravings from breakfast to lunch, support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, accommodate various diets, and make lunchtime the highlight of the day.


    Balanced Breakfast Options 

    Getting to the office on time can often mean sacrificing a balanced, filling breakfast. Help your employees beat their hunger and perfect attendance records with various pantry-friendly breakfast options. At Crafty, Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits in Berry Fruitful, Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Brown Sugar & Maple Oatmeal Cup, and Kodiak Cakes Flapjack Power Cup in  Buttermilk & Maple are hits. 

    Crafty Culinary Hack: 

    Top up your favorite hot cereal or yogurt with fresh berries, creamy nut butter or sprinkle your favorite bar on top. 

    Office Pantry Breakfast Yogurt Hack

    Not Your Dorm Room Noodles 

    Packaged noodles were associated with late-night study sessions and low funds for a long time. But over the last few years, brands have taken over the aisle with globally-inspired takes on the heat and serve noodles. Try Annie Chun's Noodle Bowl in Teriyaki for a modern twist, or try an update on a classic with Nissin's Cup of Noodles in Spicy Chili Chicken flavor. 

    Crafty Culinary Hack: 

    Recreate your Ramen house memories by topping packaged ramen with a boiled egg and a seasoned seaweed sheet.  

    Office Pantry Lunch Cup of Noodles Hack (1)

    Fish To Go

    Tinned fish or canned fish, whatever you call it, package-sealed seafood is having a moment. Help your team members stay current and get a generous dose of vitamin D, vitamin B12, choline, iron, and more with conveniently packaged fish. Channel your inner Jessica Simpson with Chicken of the Sea Premium Light Tuna, or add a little punch to your salad with Bumble Bee Lemon & Pepper Seasoned Tuna Pouch (bonus, it comes with a spoon). 


    Mature Mac and Cheese 

     Mac and cheese cups have had a glow-up, with premium brands focused on organic ingredients and more adult-friendly cheeses. Loved by children and adults, Annie's Homegrown offers microwaveable mac and cheese cups made with organic pasta, aged cheeses and whole grains, without artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or preservatives.

    Crafty Culinary Hack: 

    We especially love “Emma's Mac Hack,” which combines Annie’s Mac and Cheese with melted cheese sticks and kettle chips for an extra crunch.

    Office Pantry Lunch Mac and Cheese Hack

    Global Flavors at Your Desk 

    Some of the world's best foods have been reimagined as grab-and-go, shelf-stable meals. Save your employees a trip to the local Thai restaurant or taco truck with ready-to-eat options that celebrate global flavors. Crafty clients can’t get enough of Annie Chun's Noodle Bowl Pad Thai or Fillo’s Walking Tamales. 


    Variety is the Spice of Life

    Keep things interesting by rotating your selection of shelf-stable meals regularly. Experiment with new flavors, cuisines, and ingredients to keep your taste buds stimulated and your meals exciting. Encourage coworkers to share their favorite meal hacks and drum up culinary camaraderie. Who knows, you might discover a new favorite dish that becomes a staple in your office pantry.

    Stocking your office pantry with shelf-stable office meals is a simple yet effective way to nourish your team, satisfy taste buds, and streamline mealtime. From ready-to-eat options to pantry staples and more, the possibilities are endless for creating delicious and nutritious meals that fuel productivity and foster well-being.

    Written by

    Amber Alston

    Crafty makes office food service easy
    Crafty Red Dash


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