Kale Caesar! Salads top the menu for workday lunches

What's for lunch today? Desk jockeys are eating healthier these days.
What's for lunch today? Desk jockeys are eating healthier these days. Greek salad tops menu items, along with Caesar or kale (pictured) salads.Matthew Mead / Today

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By Martha White

If you are what you eat, then corporate America is veggies, Kalamata olives and feta cheese.

An analysis of online orders conducted by the food delivery service GrubHub Seamless, of the more than 25,000 restaurants in its network, found that Greek salad is the most popular workday lunch.

“Greek salad is easily the most popular,” said Allie Mack, GrubHub Seamless spokeswoman. “Mediterranean food is becoming such a lunch staple in downtown areas. It’s definitely something that’s trending” for lunch, she said. Traditionally, a Greek salad is made with tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, onion, feta cheese, and olives, seasoned with salt and oregano, and dressed with olive oil.

Another trend is that desk jockeys are picking more waistline-friendly dishes. After Greek salad, the next two most popular lunches nationwide are garden salad and Caesar salad, respectively, and "house salad” also makes the Top 10. In addition, salads have moved beyond simple iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato, to include trendier items such as kale and arugula.

"We’re seeing some healthier options,” Mack said. “Despite cities having such a wide variety of different menu items and types, people are going for healthier options regardless of what cuisine they’re ordering.”

Data from market research firm NPD Group suggests that more workers might eat hot and cold sandwiches, Mexican food and soups for lunch than GrubHub Seamless suggests, due to the growing popularity of food trucks, which tend to offer these types of food and are most often visited for lunch.

A few offbeat items particular to just one city turn up in GrubHub Seamless’s analysis: Washington, D.C. orders fruit salad, Los Angeles likes miso soup and Philadelphia eats seaweed salad.

Bostonians appear to crave spicy food — curry, spicy tuna and pad Thai are all in its top 10. “Sushi is really popular in Boston as opposed to other places,” Mack said. New York City tilts Mediterranean; Greek salad and hummus take the top two slots, respectively, and gyro sandwiches also make an appearance.

In contrast to California’s healthy-living reputation, paninis — not salads— are numbers one and two in San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively. Although San Francisco has a culturally eclectic top 10 list that includes Mexican, Thai and Mediterranean, only two salads make the list: garden salad is number seven and Greek salad makes an appearance at the bottom of the list.

Hopefully we’re not eating all those Greek salads at our desks because we’re too busy to take a break, though. A recent study in the Academy of Management Journal found that working through lunch — especially if you don’t want to — makes you more tired by the end of the day.