Secrets to company cafeteria meals that employees can’t resist Meet the experts behind the delicious and healthy “Kagawa Nutrition University Cafeteria Lunch”
Managing and promoting employee health is a top priority for Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP). Serving nutritious meals at our company cafeterias is a good start, but the food also must taste and look good to get employees licking their lips. One of the most popular meals served at DNP’s cafeterias is the Kagawa Nutrition University Cafeteria Lunch. The Editorial Department of the DNP Features section that introduces the people making a difference interviewed Yuki Otsuka and Chihiro Nakamura, two registered dieticians at DNP Facility Services Co., Ltd. – a wholly owned DNP subsidiary – who develop healthy menu items that satisfy employees and tickle their taste buds at the same time.
- Secret 1 to being popular: Variety is the spice of life – at least 10 different main dishes to choose from
- Secret 2 to being popular: Satisfying meals with only around 650 calories
- Wholesome menu items developed in collaboration with Kagawa Nutrition University
- Using seasonal ingredients whenever possible, and striking a balance between taste and nutrition
- Enhancing employees’ health awareness so they eat more well-balanced meals
Yuki Otsuka (left)
Contract Food Division
DNP Facility Services
Registered dietician engaged in hygiene management and compiling Kagawa Nutrition University Cafeteria Lunch menu for DNP cafeterias across Japan
Chihiro Nakamura (right)
Contract Food Division
DNP Facility Services
Registered dietician who compiles menus served at the DNP head office cafeteria and is in charge of food presentation
Secret 1 to being popular: Variety is the spice of life – at least different 10 main dishes to choose from
At lunchtime, DNP employees flock to the spacious cafeteria in the head office in Tokyo. At the entrance, employees carefully check menu samples placed on a round table specifically designed to allow as many people as possible to view the dishes at once. The cafeteria offers more than 10 main dishes to choose from, in addition to side dishes, desserts and a variety of breads. This impressive selection ensures employees will not get bored with the cafeteria meals even if they eat there every day.
Secret 2 to being popular: Satisfying meals with only around 650 calories
The Kagawa Nutrition University Cafeteria Lunch (Eidai Lunch) is popular with employees. This meal consists of a substantial main dish, a side dish, soup and whole rice, and has only around 650 calories in total. It has less than 3.9 grams of salt and more than 120 grams of vegetables. As well as being good for your health, this dish is reasonably priced at ¥460 (U.S. $4.20). On an average day, between 10 percent and 20 percent of diners at the cafeteria select this lunch.
Non-fried pork cutlet is another crowd-pleaser. These cutlets would conventionally be deep-fried, but instead the cafeteria cooks them in an oven with a small amount of oil. This healthier cooking method keeps the breadcrumb coating crispy and the pork juicy. The cutlet comes with a generous serving of vegetables to provide protein and dietary fiber.
“We make the main dish filling yet low in calories by avoiding deep-frying and using broth,” said Nakamura. “We also use whole rice, which is rich in vitamins. Many employees choose the Eidai Lunch three to five times a week. Some employees who regularly eat the lunch have told us they lost weight, and eating wholesome meals pleases their family members worried about their health.”
Healthy menu items developed in collaboration with Kagawa Nutrition University
The cafeteria offered some well-balanced dishes before the Eidai Lunch was launched in 2012, but few employees chose these items, Otsuka said.
“Those dishes were nutritiously well-balanced, but they were quite bland and not very filling,” said Otsuka. “Less than five percent of cafeteria visitors chose these meals.”
To improve this situation, DNP Facility Services reached out to Kagawa Nutrition University, a private university near Tokyo that was known for providing wholesome, attractive meals to its students.
Using seasonal ingredients whenever possible, and striking a balance between taste and nutrition
DNP Facility Services started the nutrition university lunch in January 2012 when a new cafeteria opened at the DNP building. Otsuka was in charge of developing menu items.
“We tweaked the university’s recipes to meet certain calorie and salt content targets,” Otsuka said. “To satisfy even hearty eaters, we added low- or non-calorie vegetables and seaweed to the meals. We also tailored the recipes to accommodate the different ingredients and seasonings available to each cafeteria.”
Meal presentation is another important factor. Nakamura said: “We try to arrange vegetables in a way that gives the meals more volume. It is important our sample dishes show people they can get a delicious lunch containing plenty of vegetables.”
The nutrition university lunch had been introduced to 18 other DNP cafeterias across Japan as of 2019.
Enhancing employees’ health awareness so they eat more well-balanced meals
Nakamura and Otsuka agreed that the popular embrace of the Eidai Lunch has positively influenced employee health awareness.
“Many employees tell us they prepare healthy meals at home based on ingredients and methods used for the Eidai Lunch, or that they became more mindful of the volume, nutrients and calorie content of their daily meals,” Nakamura said. “I am glad that our cafeteria menu has made employees more aware of the importance of having a healthy diet.”
Otsuka added: “We have built up a pool of recipes since we started the lunch several years ago. We want to use this experience for making other menu items and supporting employees to make healthy food choices. We hold workshops to introduce our recipes in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district. We want to hold these workshops more often and in other locations so more employees can participate in them.”
Providing well-balanced meals motivates employees to do well and increases their productivity, according to studies. In recent years, many companies have started providing wholesome meals at their cafeterias as part of their employee health management. DNP is no exception. It is committed to serving meals that are delicious, healthy and enrich the lives of its employees.
A book of DNP cafeteria recipes, “Hatarakuhito no genki reshipi” (Recipes for energizing working people), published in 2020.
For details (in Japanese), see this media release dated March 9, 2020:
- * Publication date: May 15, 2019
- * Please note that the posted information is as of the date of publication.