The Ultimate Guide to Expensed Meals for Work

Employers can offer their teams easily expensed employee meals using DoorDash for Business.

10 min read
DDfW - Blog - The Ultimate Guide to Expensed Meals for Work - eating bowl of pasta

Business budgets are covering more than office stationary these days, and it's making a difference in the lives of their employees. Many companies are choosing to offer their employees, both remote and in-person, the benefit of recurring expensed meals. This could mean a regular Friday lunch paid by the company, covering dinner when working late, or tasty snacks for team meetings.

DoorDash for Business makes expensed meals for corporate teams easy for both employees and administrative teams. Here are some tips on why and how this will benefit your business.

Why offer subsidized meals to employees?

There are a host of reasons to offer subsidized meals to your employees. 

  • Offering employees perks: In addition to extended health benefits and lifestyle spending accounts, a meal expense program is a much-enjoyed job perk. In 2022, the Mercer report found that 21% of employers said they planned to add or enhance well-being initiatives that specifically targeted remote workers as part of their employee health package, which includes home delivery of meals or snacks.

  • Building camaraderie: Bringing your employees together to share a meal strengthens the bond between team members, including at company events like training sessions, lunch and learns, and town halls. Making group meals a priority has been shown to lower stress, boost camaraderie, and improve productivity. 

  • Celebrating events: A holiday party, birthday celebration, company milestone, or even an ad-hoc event is easily celebrated with meal allowances for employees. A staggering 79% of employees feel underappreciated at work, so congratulating an individual or awarding a team with a meal expense shows appreciation for your employees. 

  • Feeding clients: Setting employees up with business deductions for meals and incidental expenses gives employees the initiative to treat a client through one-time meal vouchers. Spend is effortlessly tracked, so you'll know which clients enjoyed a business meal on your account.      

  • Supporting employee well-being: Finding time and energy to prepare meals can be a challenge for busy employees. Offering expensed meals and gift cards shows that you care for your employees and value their well-being.

DDfW - Blog - The Ultimate Guide to Expensed Meals for Work - smiling employees around table

The benefits of expensed meals for corporate teams

Meal expenses are well-received across distributed work environments. Hybrid, remote, and in-person employees equally appreciate the opportunity to have their employer subsidize a fully deductible meal of their choice, wherever they're working. It can also be a great motivation for employees to spend time together in person. In a 2023 study, 28% of leaders said food and beverage programs topped the list of incentives to encourage employees to come into the office. Here are other benefits of expensed meals for teams:

  • Makes meals simple and accessible: Whether employees are traveling or working on location, having a DoorDash for Business account keeps business meals simple and accessible when employees' schedules are complicated. 

  • Controls costs: Hosting catered in-office lunches and ordering a small selection of meals from one provider has limitations. With various dietary and food preferences, one food type isn't inclusive. A single large order also requires estimating the numbers and hunger levels of a group of employees, which can result in wasted food and unnecessary costs. With expensed meals for teams, employers only need to cover the costs of what is specifically ordered. 

  • Keeps your company competitive: A 2023 study by employment agency Robert Half found that 58% of Canadian employers provide company-paid meals and snacks. When it comes to retaining valuable employees, meal expense allowances or per diem rates are significant job perks and can even be used as performance incentives. Considering food as a business expense is a progressive stance for any employer.

  • Empowers productivity: Encouraging employees to pause and enjoy their lunch improves productivity at work. Fueling employees' bodies and appetites regularly throughout the day increases concentration and enhances motivation. 

  • Motivates employees: Expensed meals can be particularly useful when offered as bonuses or short-term sales incentives to motivate teams to hit their goals.

What to consider when creating a meal allowance for employees

In a 2023 Mid-Year Benefits Benchmarking Study, food was the top category where employees submitted claims. Food is an essential need, so reducing the mental load of planning and packing meals is a significant company advantage. Adding food delivery to your employee benefits can increase employee satisfaction and reduce burnout. This is what to consider when creating a meal allowance for employees: 

Offering inclusive choices 

Employee meals are not one size fits all. Your team may have a variety of allergies, dietary requirements, and food preferences to navigate, so your employee meal plan must be inclusive. DoorDash for Business offers a wide variety of options with more than 500,000 merchants.

Scheduling flexibility 

Lunch may not happen at the same time for everyone. A subsidized meal plan must consider the variety of ways and times of day employees work. DoorDash for Business makes food orders convenient and accessible, with options available for delivery 24 hours a day.   

Centralized billing

Employers and employees alike don't want the extra paperwork of a complicated expense report. The administration of business meal deductions using DoorDash for Business is straightforward and managed in one central digital portal.

DDfW - Blog - The Ultimate Guide to Expensed Meals for Work - eating sushi with chopsticks

DoorDash for Business makes expensed meals simple

For a straightforward, easy-to-use, and comprehensive solution to making expensed meals simple to plan, consider DoorDash for Business for these reasons: 

  • Accessible: The DoorDash app is equally simple for employees and employers to use conveniently from their mobile phones.

  • Affordable: Enjoy unlimited $0 delivery and reduced service fees with the added benefit of DashPass for Employees.

  • Automated: Employees receive fully deductible or subsidized meals without needing to submit receipts. Orders are automatically expensed to the company account.

  • Efficient: Employers can review expenses in a single dashboard. Add the SAP Concur integration to send receipts directly to your expense report or reporting software. 

  • Trackable: Save time by downloading employee order history as a PDF or CSV. All meal expenses are tracked, and records are easily accessible in the case of an audit or tax deduction.

  • Manageable: Set and manage a food ordering budget for teams to order and expense employee meals.

  • Scalable: As your company grows, DoorDash for Business is easily scalable to accommodate new or changing staff members.

Reinforce company culture with subsidized meals for employees

Providing expensed and subsidized meals encourages employee wellness, which can strengthen company culture and benefit your business. Providing your employees with a variety of meal options that support their health and dietary needs can help save time, increase productivity, and make employees feel valued. 

DoorDash for Business makes it easy to offer expensed meals to your employees, whenever and wherever they're working. Sign up now or connect with our sales team to learn more about DoorDash for Business.


Jenn Riek

Jenn Riek

Content Marketing, DoorDash