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The members of my team always go "for lunch" all together and invariably always to the same shop nearby, just to grab the cheap sandwich and then eat in the office. I would strongly prefer to eat more normal food, there are completely affordable public canteens nearby, slightly more expensive (not even twice). Is it possible to disengage from the team without creating tensions of the kind "he does not like us"? What is the best, most professional phrase to say I am going on my own?

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    I already left an answer, but one clarification that may help -- is your issue that you don't want to eat the same food they are, or that you don't want to socialize with them over lunch? You might get different responses depending on the issue.
    – ZachTurn
    Sep 21, 2021 at 17:36
  • Does this answer your question? How can I politely decline a team lunch? Sep 22, 2021 at 16:38

3 Answers 3

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just to grab the cheap sandwich and then eat in the office

"Thanks team, I think I'm going to eat _____ instead. I'll meet you back in the cafeteria/break room/etc."

There's no obligation to eat the same food as them, and since they bring it back to the office anyways, you can still be a part of the group (if you desire).

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  • This is gonna backfire. "Oh so Joe's Sandwich shop isn't good enough for you now?"
    – Jack
    Sep 23, 2021 at 10:54
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    @Jack across multiple companies and social circles in each I'm not sure if I've ever had someone get personally offended over what I chose to eat or not. If that was someone's reaction then OP probably would benefit from avoiding those coworkers anyway.
    – ZachTurn
    Sep 23, 2021 at 11:41
  • It's a status thing. The OP mentioned that the only reason they go is because the sandwiches are cheap. This is implying the OP is better than them and would not eat that cheap drivel which would likely offend the co-workers.
    – Jack
    Sep 24, 2021 at 6:32
  • @Jack I disagree. I believe OP meant "cheap" to be a proxy for low quality meals vs "more normal food", and even stated it was not that much more expensive (so it is not the "I only dine at Michelin restaurants while you plebs eat your sandwiches" situation).
    – Lodinn
    Sep 24, 2021 at 15:22
  • It's perfectly reasonable to want something more substantial than a sandwich for lunch. I seriously doubt people would hold it against you. I've worked places where most people go to a cafeteria, and where most eat lunch in the break room that they've brought in. And either way, not everybody does the same or holds it against others. The downside is likely to be feeling less of a part of the company and not catching up on all the gossip.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 25, 2021 at 17:06
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One option is to find another takeout place and meet with the rest of the team after each gets their own takeout. You would still eat with the team.

Or if you want to go someplace else, that's fine too, as long as you make sure that you seperating from the team is simply because of the food choice and everybody understands that.

Just be proactive and ask the others to join you.

Hey guys, I heard there is a nice place just around the corner, it's called X. I'd really like to try it out, you want to join me? I though about lunch today, but we can make it tomorrow or even friday if that's better.

Now the ball is in their court. Maybe they don't like the place, maybe they don't want to change their routine, but that's on them. You certainly tried.

If the team is large enough, they might even split up depending on personal choices. We always had the daily menus of the canteens around us and would decide based on what people wanted to eat. If someone really craves asian food today, I'm not going to hold that against them. Next day it might be a burger we both want and the day after maybe I'm in a hurry and just have a sandwich and they go get a lasagna. There is no need to spent the lunch break together, it only gets akward if it's not about food choices.

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  • This would probably be the best - if the social part is not an issue but the food choice is, one can make an entire team or a part of it switch to a supposedly better option. If the social aspect is problematic, one can simply decline an invitation or say something along the lines of "I'll be following my own routine" - in a few occasions I had to experience this, there was not a single time they'd follow up with something negative.
    – Lodinn
    Sep 24, 2021 at 15:25
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Since they return to the office, you can occasionally join them upon their return, and see how it goes. Maybe you can go with them every so often. Don't make a big deal about where they go, just share some camaraderie with them

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