Solution to Workers' Weeknight “What’s for Dinner” Dilemma

Take-home dinner entrees and bulk items from the café provide a great convenience for hospital employees in Maine.

After a long day at work, employees at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, ME, can give themselves a break by picking up something good to take home for supper on the way out.

Take-home items include cheese lasagna “roll ups,” individually wrapped salmon filets and kid-friendly breaded chicken tenders. Signature desserts like Junior Whoopie Pies and brownies are just the icing on the cake.

“People really appreciate this service, especially if they’re in a hurry or have worked late,” says Dennis Bouyea, Metz Culinary Management manager, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

Available for pickup until 6 p.m. in the hospital café, take-home meals are divided into two categories: single meals (protein and sides) to pop right into the microwave or frozen ready-to-make meals for up to 8-12 people. Many employees make their dinner selections while they’re down in the café for lunch—saving even more time.

Crab-stuffed sole with the choice of two sides (mix and match) is a popular single meal option, Bouyea says. Prices for such meals range between $2.50 and $4.50.

Cold salads are another choice, and they’re ‘Panera style,’ meaning more of a meal than a side. About 4,500 salads are sold to take home each year and about 3,500 microwave meals also find their way into employees’ homes, making life a little easier.

“Also, when people know they’re going to be entertaining, they can order things in bulk, like sausage, eggs and bacon for a holiday breakfast,” Bouyea says.

The meals and bulk items are packaged by existing staff, and Boyea says extra labor hasn’t been a problem at all, with everything being packaged throughout the day as extra items are made along with what’s available in the café during the day.