The clock, stomach and head agree: it’s time for the lunch break! Now you can talk to your colleagues about their weekend, get energized by a filling meal and relax in a good atmosphere. Basically, time for the perfect break!

That reality can look quite different might be apparent if you review your own break habits. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out how other employees in Germany spend their lunches on average?

That’s what we at Smunch wanted to figure out! We asked 5,000 employees what they usually ate in their lunch breaks, where they eat it and how long they usually take for it. An extensive overview of the results, including an interactive map of German states can be found here.

Just to give you a sneak peak: Did you know that employees in Thuringia and Saxony prefer to eat warm meals, while Hamburg is more interested in getting satiating food in their break? Or that women put more emphasis on eating healthy compared to men?

How do employees in your state usually spend their lunches? Find out more below!

Lunch at the Desk

Feasting at the desk
Another day you had to wipe off the crumbs from your desk because you hurriedly scarfed down a croissant while working on your laptop? No shame, you wouldn’t be alone in that! This phenomenon of eating lunch at the desk has become so common that a term has been established for it: “Desktop Dining.”

Every second participant said they worked a lot or often during their break. Bremen and Saxony-Anhalt are the frontrunners for that. Only 18 % say they can fully switch off and relax. A low number, considering the research shows that breaks make more productive.
Eating at desk

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania seems to go to extremes. It simultaneously has the highest number of employees claiming to work through without taking a break, while also having the most participants to never skip breaks. Tendentially Schleswig-Holstein and Brandenburg know how to relax best.

Whether you eat at your desk, in the office kitchen or in a restaurant, it impacts the quality of your break. But of course the where is not the only factor. It’s also about the length of your lunch break.


relaying at break

Scarfing down or slow and mindful eating

Legally, working for six hours or more permits employees at least half an hour of break. This minimum is often cut short by pressure from superiors or even from oneself. After all there’s emails to check, codes or texts to write and everything has to be done before the break.

In the age of constant digital availability it’s no surprise that the majority of workers only take 15-30 minute breaks. Bavaria does it a bit differently, leading the list by having the longest break time with over an hour, making up 8,8 %. Similar results were noticeable for Baden Württemberg, but here they also have the different extreme by also having the lowest number of people working without any break. Most breaks are generally skipped in Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.


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But differences are not just noticeable divided by state lines. Men and women also have different preferences tendentially. For example, every seventh woman says she’s not taking any break, while only every eleventh man claims the same. Men also generally take longer lunch breaks.

The perfect lunch for German states is supposed to be...

You’d think that Germans are used to eating warm meals for lunch. In reality, that doesn’t seem to apply to office lunches, as only 26 % of employees would prefer it over cold. A more important factor, particularly for women, seems to be nutrition. Men put more emphasis on the taste. These factors of course don’t exclude the possibility of it being warm at the same time.


hot food


That the food should be satiating without weighing you down, is especially important to employees in Hamburg and Saarland. Both factors roughly interest 25% of the participants in Germany.Taste and affordability go hand in hand most noticeably in Eastern Germany. Even if the price is only important to every seventh person asked on average, it is more noticeably so here. Hessen really values quick meals, while this isn’t as big a factor for Saxony-Anhalt. They do meet however on the issue of prefering healthy food.


healthy lunch break


In conclusion we shouldn’t feel alone in our lunch habits. Other states share similar behaviours, have too short or very long breaks and eat cold, quick meals at their desk some days, while wanting to eat healthy overall.

Still, maybe this is the time to reflect on your own tendencies, especially regarding the skipping of breaks or eating at the desk. Maybe you should be kinder to yourself. Let the lunch break be the first place to start.


All the best,

Smunch Team

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