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Do you cook or bake for your coworkers?

I work in a fairly friendly environment and at the holidays or for special occasions, many of us will cook or bake, but there is one particular person who does this year round, just randomly, which averages to nearly every other day. It doesn't really bother me, as I usually just walk by whatever treats are on the communal table, but some of my colleagues have expressed that they find this behavior somewhat odd particularly when the treats are specifically labeled "for the boss, but you guys can share a few." Do you routinely cook or bake for your coworkers?

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  1. I don't always cook or bake for my coworkers. But every once in a while I will buy a dozen donuts or something to that effect and bring it in. I think all of us do that at my workplace. I would do it more often if I had more money but everyone at work is on a tight budget lately. So we are kinda limited to how often we bring things into work. But every so often we will have organized random days where we just all bring food and pig out on that.

    1. A) I used to haave a coworker whose considerable worries were eased by the process of baking, so she brought goodies to work several times a week. We appreciated it but felt like we were moochers and were concerned about the money it was costing her. Things evolved into a collection kitty which paid for her ingredients, with the surplus going to the charity which our office supported year in, year out.
      B) The label may have been meant as a joke.
      C) If the label's not in jest, it's brown-nosing and it's objectionable.

      4 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        I should specify, it's not an actual label but what she says when people inquire in the morning-"oh this is for *the boss*, I didn't make enough for everyone but you can share a couple."

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          That sounds really weird to me.

          I cook and bake a lot. I rarely bring it to work.

          I am the boss, so I would worry that they might think they should eat it (and like it) even if they didn't. I also know that most have some sort of restriction(calories, gluten free, etc) so it wouldn't work well, in my case.

          1. re: sedimental

            that's where I am, too....

            I do bring stuff in from time to time, but it's a little weird as the boss -- so I usually keep it to donuts from the independent shop that nobody else goes to (they love the donuts I get there..everybody else buys Dunkin Donuts. No biggie -- the price is the same, and it's 5 minutes out of my way, so it's nice that I can bring the "special" donuts)

            Additionally, my team is unusually health-conscious -- there's a real trend at our office for eating clean and healthy, and quite a few of us have various allergies and sensitivities, so we just don't collectively eat a lot of sweets.

            (they do appreciate it when I do bring in goodies, though)

        2. re: greygarious

          Your first point reminds me of my mom's situation the last few years before she retired. She loved to bake. After my dad died, she lost some of the regular opportunities to bake for a crowd and hence started brining in more and more to her workplace. But she was on a limited income. They did a similar thing--pooled money for birthday and other celebrations--and that went toward Mom's ingredients twice per month. And when my siblings and I bought her a new cabinet stove when hers died, the company sent over one of its guys to install it for free. They also bought her a very nice stand mixer for her retirement and continued a 1x month donation for her to bake for them. She still goes in with baked goods about 1 or 2 times per month. They get her great food; she has a structure for staying connected.

        3. During the last presidential election I volunteered one afternoon a week at a county party headquarters. The paid workers were mostly very young and were existing on coffee, Coke and sugar. I started bringing in 'real' food, i.e., fixings for tacos. They and their parents thanked me :)

          The situation you describe seems quite odd.

          1. I've been bringing in food to share with my colleagues because I'm hoping to find some real enthusiasm for my culinary efforts. Neither DD nor semi-estranged DH have much interest in my foodie explorations. I've gotten some positive responses at work, but mainly for baked goods and other treats. Of my savory items, I got some favorable reaction from the quinoa kale salad and roasted beets, but no one availed themselves of the roast pork tenderloin.

            1. If they're only really "for the boss" then why even leave them out at the communal table. And every other day?!? Yeah, that's a bit excessive considering they're only supposed to be meant for one person. It all sounds very odd to me.

              But to answer the question, when I do bake and I have leftovers, I'll bring them into the office. This only averages out to be about twice a year for me, though.

              3 Replies
              1. re: SaraAshley

                She bakes for the rest of us as well, but then other days for the boss. The treats will be very openly on her desk and people get understandably confused.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  yeah, that's a pretty special brand of...something.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Maybe she doesn't have enough for everybody on those occasions and figures
                    saving it for the boss is neutral? If she's doing it primarily to satisfy her own hobby rather than a need to feed everyone.
                    I still think it's weird and I wouldn't do that on a regular basis. If I'm only sharing with a few I just offer discreetly to them.

                2. I bake - I work for a large law firm, and in my department, we bring in treats to celebrate coworkers' bdays and the bdays of our respective attorneys. Today I made a chocolate bundt cake that is particularly popular in my office (one of my coworkers has declared it "the best chocolate cake ever"), and yesterday I made a pan of Mark Bittman's blondies, both of which I will bring in tomorrow to celebrate one of my attorneys' bdays. I do it b/c I enjoy it, and b/c my coworkers love my baked goods.

                  I feel like if you can't bring in enough for everyone, you shouldn't advertise that it's only for a select few.

                  1. I have my own cleaning business so I don't bake for coworkers but up until recently I sent goodies to work with my bf for his coworkers. For the first several years my once a month treat was greedily consumed, but recently a new boss and a few calorie counting coworkers asked me to stop to cut down their temptation. I sadly complied. I liked having the baking outlet to hone my weak skills and miss it.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: suzigirl

                      That sounds very ungreatful, especially if there were still others who enjoyed your baking. People need to be responsible for their own choices.....

                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        So true. Many have expressed frustration at the constant temptation but it's easy to just walk by.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          not always -- I had my eyes opened by an acquaintance who was morbidly obese (but met her as she was working with a doctor to healthfully get back to a healthy weight) --

                          She actually stopped going to WalMart because she could not "just walk by" the McDonald's....she would end up with an order of fries every time she went through the door.

                          I felt bad for her -- and her doctor was in the process of referring her to a mental-health practitioner for further help.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Back a million years ago, I was super skinny (stressful job) cause I was missing meals regularly. I went to the gym with a granola bar equivalent or something like that that I scarfed down prior to working out. After a while I was asked by the staff to please eat it before coming in as it was kinda not real kind for others who couldn't eat anything without gaining weight.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              I apologize, and I agree. I do believe that food can be addicting, actually I am often the one arguing in favor of those people on the "600 lb" shows that they really are addicted and a different approach might be needed. I routinely do not even go investigate so that I don't know if there's something I might like. Ignorance is bliss.

                              1. re: charmedgirl

                                Everyone I know has some boundary issues with *red flag* foods. I have to set serious and very firmly enforced personal boundaries with luxurious rich foods. I love them. Smoked oysters..... smoked salmon...all smoked fish really...chicken livers with caramelized onions, mushrooms and wine, expensive cheeses, good beef, smoked brisket,cheesy Italian dishes, I love all of those things and can consume a whole dish on auto pilot. Sweets are not my thing so I am fortunate in that area. But I have to plan for my splurges and if those dishes were offered to me frequently by a well meaning individual I would *cave*. I have no doubt. That is how weak I am.

                              2. re: fldhkybnva

                                I would like to clarify "easy for me to just walk by." I completely understand that many cannot. I have my own things that I can't resist like many of the treats at the salad bar in the cafeteria. It sounds silly, but not being able to control myself around artichoke hearts is still a problem for me so now I just don't go there. It's probably easier for me to walk by because I don't have much of a sweet tooth, however most of my other coworkers love sugar and so I imagine it's more difficult for them. I hope I didn't offend anyone, that wasn't my intention.

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  nope, you're good. I've only come across the one person whose addiction was bad enough to warrant psychological help....I just figured not everyone had come across it.

                            2. re: suzigirl

                              This is my fear. I worry that coworkers will resent it because I hear people jokingly complaining about having all the calories in the workplace. But are they just joking...? Hmmm...

                              1. re: NancyChin

                                I used to work in what we called a professional church social. We got a lot of work done, but with 50-some people in the office, it was always a holiday, somebody's birthday, or a shower of one sort or another.

                                The food was *awesome* -- most everyone was a great cook, but yeah, I was at my alltime heaviest when I worked there.

                            3. That situation sounds really weird.
                              I've worked in a number of offices as a temp as well as my longer term jobs and either the goodies were left in the kitchen/common area with a note to help yourself, or the teams working together within the office (4-6 people) would bring in baked goods for their team and any leftovers would go to the common area.
                              I think the treats for the boss is going to backfire on the brown-noser.....its just a matter of when

                              1. Yes. I'm the pastry chef, so they get odds and ends on a regular basis, but occasionally I will bake something special for staff. Last weekend I made pineapple upside-down cake. It was delicious.

                                1. I bake for my coworkers probably once a month or so. It's a great way to test out new recipes; my family will only eat so much and I hate throwing away food.

                                  Case in point: tried a new brownie recipe last week. Kept out about six brownies out of a 9x13 pan and took the rest to the office. Some people will never touch the stuff for dietary reasons, others wait eagerly for my next baking day. I am just happy to always take home an empty plate and to have willing guinea pigs.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jlhinwa

                                    I use my co-workers as guinea pigs too. I love the wide variety of feedback I can get. Thankfully they enjoy being my testers. I find baking therapeutic so I'm happy they can help offset the inches from my waistline ;)

                                  2. I work at a small business; our size over the years has fluctuated between 5-10 employees. All of us, myself included, from time to time bring in sweet or savory baked goods, often things that are leftover from family celebrations -- generally home-baked, but occasionally not. (In the case of my male colleagues, it's always their wives who are the bakers.) In addition, I distribute tins of homemade cookies to everyone as Christmas/ Channukah gifts every year.

                                    1. Never. Work and play should not mix.

                                      Which keeps the harassment allegations next to nil.

                                      This has not precluded me from meeting my coworkers after work. And enjoying their company. And comestibles.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                        How is bringing in baked goods even approaching harassment?

                                        1. re: debbiel

                                          Please do not serve croissants to a Turk. Or most Muslims from the near east.

                                          What is your office policy during Ramadan?

                                          How do your Jewish coworkers feel about those leavened muffins during Passover. Or the pie crust made with lard?

                                          Saints, Muslims, and AA folk take a dim view of celebrations and gifts involving alcohol.

                                          Does the company provide a fridge and microwave for Halal and Kosher use only?

                                          Nothing like bringing in your favorite teas and coffees to let your Saints feel like a part of the team.

                                          Don't forget the Vegans and some Buddhists who want only animal free goodies.

                                          I realize that many do not have the pleasure of working in a diverse cultural environment. But it is more than bringing in the latest horrors from a muffin show on TV. Think dairy free, caffeine free (No Chocolate!), alcohol free, and enough for everybody to have a whole one. And try to be sensitive to the gluten intolerant and the pregnant executive with a current aversion to yeasty smells.

                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                            I live in Dubai.

                                            Croissants is hugely popular among the Muslim communities here. Particularly the Lebanese and Syrians, who consume croissants with zataar religiously. Croissants is found for sale even in more local markets patronized primarily by Muslims and other Arab expats. I see Muslim ladies fully garbed in the traditional black abayas happily eating croissants in Lebanese owned cafes and coffee shops.

                                            Life is not quite as severe as you may make it out to be. If people have dietary restrictions, it's their onus to comply with it, not infringe those restrictions on others.

                                            1. re: Roland Parker

                                              And I got my butt reamed about the croissants by a Lebanese Christian.

                                              All of the examples are based on my experience working Equal Opportunity and Human Resources for the last 35 years. And the world continues to change. I love it.

                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                Wow. I would have sworn you were joking with that first post. I guess not. Just, wow.

                                            2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                              hubby worked in a mostly-Orthodox Jewish office for many years.

                                              Everybody brought in treats, marked whether they were kosher or not.

                                              Those who wanted to partake did; those who didn't, didn't. And there were a few who, we're pretty sure, opted to eat it all -- their choices.

                                              Not a ruffled feather in all those years.

                                              Reaming someone for having done something out of the kindness of their heart is assholery of the highest level. A company-sponsored meal must, however, make accommodations for all (the cafeteria in that company is kosher)

                                        2. .....well depending on the number of bosses I have on any given day...........I do bring for them but for all the others too. it's for whoever is hankerin for a treat or cookie or candy or....if I leave all the cookies etc. I make at home, we'll eat 'em all...

                                          1. Basically never. I don't bake, and the people in my home limit sweets, so if, for example, I make a banana bread, I might have one piece and one other piece might be eaten, but the rest ends up sitting until it rots. So I don't really bake. On rare occasions when I feel like baking, I might bring in the leftovers - I did this recently with a carrot spice cake I wanted to try to make. It came out pretty good but I really don't need the extra calories that baked goods provide so I just eat one piece and then don't eat any more. Bringing it in was a good way to get rid of the rest, but I couldn't afford to do it in any kind of regular basis.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                              I don't bake much so the cost factor never entered my mine, but now that many have mentioned it, I'm thinking she must be spending a good bit on these treats.

                                            2. Not really, although I have brought in excess baked goods a few times. However, one of the female VPs here brings in cookies all the time. She loves to bake and has lost quite a bit of weight over the last several years. She still bakes, just brings it in for the hungry hordes. Luckily, I don't have much of a sweet tooth.

                                              1. OMG, yes. They expect cookies every Christmas and eagerly await any leftover party tidbits I have made. Desserts and apps are also expected at special functions and profound disappointment is expressed if I can't make it.
                                                I'm actually printing out all of my Christmas cookie recipes for distribution as they all want to make them at home.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                  I think this is so funny. I used to bake frequently for the office, because it is a stress reliever for me, but the atmosphere has become such that I resent bringing in stuff (that I've spent money and time on) so I rarely do it anymore. But I never do it when the boss is there, because I dislike him so much that I want him to miss whatever treats I do bring in! Petty, sure, but that's how I feel.

                                                  "During the last presidential election I volunteered one afternoon a week at a county party headquarters. The paid workers were mostly very young and were existing on coffee, Coke and sugar. I started bringing in 'real' food, i.e., fixings for tacos. They and their parents thanked me :)"

                                                  I did this once for volunteers/students working on a local campaign. They really did appreciate it, and I had another outlet that I could feel good about.

                                                  1. re: Kosherbyforce

                                                    Oh, so sorry to hear that. I work in a wonderful setting (21st year) where there are no distinctions between administrative, professional and support staff. We just do for each other upon request and trust that everyone does their job. I'm happy to bake for them, print recipes and show up at special functions when I can (I'm an outside contractor and not always there.) I've been told that I have it very good, and I'm flattered to always be in demand.

                                                    No, you're not being petty. Food is to be shared with those you love. I'm glad you found an outlet where your influence may affect food policy decisions made by one of your volunteers - upon election to the Senate 20 years from now. You never know.

                                                2. At my first job after college I joined a small team within a larger office environment. My team was highly appreciative of good food and we regularly went out to interesting restaurants for lunch. For special events I would make something like a plain almond cake, which everyone loved as they appreciated the quality over quantity. When I eventually left the job I treated everyone to a homemade lunch at a local park, and served two different quiches and salads.

                                                  The rest of the office was, well, let's just say that when we came back from a Thai restaurant one day, a secretary from the main office said, "my God, I can't imagine anyone eating all that *strange* food." The people at the main office were very nice, but when it came to, say, the holiday potluck parties, it was the carryout fried chicken from a local convenience store and supermarket cakes that disappeared first while the handful of clearly home made dishes lingered largely untouched, despite that we had several staff members of Indian and Asian heritage who made fabulous dishes from their heritage.

                                                  So I quickly learned it wasn't worth my time or effort to cook for my larger group of coworkers. But I'm still glad I got to share my baked dishes within my highly appreciative team.

                                                  1. I don't do it routinely, but on occasion, I want to bake a Lemon Blueberry Sour Cream Cake, or some cookies, or brownies, or whatever. Since I live along, no WAY is all going to stay in my house! So I take some for home; the rest comes into work.

                                                    But NEVER would I label something "for the boss" - if it's put out in the ktichen, it's for everyone.

                                                    1. No. And (silently) resent those who do.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                                          Because, while I *can* resist temptation, I resent *having* to do so.

                                                      1. We're a small group of eight and sometimes I or others will bring something in for a birthday or just because - it's no big deal.

                                                        Speaking as a boss, however, I would find it totally weird to have someone bring things in just for me once, let alone regularly – we'd be having a conversation about that.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Athena

                                                          the only two times I made something just for a boss was on their respective birthdays (two different bosses)

                                                          One was a French Silk pie for a guy whose wife was on a weight-loss crusade and spawned one of the greatest diet lines ever: Dark chocolate, butter, whipped cream? Sounds like Atkins to me!!

                                                          The other was a giant chocolate-chip cookie for a really great guy -- we were quite friendly with he and his wife, and he's still my favorite boss ever. He was a real nut for chocolate-chip cookies, so it was a running joke about having one enormous cookie all to himself. Glad I baked that cookie for him -- he left the company not long after that. We stayed in close touch until his death a couple of years later.

                                                        2. I work at a high school. My husband and I should not eat all my baking goods. I do t bake often but do so for the practice and fun. I bring in leftovers knowing they will be devoured. I let a few people know they are there but leave them out for everyone. There are too many toile enough for the hundred teachers and three buildings is far to travel.

                                                          I also randomly bring baked goods or food to friends in town if I have too much.

                                                          1. Absolutely - I consider Monday mornings at the office as my own personal garbage disposal. I have a cooking blog, so I'm cooking on the weekends whether I have time to eat it or not. I also like to experiment, and often cook in larger quantities than my husband and I could eat. I enjoy feeding people and getting feedback on new recipes, so it's win-win for everyone. We work extra hours at busy season, so the firm provides meals for the staff several times a week. Since I do the ordering, I'm aware of staff food allergies (and some preferences). I also "pay" a coworker to do some professional work for me with food of his choice.

                                                            It's understood that if I put food out, it's for anyone, but no one expects me to feed the whole office and when it's gone it's gone. So far no problems have come up.

                                                            The only things I avoid are stinky foods for obvious reasons. Microwave popcorn was banned in my office, but no one has said a word to the lady who microwaves fish twice a week. :(

                                                            1. Sporadically. My husband doesn't eat flour so if I want to try out a bread or dessert recipe, it's going to work. Maybe once every 6-8 weeks or so. We meet for a briefing at 6am, so I don't bring anything too rich or non portable. Cranberry walnut bread has gone over well in the past. No one else brings treats so it's not overwhelming.

                                                              It's definitely bizarre to bring something just for the boss. An exception might be if my boss has requested something (don't see that happening) or if it was for her birthday but even then, it would be shared. If I did bring something just for her, I wouldn't make a big stink about it.

                                                              1. I do, because I love to bake and experiment, and my roommates and I can only eat so much, so I end up taking a lot of it to the office. I find it interesting that the more unusual goodies always remain largely untouched (nobody wanted to try the orange cardamom cookies! or the chocolate rosemary! but chocolate chip, peanut butter, etc. were all gone within the hour).

                                                                Although I actually hate having people know that I was the one who brought stuff in. For a while I would just stealthily leave a box of baked goods in the pantry and sneak away to my desk and people would wonder who the baking fairy was... then someone ratted me out! (I fret constantly that someone will think I'm only bringing stuff in to be a brown-noser or to fish for compliments. Gaaah.) Ideally I would have remained the Anonymous Baking Fairy forevermore.

                                                                1. Sounds like you work with my SIL. She pulls those kind of stunts....like brings goodies in and complains when people don't just hang and chat. The next day she'll complain about the loud talker a couple cubes away. And she complains that nobody else brings in stuff.....it's a no win.

                                                                  When I worked in an office, I would bring different things in (baked goods, soups, etc). My chocolate chip cookies were such a hit, I had to package them individually and hand them out. I discovered this when a co-worker had 6 of them at his desk (mind you, these are fairly large cookies). His favorite cookie was CC and he was ashamed to say anything. I made him his own batch on a birthday.

                                                                  We had a breakfast club for a while and every Friday, two people would team up and do breakfast for the club. It got a bit tiresome when all but a couple folks would bring in store bought stuff. I used to bring in stratas for breakfast and made sure there was a non-meat version for variety. I helped foster some younger folks into cooking more (other than just opening and nuking something) so some good came out of it. We had to stop because management didn't like that we were feeding some, but not all, of the office. Seriously? I was once asked to cater a work function; I declined.

                                                                  Now, I work from home and try to send out thoughtfully packaged holiday cookies to my friends and co-workers. I have to keep the list small as it gets expensive but those who've received anything from me still speak highly of the gift. They jokingly ask if they are "on the list" each year! :)

                                                                  1. When I was working we used to have "pot lucks" occasionally, usually to celebrate a particular holiday. Everyone would sign up for a dish. What wound up happening was some people would just buy prepared/takeout foods and pig out on the better homemade stuff. That seemed to take away from the spirit of the idea.
                                                                    I thought that was wrong...and it did bother me. They might still be doing it but I retired and moved away!

                                                                    1. Not anymore. Our group decided to go "treat free" because everyone was bringing in so many desert items it was getting to be a problem. Some were better than others, and trying to be polite equaled wasted calories, a bummer when figures were being watched.

                                                                      Now it's for birthdays only, a rotating calendar (next birthday brings in a treat for the celebrant)

                                                                      1. I do but only generally around the holidays then maybe sporadically once or twice more during the year.

                                                                        1. When my daughter started a new job as the youngest and one of the few women in her office, she decided that she would not bring in home baked cookies and she advised young women following after to not bake either, not initially anyway. It was a friendly, very friendly office, but she didn't want to establish her professional reputation as a great baker, instead of a great co worker.