The Rise of Lunchboxes: Exploring the Uncommon Workplace Canteens in Sweden

Sweden, a country known for its unique cultural practices and traditions, has a distinctive approach to workplace dining. Unlike many other countries where employees eat in canteens, in Sweden, it’s more common for workers to bring their own lunchboxes. This practice, which has been on the rise in recent years, is not just a reflection of Swedish culture but also a testament to the country’s commitment to sustainability and health. But why exactly are workplace canteens uncommon in Sweden? Let’s delve into this intriguing topic.

The Swedish Tradition of Lunchboxes

Bringing a lunchbox to work is a long-standing tradition in Sweden. This practice, known as “matsäck,” dates back to the times when workers had to travel long distances to work and couldn’t return home for lunch. Over time, this tradition has evolved and adapted to modern lifestyles, but the core concept remains the same: preparing and bringing your own food to work.

The Role of Sustainability

Sweden is a global leader in sustainability, and this ethos extends to food consumption. By bringing their own lunchboxes, employees can reduce food waste and packaging waste associated with takeaway meals or canteen dining. This practice also encourages healthier eating habits, as people have more control over what they eat when they prepare their own meals.

The Influence of Work Culture

Work culture in Sweden also plays a significant role in the prevalence of lunchboxes. Swedish workplaces often promote a balanced work-life, which includes taking time to enjoy a leisurely lunch. Many offices have communal kitchens where employees can heat up their lunchboxes and eat together, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.

The Economic Factor

Economics is another factor that contributes to the rise of lunchboxes in Sweden. Eating out or buying food from a canteen can be expensive, especially in major cities. By bringing their own lunch, employees can save a significant amount of money over time.


In conclusion, the uncommonness of workplace canteens in Sweden can be attributed to a combination of traditional practices, sustainability efforts, work culture, and economic considerations. While this might seem unusual to outsiders, it’s a practice that aligns well with Swedish values and lifestyle. As the world becomes more conscious of sustainability and health, the Swedish tradition of lunchboxes might become more common in workplaces around the globe.