How to Beat the Winter Blues in a Soup-rising and Flavorful Way

We are no strangers to long, frigid Minnesota winters. The shorter days, lack of sunlight and negative temps can take a toll on our mojo – which is why we bank on a few tried-and-true methods to battle the winter blues.

You can catch us strolling around the North Loop at 3:00 p.m. for our daily wellness walk, diffusing essential oils in the office or heading over to the Minneapolis Bouldering Project for a post-work climb and sauna sesh. But in addition to all of these tactics, we have one secret weapon that trumps them all: Soup days.

This office tradition began 3 years ago as a way to bring everyone together family-style. Now, when the calendar reaches November, it’s our cue to whip out our favorite cold weather recipes. Each week, one team member signs up to be our chef. While we call it “soup day,” we don’t restrict ourselves – any warm, comforting food is welcome.

Whether it be authentic Pad Thai or Instant Pot magic, read on to hear about some of the dishes we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying thanks to our team of talented in-house chefs.

Around the world in a 1-hour lunch break

The chef: Caroline

The dish: Pad Thai

Caroline_makes_pad_thaiIn June, our content strategist Caroline globe-trotted halfway across the world to visit an elephant sanctuary, weave through the vast mountains of northern Thailand on a moped, and most importantly, learn how to make authentic Pad Thai.

Far less “flashy” than the American version, authentic Pad Thai delights with a subtle, yet satisfying flavor. Ingredients from United Noodles brought this dish to life, featuring tamarind, bean sprouts and fish sauce.

We enjoyed this cultural twist on our soup day, though have to admit – the Americanized version might not live up to our standards from here on out.

Some like it hot (dish)

The chef: Maggie

The dish: Tator tot hot dish

A Wisconsin native, Maggie has grown up with a deep appreciation for hot dish. A staple at family gatherings and the ultimate comfort food, it’s the perfect way to bring all of her favorite people together. As long as the real foodie of her family – her dog, Cal, doesn’t get into it for a taste.

Layers of tator tots and veggies bound by melted cheddar cheese had us lining up for seconds… and, okay, maybe thirds.

Instant gratification, or Instant Pot chili?  

The chef: Emily

The dish: Instant Pot Chili

Perhaps both, with Emily’s tasty chili recipe from Twin Cities-based food blog, Pinch of Yum.

Not only does Emily juggle a full-time account executive role, a part-time gig at GetKnit Outdoor Events AND intramural broom ball – she also recently became an aunt! Cue easy, instant pot recipes to the rescue as she spends time with her baby niece, Margot, and helps her sleepless-sister, Ashley, through the new mom stage. “It makes me feel extra cozy during cold Minnesota winters,” Emily adds.

A whiff of what’s next

Upcoming Soup-er stars include Nina with a shrimp jambalaya and a beer cheese soup from Drew. Want to join in on the fun? Good news, you can! While we can’t extend the invite to our soup days (we only have so many soup bowls), we can invite you to our next Food Connections gathering. If you are in the food industry (or want to be), come join in on the food and fun!

Out with the Old, In with the New: Digital Project Management for Agencies

In October of 2017, the IN Food team embarked on a journey into previously uncharted territory. Years of keeping physical copies of projects (which had once worked so well), was now leading to overflowing review baskets, job jackets that had seen better days and hard-to-read handwritten mark-ups. We had to face it: our agency was growing and in need of a new project management system.

After months of research, training calls and internal testing, we were ready to take our project management digital. March 16, 2018 was dubbed “W-Day,” better known as the day we parted with job jackets and introduced “The Workamajig Way.”

Dancing the ‘jig  

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Workamajig is a multifunctional, fully integrated project management system made specifically for advertising agencies and in-house creative teams. Their latest edition, Platinum, allows users to manage project details, creative resourcing and reporting in one place. Read on for a closer look at 5 reasons why we love Workamajig, or as we affectionately refer to it – the ‘jig.

1) Focusing on What’s Important

Less time spent tracking the status of projects, more time spent strategizing and thinking creatively! We find that when projects are streamlined in one place on Workamajig, we can put more thought and energy into going above and beyond for our clients.

2) Details, Details, Details!

Complex projects require a lot of communication. We love building multi-modal relationships with our clients: on-site meetings, phone calls, emails and Skype conferences – we do it all. But clear, dependable, consistent communication across many platforms comes a lot of nitty-gritty details. Workamajig allows us to store all of these details in one place, making it easy to reference them later. This helps keep team members on-track and on the same page. 

3) Time Well-Spent

Through Workamajig, we’re able to track the number of hours we are putting into projects, our outside costs, our incremental costs – and everything in between. This is especially helpful when it comes to keeping projects on-budget. Recently, we began implementing a weekly budget analysis report through the ‘jig that allows us to see exactly where each project is at, financially speaking.

4) Happy creative team = Happy (Project Manager) Life

Nina, our project & traffic manager, prioritizes projects in the ‘jig to show our creative team what they need to tackle first. The creative team can then seamlessly route all projects through the system, collect feedback and upload final files upon approval.

5) Constantly Improving

The best thing about the ‘jig is the exceptional support behind the software. The Workamajig team is constantly making updates based on client feedback. In addition, we are frequently in touch with our Account Manager, Rod, who never fails to make solving complicated tech problems look easy.

Workamajig does incredible things for our team right now, and we haven’t even come CLOSE to hitting the ceiling with this software. In 2019, we’ll be honing-in on how to utilize the robust data and reporting to improve our processes and decision making. In an ever-changing industry, it’s important for us to stay ahead of the curve so that we can best serve our associates and clients. Streamlined software that makes everything run smoothly is simply one piece of what sets our agency apart.