“Lunch out” is a word we often hear when the clock strikes 12. And often, our taste buds get tired of the same old restaurants near the office or the rice-and-viand offerings when we opt to eat at the neighboring building’s cafeteria.

But lunch doesn’t have to be boring. Revive the good vibes that lunch break gives to our tired bodies. By borrowing a few food ideas from around the world, we can have creative yet easy lunches for a whole workweek.

Photo by Patrick Dunn, Just Wine App

Photo by Patrick Dunn, Just Wine App

Monday: Grilled Chicken and Mango Salad

This lunch is perfect for Mondays for three reasons: One, it’s the thing to make when you want something light from all the food you indulged in during the weekend. It’s also the perfect food for keeping the summer vibes alive when you want something light yet refreshing. And last but not least, it puts to good use all the leftover chicken from the weekend.

Ingredients you need:

Italian dressing

Mixed greens

Grilled chicken

Mango (peeled and sliced into cubes)

Seedless red grapes

Red onions (slivered)

How to make it:

Place grilled chicken on a bed of mixed greens. Top with mangoes, seedless red grapes, and red onions. Pour Italian dressing. Toss and serve.

Photo by jeffreyww, Flickr

Photo by jeffreyww, Flickr

Tuesday: Bánh mì

Ease into slightly heavier fare to fuel the growing intensity of the workweek. Pack a Bánh mì into your lunch box. It’s healthy yet heavy enough to fill you up. This popular Vietnamese bread is loaded with goodness from the east and west: French bread that’s loaded with tasty meats and refreshing vegetables.

Ingredients you need:

Baguette

Mayonnaise

Pâté

Your choice of meat (I personally love meatballs for this!)

Sriracha sauce

Cucumber slices

Fresh herbs (cilantro, for example)

Pickled carrots and daikon (you can check out recipes online if you want to make your own)

How to make it:

Slice the baguette lengthwise. If the baguette you got isn’t the Vietnamese kind, remove a bit of the center to make space for the fillings and condiments. Toast it until the outside is crunchy. Spread some mayo on the bread. Slap on some pâté. Place the meat at the center. If you’re using meatballs, crush it and spread it evenly on the bread. Add the rest of the ingredients, such as cucumber slices, fresh herbs, and pickled carrots and daikon. Drizzle some Sriracha for some spicy kick.

Photo by amanderson, Flickr

Photo by amanderson, Flickr

Wednesday: Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice is one of the easiest and healthiest Korean rice dishes you can make in your lifetime. This dish is composed of simple ingredients that are easy to obtain: basically, kimchi and rice. Meat-eaters can choose to add chicken, fish, or beef. Others add egg. Personally, I like adding egg. Other ingredients can be bought at the Korean section of leading supermarkets or at your neighborhood Korean store.

Ingredients you need:

One serving of cooked rice

Chopped kimchi

Kimchi juice

Water

Gochuchang (hot pepper paste)

Vegetable oil

Chopped green onion

Roasted sesame seeds

Seaweed cut into strips

Fried egg (sunny side up)

How to make it:

Heat vegetable oil in a pan. Add kimchi and stir-fry for around a minute. Add rice and mix together. Add kimchi juice to give it a more kimchi taste, plus a distinct red color. Add water so the rice doesn’t overcook. Add gochuchang for another layer of spice. Drizzle some sesame oil. Top with fried egg, chopped green onions, sesame seeds, and seaweed. 

Photo by avlxyz, Flickr

Photo by avlxyz, Flickr

Thursday: Omurice

Omurice (Japanese omelet rice) is one of the go-to dishes of the Japanese when they are on-the-go. It’s quick to cook, cheap to make, filling, and nutritious. Plus, you can get creative and put anything you want in this dish. But of course, to be called omurice, there has to be rice and egg. Plus that red dollop of goodness called ketchup. 

Ingredients you need:

Cooked rice

Two eggs

Milk

Salt

Vegetable oil

Diced onions

Diced carrots

Minced garlic

Cooked chicken (you can also use tuna, if you like)

Ketchup

Parsley

How to make it:

Combine eggs, milk, and salt in a bowl and beat until ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside. In a pan, heat oil. After that, sauté onions, carrots, and garlic.  Add the cooked chicken. Add rice. Make sure that everything is mixed well and that there are no clumps of rice. Add ketchup to the rice mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put the rice in a bowl to make a half moon shape. Transfer the shaped rice on a plate. Next, pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook. Slide the egg onto the mound of rice. Top with ketchup and parsley for a yummy look.   

Photo by allthingschill, Flickr

Photo by allthingschill, Flickr

Friday: Pesto with Chicken Pasta

With the wealth of noodles and sauces available at the supermarket, pasta is probably the most fool-proof way of eating Italian. You can cook noodles (you can use wheat noodles, in the name of good health) ahead of time and store them in ziplock bags for easy re-heating. And for the sauce, there are good bottled pesto sauces available at the supermarket. Parmesan cheese can be had in bottles, too. And to make this dish more filling, you can add grilled chicken breast—or even chicken nuggets that you can pop for a few minutes in the toaster. 

Ingredients you need:

Pasta of your choice

Pesto sauce of your choice (you can also make your own, if you like)

Parmesan cheese

Cooked chicken fillet

How to make it:

Cook pasta until al dente. Scoop up some pesto sauce and mix together with noodles. Top with cooked chicken fillet. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.