No matter how convenient packaged meals are, there's nothing to beat home food both for taste and nutrition.

When 23-year-old Shalini Kulshreshtha, a software engineer, moved to Delhi from Chandigarh, she realised that her health was going to take a beating due to her hectic lifestyle. Invariably, she ended up skipping the most important meal of the day: breakfast.

“There was simply no time to prepare and eat breakfast before leaving for work,” says Shalini.

Shalini's story is not an isolated one. Experts believe that corporate culture combined with stiffer-than-ever competition has brought about major changes in the way we do things. The obvious casualties are a person's eating habits, hours of sleep, physical activity, and even inter-personal relationships.

“There has been a dramatic shift in lifestyle over the past decade,” said Anuja Agarwal, Chief Dietician, AIIMS, New Delhi. “In terms of daily routine, activities important to one's health and wellness are being ignored. Gone are the days when you could exercise and enjoy a leisurely and nutritious breakfast before heading to work.”

Today, the availability of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, instant foods, snacks as well as diet foods have radically revolutionised the way we eat. Even 20 years ago, the concept of packaged foods was not popular in India, especially when it came to perishable items like milk and juice. There were also concerns on the use of artificial flavouring substances and preservatives. Today whether it's packaged juice or food, the variety is mind-boggling. However nothing beats home food both in terms of taste and nutritional value.

Quick Fixes

Here's a mix and match menu to give your diet variety. Remember to space your meals evenly and work out regularly as well.

Breakfast

Mushrooms on Toast

Daliya Salad

Grilled vegetable sandwich with mint/coriander chutney

Idli with sambhar,

Plain dosa

Milk with cornflakes or wheat flakes.

High fibre fruits like apples, papayas, muskmelons, oranges or watermelon.

Yoghurt, juice, lassi, fruit shakes (without sugar).

Lunch

Two chapattis (multigrain flour), one bowl of rice, one bowl dhal (avoid tempering), one cooked vegetable dish and salad (avoid dressing).

Dinner

Steamed salad (with yoghurt or olive oil dressing), grilled fish/chicken/paneer/gourd vegetable with a multigrain toast or multigrain chapatti, papaya salad

Bed time

A glass of double toned milk