Dear Meal Prepper,
Yes, you. Over there in your active wear, spending your weekend steaming industrial-size servings of green veggies and protein to consume over the next financial year.
Can you just put your Keep Cup and your BPA-free water bottle down for one moment? I have something to say.
If I could sit at your kitchen table and have a heart-to-heart with you, I would, but it’s covered in plastic containers, 80 of them. All packed with one chicken breast, some green beans and roasted sweet potatoes. This is your lunch for the next 80 days.
You’ve spent half your weekend cooking these meals. Carrying out this small-scale industrial revolution, your little mechanical arm places identical food in each slot. Your table looks like it’s playing Tetris. Before you seal, freeze and smile, you take that Instagram shot hoping for 100s of likes.
And then you place all these meals in your newly purchased chest freezer. (Next to the bodies).
Meal prepper, here is my question:
Are you prepping for the apocalypse?
Are you the Kiefer Sutherland of the cooking world?
Do you have a child called Apple?
On the outside, you’re a picture of health and clean living but internally I am sensing some real turmoil. It seems to me that your desire to eat the same meal for the next 80 days is about your refusal to interface with everyday life.
Look. If you have a bunch of kids, fair cop. Spending a few hours whacking out a lasagne and casserole to store in the freezer makes sense.
But cooking in advance for the next 3 months?
Why has this become a mark of achievement?
When did this ritual become a religious cult?
I know it was somewhere between the Lululemon see-through yoga pants scandal and the arrival of cacao nibs, but I cannot exactly pinpoint the exact moment.
Let me take a moment to ask you this: What if you applied this meal prep model to other areas of your life?
Instead of going out a few times a week like a normal person, why not have a week-long bender? Swap the Prosecco for some hard liquor and put on your dancing pants. That way you’ve had 7 nights out and can stay at home for the next 3 months. (So you can food prep.)
Instead of having sex a few times a week/once a week/however often is normal for you, commence a marathon non-stop heavy petting festival for 7 days in a row with your paramour. Change the sheets to latex, buy a few vanilla candles and sound proof your house. Then don’t touch them for 3 months. (You can spend that time food prepping.)
Because you know, that says quality of life to me.
Is it really the case that you are unable to whip up a little meal at short notice? I once had a handsome friend whip up a 3-hatted meal with a pork chop and a zucchini. It kind of turned me on.
And what about the pleasures of cooking whatever is left in the fridge? That’s an asset I’d pay for. Why just the other day my chickpea and deli meat pavlova was an absolute hit.
My dear meal prepper, I fear you’re the type who reads books about how to have sex instead of ending up on the floor with your lovers in a weird position with your pants around your ankles and unidentified puddles around you.
“But food prepping saves money!” you cry
“I watched the ABC’s War on Waste!”
“It prevents me from getting caught out!”
What does it actually mean to be “caught out”, though? Has someone tried to extraordinary rendition you? Are you being held in a secret CIA black site in Poland? Are you stranded in the Australian desert with nought but one goji berry to last you a week?
When the apocalypse comes, there won’t be a microwave for you to defrost your herbed chicken breast. You’ll be eating spam from a can, with your phone charger as a spoon.
We are living in complicated times, my friends, but does it really mean that you have to cook as if the end of days is around the corner?
Ali Benton is a radio producer, writer and kitchen comedian. She did go through a phase where she thought Summer Rolls were healthy.