Does Meal Prep Count As Therapy?

I keep my self-care in the crisper.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I’m not sure I should like chopping tomatoes this much. I view marinating chicken as a hobby and maybe that’s odd, too. Call it a coping skill, a method of relaxation, but cooking large-batch lunches for the week ahead to the sounds of middle-aged-man jazz makes me feel better afterward than I did before. We self soothe in our own ways, I guess.

If I could, I’d show you the “drafts” folder in my Gmail. It’s endless email bodies full of recipe links that never went anywhere, I simply saved them in that venue because I was confident it was the one place my instructions for rustic greek flatbreads and fall squash soups would be safe as houses.

Eventually I decided that a spreadsheet was a far more effective use of my copying and pasting tendencies, and now maintain a “Life Admin” document for all sorts of things, with recipes occupying no fewer than three tabs. Organized by outdoor temperature and the presence or absence of bread, if you’re curious.

I do enjoy cooking one meal at a time, I guess, but the sense of accomplishment that comes along with meal prep contributes to my overall sense of self worth and I’d like to discuss it.

Our phones can do anything for us now. Clothe us, direct us, entertain us, and certainly feed us. I’m essentially three taps away from meals arriving at my door whenever I want them, but I’ve never had an experience on Seamless that didn’t leave me profoundly disgusted with myself. Yes, I’ve just consumed my calories for the week in one Earth-harming styrofoam container of fried and sauced protein of some kind, but that’s not what’s making me feel bad. I didn’t have to do anything for this meal other than pay for it, and somehow my psyche has connected kitchen effort to overall wellbeing. Thank heavens I have a dishwasher now.

My stomach knots dissipate as I rinse carrots. My shoulders relax as a chop bell peppers. I do a little dance while I sauté and whisking dressings together is, in my home, akin to a sport. Nothing makes me feel like I have my literal shit together than neatly organized baggies of salad contents standing at attention in my fridge, waiting to be tossed together in a bowl on the weekday of my choice. I’m fighting stress with salads and I don’t mind telling you it’s working.

I wonder if maybe a nice yoga class, or a group support setting of some kind might help me further attain the level of peace and satisfaction I find at the bottom of a bag of greens. Should it take more than good olive oil to help me see my self worth? One wonders. In the meantime though, I peruse the recipes of the food blogging masses, wander the aisles of Trader Joe’s, and keep my knives in good form. Because I’ve yet to find a better method of centering and soothing myself than addressing nutrition for the week in my kitchen. I don’t know if my chosen therapeutic hobby is preparing me in any way to be a more productive member of society, but I do know—at least this week—precisely what I’m having for lunch.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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