The prosecution: Annie
Julian wants to plan all meals a week ahead to control calories. But I’m now bored to tears
My fiance, Julian, is obsessed with batch cooking. We live together at his flat, and when I first moved in I found his habit handy as it saved time and seemed to help with portion control: you plan all your meals for the week ahead, cook a large portion and freeze some to eat later. Three years later, though, I’m bored to tears.
We end up eating the same thing over and over. Julian likes to make a couple of big dishes on Sunday evening, like turkey casserole or fish pie. He will then portion them up to either eat every day for the next week, or freeze them for the future.
He works as a gym instructor and is very health-conscious. He loves to bring in the same combo of chicken, rice and broccoli every day for lunch, which he prepares in advance. He has them all pre-cooked in Tupperware boxes. We batch cook our dinners every Sunday, making a week’s worth of dishes to freeze. At first, I wanted to lose weight and Julian’s methods helped me stay on track, as we stuck to a calorie limit for each portion. But now I’m keen for some excitement. I’m more relaxed with my fitness goals and I don’t like the idea of discussing what to eat on Sunday and having to stick to it all week.
Julian says that these methods help him stick to his goals. But sometimes the dishes don’t keep well. Monday’s chicken and broccoli doesn’t taste half as good on a Friday. Recently we were tucking into a meal we’d batch cooked a month ago. It was a defrosted shepherd’s pie that had become all mushy and watery. I said to Julian that I wanted to eat something else. We had an argument because he told me I was “wasteful”. I snapped and said I wouldn’t compromise on taste, and threw the pie away.
Julian needs to understand that cooking in bulk isn’t for everyone. He says I’m going to undo all my hard work if I start eating what I want, because I’ll fall victim to high-calorie meals. I’ve told him to get lost on that front; I’m not a child. I don’t want the same thing every night.
The defence: Julian
I like eating the same thing every day – and Annie has lost weight. If she cooks, she might put it back on
I work in a gym and like to look and feel my best. My cooking methods protect me from opting for high-calorie meals, as every meal is already portioned up. I know the nutrient content of everything I eat. I’m a bit like a robot, just eating what I’m supposed to, but it keeps me focused.
At first, Annie loved our batch-cooked dinners. She wanted to lose some weight and she reached her goals with my help. Now she wants to switch things up. But why fix what’s not broken? And what if she puts all the weight back on? She is not the most disciplined of people.
Annie moans that I take up the whole weekend cooking, but planning ahead means you actually reduce the time spent in the kitchen overall. We’ve probably spent more quality time together because of my kitchen habits. We also save money on our food shop because batch cooking reduces food waste. You only buy what you need – I don’t roam the supermarkets just picking stuff up aimlessly any more, and I don’t have rogue ingredients lying in the back of the fridge going off. There is no reason to get a takeaway either because dinner is always good to go.
Recently, when we had a dinner that hadn’t defrosted well, Annie moaned and said she couldn’t eat it. I offered to put it back in the oven, but she wasn’t having it and threw it away. I thought that was very wasteful. I was also a bit offended that she just dumped a meal that I had made for her. I make all my meals with love; they aren’t bland. That evening I ate my dinner alone.
Annie should stick with our lifestyle as it has been good for us so far. She is not as good a cook as me. If she starts cooking her own dinners separately, she will be faffing around each night deciding what to eat while I’ll have my dinner ready in seconds. If that’s the case I won’t wait to eat with her.
I like eating the same thing every day. I don’t find it tedious. It actually reassures me to know I’m staying focused with my nutrition goals.
The jury of Guardian readers
Is Annie right to complain about Julian’s batch cooking?
Julian is guilty. As someone who also trains regularly at the gym and has to eat a certain amount of calories a day, I can understand how batch cooking is useful. However, it soon gets boring. I think Julian’s method is perfect for a single person, but when you’re in a couple, compromises have to be made.
Julian’s diet and nutrition regime is logical and successful, suiting his goals excellently, and were he living alone it would seem admirable. However, in a situation where meals are shared, I do not think this is sustainable.
Julian has a system that works for him. If Annie isn’t enjoying it any more, she should make her own meals. However, Julian should be more flexible and wait for Annie so they can eat together.
Julian should lay off Annie; she’s his fiancee, not his client. And if she puts weight back on, the world will keep turning. It doesn’t sound like Annie wants to stop batch cooking altogether, just to add some variety. Why not batch cook three weeknights and let Annie plan the menu for the other two?
Julian is guilty of not supporting Annie’s desire to try new things. Relationships are about compromise and support, not holding your partner’s weight against them. Julian may also find planning meals in advance and cooking them on the day can be both economical and healthy.
You be the judge
So now you can be the judge, click on the poll below to tell us: should Julian stop batch cooking?
We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.
The poll closes on Thursday 21 April at 9am BST
Last week’s result
We asked you if Hannah should stop cranking the heating up, something her boyfriend Steven thinks is a waste of money and bad for the planet.
14% of you said no – Hannah is innocent
86% of you said yes – Hannah is guilty