Do you feel like your life is missing something? Then a mug meal may be exactly what you need. This recent convenience-cooking craze caters to the single pringle, the bachelor, the solo surfer – anyone cooking for one. A quick search of ‘mug meals’ on Amazon brings up 586 results for recipe books designed with the lazy in mind, but is this a healthy trend?
The most popular book appears to be ‘Meal in a Mug’ by Denise Smart, bearing the catchy tagline “All you need is a mug and a microwave”. The book features a wide variety of recipes, allowing you to cook not just the all-too-familiar mug cake, but also main courses, sides, various breakfasts and lunches as well as the enticing ‘Puddings and Baking’ section. I can vouch for the tastiness of both the chilli con carne and the jambalaya with prawn and chorizo, as well as an impressive number of puddings, but I would still question the sustainability of a mug meal lifestyle.
The theory and assumption that underpins the success of the concept is that mug chefs will only ever be cooking these meals for one. This is both true and problematic, as unless you are blessed with multiple microwaves, more than one meal cannot be prepared at the same time. It could become the sad case that the inherent desire to continue frazzling your food with microwaves may actually keep you in a situation where you only ever have to cook for one, due to your reluctance to conform to culinary norms. You heard it here first: mug meals will keep you single. Probably.
Those in favour of this innovation might argue that this is an integral step on the ladder to true adulthood, in the same way that university is a transition from school to ‘the real world’. Is this really what studenthood is coming to? Are we really at the point where we seem so incompetent at a) cooking, b) washing up, and c) time management, that we can’t use multiple cooking utensils? Can we not schedule cookery into our lives somehow?
While mug cuisine may be easy and time-efficient, it does bear an aura of the relatively incompetent and unambitious. At the point in our lives where we are thriving on independence and doing everything for ourselves, proving that we can, in fact, survive on our own two feet, the very idea of mug meals seems to slightly undermine this.
A meal in a mug may be convenient, tidy and ideal for one-offs when you really have no time at all, but is this a lifestyle I’d be happy to maintain? Not so much.