We’ve got builders in and are now kitchenless, with only a microwave, a kettle and our terminal toaster, limping on with 0.5 functioning slots, for sustenance. Perfect, you would think, for a woman who declared she was never cooking again once her kids left home. Ideally, I would now assume my ultimate form, living off olives and dry martinis like a Dorothy Parker tribute act, but I fear it’s too soon for that: we’re all going to have to work until we’re 100 now the government has trashed our pensions. I’m unclear if I even have one, and if you can’t locate your pension, it’s best to assume you’re never retiring.
So the microwave it is. Coincidentally, it’s having a cost-of-living crisis moment as the most energy-efficient appliance (6p to cook two baked potatoes compared with 24p in an electric oven according to one expert). But what to put in there? I’m no stranger to ready meals, but stacks of dubiously recyclable plastic containers and pierced films are too depressing for the long haul. I know they are great for melting chocolate, and Nigella warms milk in her microwavé, but those are the fixings for a mug cake at best, not a meal. I’ve been scouring healthy eating blogs for what to make without a work surface. Tinned beans and sweet potatoes (high on my vegetable blacklist) feature heavily – worthy but unappealing.
Having exhausted all the invitations I can hint and cajole out of friends and family, we’ve become feral, squabbling over who gets the microwave first, then frying our brains staring into it and seeing how many Doritos we can eat in four minutes. We are tumbling, fast, into individualised pits of culinary depravity: concocting appalling food combinations like bin-diving gulls, then prepping them on the actual bin lid. I drown everything in chilli oil and crispy onion bits; my husband is risking his French citizenship with meals of tinned corn, vinegar and blue cheese. I’m not sure there’s any way back to civilisation. Or perhaps there is? Send me your best no-prep recipes and save us from this no-kitchen nightmare.
• Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist
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