The captain sat, brow furrowed, as she stared at the blank paper in front of her. This was possibly the most grueling of her regular duties. Due to budgetary constraints, she was also chief cook on board. As such, the weekly task of meal planning fell to her.
It should be easy. All she had to do was select seven meals. How could it possibly be this hard?
That was far too simplistic an understanding of the task at hand. Firstly, the meals had to be easy enough to prepare when both she and the junior officers were tired and running short on patience.
Secondly, they had to be nutritious and healthy.
Thirdly, they had to cater for a range of tastes in order to be acceptable to all. She understood the argument for simply making the meals regardless and insisting they get eaten, but she wasn’t overly interested in arguments over food every night.
Finally, she wanted variation. It would be easy to simply select the same seven meals week in, week out; but she wanted something different.
The biggest challenge, of course, was getting the junior officers to eat a balanced diet. The smaller one had previously been easy as his diet was completely liquid; now the captain had to factor in feeding him an appropriate amount of nutritious mush everyday.
It was a messy process. The laundry black hole had been mercifully free of Kleenexite incursions, but now she was faced with the prospect of soaking orange goo off clothing on an almost daily basis.
The real challenge lay in convincing the older one to eat what was placed in front of him. Some days were excellent – every last mouthful was virtually inhaled. Other days – well, she tried not to think about them.
She had some meals in reserve that she knew he would eat. These made up the bulk of her menu planning. The catch was that overexposure to the same meals could lead to a sudden, unexpected rejection of that meal on a night she was counting on it going down well.
I need inspiration, she thought in frustration. She opened the Book of Faces, a communication portal that connected her to a countless number of other captains. Ideas flowed in and she was able to finally construct a basic outline for the week.
She sighed and sat back in her chair. It wasn’t all bad – there had been recent successes in ensuring vegetables were consumed. She had put her humble grater to work and shredded almost any vegetable she could and cooked it into oblivion. Combined with a healthy amount of garlic, the extra ingredients had gone unnoticed.
She smiled. Her co-captain had shared a smile with her over the table as they watched their junior officer eat a veggie-laden meal recently. He knew her secret.
Or so he thought. She had smiled back at him as she are her own meal. Her secret was safe and her whole crew were eating vegetables they would not normally eat.