In cooking shows, it is seldom realistic to expect the dish to be cooked in real time, particularly if the dish has to be cooked over a long time or there is a long waiting period in preparation. Baking a loaf of bread, for example, requires the dough to rest for an extended period and then a long baking time. Few programs are three to four hours long, and much of that time would be watching an oven be hot. So instead, after putting the dish into the oven, the chef will often then take another plate out of it, the same dish prepared a while before and allowed to cook. This is a vital time-saving method when the chef does this live, in front of a Studio Audience. When there's extremely limited time, such as on a cooking segment of a show, this helps keep the end result sane due to a lack of time to properly prepare the ingredients.
An alternative approach for non-live productions is an elapsed-time cut, where they simply don't film the wait. Good Eats gives this impression sometimes. This approach may also be used for budget constraints. On The New Yankee Workshop, Norm Abrams probably isn't going to build an entire second desk to avoid waiting for the paint to dry on the first (although he does when he planned to make more than one anyway, as with chairs).
Cooking show parodies make fun of this trope, putting goopy cake batter into one oven and opening another oven to reveal One I Prepared Earlier that already has icing and decorations. Parodies that use the skip to omit several vital steps can overlap with Missing Steps Plan or And Some Other Stuff.
The phrase originated on Blue Peter, but was also used for craft makes which have the same problem, as glue and paint can take hours to set.
- Blue Peter is the Trope Namer.
- Julia Child on her cooking show, The French Chef, is probably the Trope Codifier. She started her cooking show back when editing was prohibitively expensive, so she had to film the entire 30-minute show in one take, resulting in her having the food prepared in three or four stages depending on what she was making.
- The Frugal Gourmet had something like that. He had two ovens, one atop the other, and would pop the dish he had prepared into the one and then take one he prepared earlier out of the other. Graham Kerr also did this on his later shows.
- Parodied in an episode of The Basil Brush Show, where the eponymous fox finds a muffin recipe from one of his relatives, but they take 45 minutes to make whilst the show is only 25 minutes. Cue a screenwipe where we see a tray of finished muffins and Basil saying, "And here are some I made earlier."
- Averted in 30-Minute Meals with Rachael Ray. Rachael does continue cooking during commercial breaks, but unless something gets burned and she has to replace it, there's no 'prepared earlier' food.
- Mocked in the Timon and Pumbaa comics in Disney Adventures: a fictional cooking show uses fake ones they prepared earlier. As it just so happens, the day they were doing pigs was the day that a) they forgot to put in the fake and b) the day Pumbaa climbed into the fake oven. With hilarious consequences.
- Parodied and averted in a particular Garfield comic, where the host evidently didn't prepare a second dish in advance and they actually show the hot oven for 45 minutes. The host even asks his audience if anyone know any good jokes to pass the time, while Garfield remarks this part of the show is usually pretty boring.
- In-Universe: In one episode of Cheers Diane, who has insisted that Sam let her bartend for the evening rather than just being a waitress, is given an order for a very complicated drink. She takes a long time to make it and, after commenting on the complexity to Sam, he says "I know. That's why I always make a blender full and put it in the refrigerator before the evening starts" as he pulls said premixed cocktail out from the fridge.
- Discussed briefly in Undertale at the end of the "Cooking With a Killer Robot" segment.
Mettaton: Haven't you ever seen a cooking show before? I already baked the cake ahead of time!
- Sam & Mickey's The Barbie Cooking Show spoofs this in the episode about roast turkey; Barbie states that she bought one turkey earlier, which remains cold and raw when she pulls it out, then tries to roast it on the air, even though she knows that it takes hours (the seven-minute episode consequently contains several cuts). A drunken Barbie also refers to her bottle of whiskey as "one [she] prepared earlier".
- Happens with Art Attack and Smart, both of which are art programmes, and since the stuff being made would often need to dry overnight, the presenters would need to take out things they'd prepared earlier.
- Australia's Play School does this for art and craft all the time, even using the trope name, although sometimes they seemed to do it to avoid the tricky part of the process...
- During the "Jaws Special" on MythBusters, Adam was talking to the camera about the method he was using to build a fake shark, and pulled out a mockup "he'd prepared earlier".
- Lampshaded on The Secret Life of Machines. Tim is detailing how old fashioned blue prints are made as part of the program about the photocopier. After putting some chemicals on the blank paper and the drawing to be copied on top of it, it then has to be exposed to bright light. "This actually takes rather a long time, so um, I've done one already that I've prepared earlier, a bit like a cookery program."
- Up until several years after Y2K, the fastest and cheapest way for small Engineering and Architectural firms to make multiple copies of design drawings was to have an intern take a hand drawn (or a computer printed CAD drawn) mylar or vellum record drawing (both of which which were very expensive to produce and difficult to replace) and send it through a blue line machine that used UV light and ammonia to transfer what was drawn to chemically treated paper. Some of the oldest blue-prints I've had to work from predate WWI and were copied from ink-on-linen originals which no longer exist.
- On Chicago's Ray Raynor and his Friends, Ray would do an at-home crafts project following instructions, the implication being that kids at home would do it at the same time. They'd have one they prepared earlier (used as a model, "this is what it looks like when you've finished") which would look great, and the one Ray made would look like shit.
- Norm Abram of The New Yankee Workshop would often start episodes by showing off a prototype of the project he was building that episode. You could spot the difference as the prototype was never painted/stained and was often made of rougher, lower quality wood.
- In a British PSA for a CPR technique, actor Vinnie Jones proceeds to demonstrate, noting he needs a guy who's not breathing. Cue a body being slid across the floor in front of him and Vinnie stating, "Here's one I made earlier."
- In an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy, this trope is parodied when Rolf is preparing an old home remedy for pimples (for Eddy who had broken out in an enormous zit that grew larger than his head). The remedy, which involved among other things, rutabagas and a squid, has to simmer for two weeks, but then Rolf reveals that he for some goddamn reason already HAD a finished batch (which is hilarious in two ways; he had no reason to know that Eddy would get a zit, and even if he did, he wouldn't have had to make a new batch to show how it's done). Ed applauds like the audience for a cooking show.
- Riffed on in the pilot episode of Luther:
Luther: Is that the speech?Teller: That's the speech.Luther: It's a good speech.Teller: Thank you. It's one I prepared earlier.
- In one "Film, TV, and Theater Styles" segment of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Colin is the wife cheating on husband Ryan with the ski instructor Wayne. Drew switches the style to "cooking show". Ryan says "I find when my wife is cheating, it's best to put her in a oven set at 350 for 2 hours. Colin pretends to get into an oven. Wayne says "Because we couldn't do this on a regular show, we have a prepared wife in the other oven. Colin moves over and walks out, while Ryan and Wayne make impressed noises with how well "she" came out.
- Averted in this Schlock Mercenary. The reality TV show is using nanites to grow Elf's hair in real time, so the show takes a two hour break and airs a movie for viewers to watch instead.
- Hilariously played with in the Danish Julekalender Canal Wild Card, where host Regnar Worm had been given a Meaningful Rename as an experiment. To see whether his new name really had an effect on his craftsmanship, he was tasked with making some Christmas decorations while thinking about his name. However, in order to speed things up a bit, he pulled out some spectacular decorations he had made earlier, thus clearly proving that his name was working...
- Sam & Mickey
- In Makeup By Yasmin, when Yasmin makes over Mrs. Potato Head, she explains that she made Mrs. Potato Head's new eyes and mouth earlier.
- In the Crafting With Stacie episode about building a birdhouse, Stacie reveals that she drew her birdhouse plan earlier, "taking a cue from some older cooking shows".