I'm wondering about the usage of the definite article in cases where the thing being referred to is an abstraction or generalization of some kind.
I'm aware of the most important rules for using the definite article and when not to use it. However, there seem to be cases not covered by the most commonly taught rules.
For example, is the following sentence grammatically correct?
This is what will be used during meal preparation.
The sentence omits the article before the "meal preparation" syntagm.
If this sentence was a part of a series of instructions which referred to a specific meal preparation process, then it would be natural to write something like this:
Place a pan on the stove. This is what will be used during the meal preparation.
However, when talking about meal preparation in general (like in this sentence), it is natural to elide the definite article. However, I feel like I'm doing this by ear without grammatical justification. Is, perhaps, preparation considered uncountable in this specific case? Why?
Is there a specific rule that governs this omission? Can you point me to a resource (a webpage or a book) where I could find all of the rules?