Last updated 30 May 2021

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Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a juicy Metro chicken! (Replace Metro with Costco or Safeway or whatever the primary purveyor of rotisserie chicken is in your area, if necessary.)


The natural question you ask yourself is: "How do I get the get the most out of this beautiful bird with the least amount of effort?" There are two ways to maximise happiness-effort ratio in cooking. If you are the kind of person who buys a Metro chicken, though, then I suspect that you, like me, usually tackle this problem by minimising effort. The following list of recipes is in this spirit. For each recipe, we shall give a score based on the happiness-to-effort ratio. Bonus points have been given to recipes that are especially cost-effective. Without further ado, here are the recipes.

Pure unbridled joy

Score: $e$ (in the limit)

Because this recipe requires almost no effort, its score is quite high. The main step in preparation is to carve the chicken into pieces suitable for human consumption. Suppose we cut the Metro chicken into two pieces. This expends a bit of effort, but in return we don't have to swallow the chicken whole, which one imagines will cause the happiness-to-effort ratio to increase. The situation gets a bit better when we cut the chicken into three pieces, and so on. As we cut the chicken into more and more pieces, it becomes easier to eat but the overall the gain in happiness decreases, so for a positive integer $n$, a suitable model for the score after cutting the chicken into $n$ pieces is $$\text{Score} = \bigg(1+{1\over n}\bigg)^n.$$ As $n\to \infty$, this approaches the constant $e$. (If we would like to start eating in finite time, we will not be able to attain the maximum score, but we can get arbitrarily close to it.)

For a bit of extra zing, consider adding your favourite sauces to the mix. Sriracha is always a good choice.


Score: $4\pi/3$

Couscous really is a staple of low-effort dining. It can easily be made with a bowl and some hot water (plus a bit of butter/margarine for fluffiness and some salt and spices if one is feeling especially oneself that day). If timed correctly, the couscous will be done and vegetables will be out of the microwave right when the chicken is carved.

Avocado rice

Score: $\pi^2/6$

If you don't have a rice cooker, this recipe doesn't belong on this list, because it isn't low-effort to wait around watching a pot of rice on the stove. However, if you do have a rice cooker, you can put in the rice before going to Metro, so by the time you return, there is already rice waiting for you. Avocado could really be replaced with any other plant matter here. I routinely use avocado because there is always avocado sushi right beside the chicken in Metro, and seeing it always puts me in the mood to make deconstructed-Metro-chicken-sushi at home. (Soy sauce enhances the experience.) The score really ought to be $\pi^2$ because it is very yummy and low-effort, but we unfortunately have to divide by $6$ because avocados are not cheap.


Score: $2\pi/\ln(2)$

This recipe complements all the other ones on this list, because it only requires the bones of the Metro chicken, which you might have thrown out anyway. If you choose to make this soup, you can even save effort while carving because any meat you miss on the bone simply goes into this soup. It does require that you simmer the bones for about 6 hours, but overall preparation time is very low, since we literally just stick the carcass in some water, wait, then add some chopped vegetables a bit later, then wait again. The bones were basically free, because we would have thrown them out anyway, and onions, carrots, and potatoes are extremely cheap, so the total cost comes down to a couple dimes per serving. Even better if we have this soup with some rice! We have added a factor of $2$ to the score for frugality.

Grilled cheese

Score: $\zeta(3)$

A little out there. I am not sure what higher power compelled me to chuck some Metro chicken onto the cheese while making a grilled cheese, but the result was not more than the sum of its parts, hence the low score. This is not to say that it's a bad construction, but I would honestly recommend eating a grilled cheese and then having pure unbridled joy (the first recipe) on the side instead of doing this.


Score: $5$

A wonderful treat to bring to school, back when going to school implied leaving the house. Preparation involves mixing and spreading Sriracha and mayo onto some bread and putting chicken (reheated if necessary) on that. Sauce could be replaced with something different (perhaps mustard?). For extra colour, consider adding some greens, like iceberg lettuce.


Score: $(\sqrt 2\,/\,363)\sum_{k=0}^\infty (4k)!(1103+26390k)\,/\,((k!)^4396^{4k})$

Unlike the grilled cheese combination above, this recipe was a resounding success. The sauce from the Indomie brought new life to the Metro chicken breast; in return, the chicken makes two packs of Indomie (which would otherwise be a light snack) into a meal. This is a power couple to give the Obamas a run for their money. Wowie.

Fried rice

Score: $5.34$

Add garlic and shallots to a healthy amount of oil on high heat (medium-high also works, if you have a very sensitive smoke detector like I do). Add day-old rice and fry until much of the moisture has departed the rice. Make space in the centre of the pan to scramble the egg, then incorporate it into the rice. Add the Metro chicken once the egg is no longer wet, then add oyster sauce and white pepper at the end. Not very low-effort; in fact, I'd go so far as to say that making fried rice is high-effort. But Metro chicken is still one of the lowest-effort meats you can add to fried rice, so this is still a net win. And it tastes pretty good.

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The author is funded in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.