This is your brain. This is your brain (and your wallet) on Chipotle.

eleanor-chung-generation-jdStudents in the clinical law program are assigned a carrel in a special room (mine even has windows!) with a key-code entry. A fascinating aspect of law school is the material culture of these carrels, particularly the food and beverage choices. A carrel near mine has a large Starbucks cup in the morning and a Chipotle bag mid-afternoon, shortly followed by a school café coffee cup, with the rotation repeating itself the next day. A lot has been written on millenials’
overspending on coffee — bear with me, that’s only part of what I’m getting at.

First, whenever I have to eat Chipotle or a Panera salad, a single tear runs down my face, because the joylessness of it reminds me that life’s but a walking shadow and that lunch creeps in this petty pace from day to day. It reduces eating to getting-the-job-done-so-I-can-get-back-to-work.

Second, the inefficiency of it. The exact same meals can be created with far superior ingredients in half the time it takes to leave the law school, walk to the restaurant, order, wait, pick up the order and walk back. That’s 40 minutes getting just one meal. “Fast food” is not fast food — the term is puffery in a colloquialism. Moreover, only one day of eating was accomplished.

Third, the expense. (I’ll be quick!). Two coffees equals $10. A Chipotle burrito is $8. That’s essentially $20 a day, at 7 percent direct PLUS loan interest. If you have a family, it’s completely untenable.

Lastly, the nutritive value is not great. I concede that it may be easier for 22-year-olds to function after eating 1.7 pounds of simple carbohydrates. But for the rest of us, the post-lunch slump makes this meal doubly inefficient.

Instead, dear reader: Get thee to Costco. On Sunday, buy a $5 rotisserie chicken. Also buy pre-shredded Mexican cheese, bell peppers, onions, tortillas, canned salsa and canned beans. Bourgeois associates: you can create haute burritos by ordering cilantro, red onions, and limes through Amazon Fresh. Poor law students: Our day will come. But for now, you have no time for a second stop at a grocery store nor the money to subscribe to Amazon Fresh.

Dice the chicken. Sauté bell peppers, onion, and beans in olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Fold chicken, sautéed veggies and beans and cheese into tortillas. (Skip the rice, unless you are 22.) You now have enough ingredients to make two dozen-ish burritos, and you’ve earned 2 percent cash back on your purchase. (For your sanity, freeze half of the burritos, because no family can endure that many burritos.) The Chinese iteration: Costco rotisserie chicken, hoisin sauce, spring onions sliced length-wise, and tortillas. It’s Peking duck.

And the coffee, of course, just make at home. You’ve now saved an hour-plus a day and a boatload of money.

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