And Panera Bread does a great job of providing healthy lunches, even posting their calorie and ingredient information, so you can see exactly what’s their food (and avoid some sneaky ingredients that have lingered on their menu). They use real cheese (sometimes organic), and they have antibiotic- and hormone-free meat options. But there are still some major calorie bombs blowing up their menu. (Like the 2710 calorie Pastry Ring!) Here are 6 ways to navigate Panera’s menu so you lose weight rather than pack on pounds:
Ignore the Ps Panini and Pasta
Those little grill lines on the panini sandwiches? They turn a normal sandwich into a 720 to 840 calorie blow-out. And the pesto-pasta? 930 calories and 52 grams of fat. Do yourself a favor, don’t come to Panera for their paninis or pasta plates.
Go for the Flat Bread
If you need a sandwich at Panera, the flatbreads are your best option. From 280 to 360 calories a piece, you can have a drink and a snack and not blow your calorie budget. Plus, they all come with generous helpings of fresh vegetables.
Skip the Clam Chowder
This bowl of soup will not only cost you 720 calories, you’ll also get a heart-stopping 62 grams of fat and 1020 mg of sodium, about as much as you’re supposed to consume of each in a day. No to mention that 41 of those 62 grams of fat are saturated fat (which you’re supposed to get only 13 grams of per day.) Instead, choose their low-fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable Soup. It’s is only 140 calories and, at 830 mg, one the only soups that has less than 1k mg of sodium.
Bypass the Bagels
Even if you choose the lowest-calorie bagel option: the plain bagel with plain cream cheese, you’re spending 490 calories on 20 grams of fat and 13 grams of protein. For only 390 calories you can get the Breakfast Power ham, egg and cheese sandwich and reap 16 grams of satiating protein and only 16 grams of fat. The choice is clear.
Save Room for Cake
Strawberry rhubarb mini cake! At 250 calories, it’s 100 to 300 calories less than any of the cookies, scones, muffins and sweet pastries on the menu. Their Pecan Roll, which is basically a sticky bun, is 740 calories. Orange Scone? 540 calories. And they have something called the Pastry Ring that’s 2,710 calories…let’s hope they slice that up to serve it.
Choose Tea Not a Latte
Their Acia Berry Iced Tea is zero calories, and it’s made with green tea, so it’ll pick you up without weighing you down. Their frozen mocha latte is 540 calories. The hot vanilla latte is 230 calories.