The Perfect Order at Panera (with Smart Points)

March 15, 2016   13 Comments

I decided to look for the positive at Panera. Isn’t it better to see the glass as half full?

The Perfect Order at Panera

My first step was to print out the entire menu with nutrition facts. I am still shocked by the amount of sodium in the food. I couldn’t find soup that I could recommend and it took me a couple of hours to decide on which choices made the most sense.

I did find a lunch that was pretty healthy overall (still too much sodium - but what ya gonna do?). Above is the Steak and Arugula on Sourdough (half a sandwich) and a classic salad with Caesar dressing on the side. This meal put me back $9 including tax ($5.50 for the half sandwich!) but it was tasty and I really enjoyed the salad.

My Panera had run out of Romaine lettuce so I ended up with a salad of spinach and kale (which I loved). Was this healthy? Sure. Was it affordable? No. You would do far better to use the $9 to buy your own lunch fixings.

If you are looking for a place to eat with friends that will keep you on a diet, you could do far worse (as long as you order well). The good thing is that the menu has the calorie amounts so it is easy to make a lighter choice. Obviously, the salads are all pretty great (as long as they don't have cheese) for keeping on your diet.

Here are my recommendations:


Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal

300 calories, 6 g fat, 1.0 g saturated fat, 52.0 g carbohydrates, 7 g sugar, 8 g protein, 9 g fiber, 220 mg sodium, 9 SmartPts


Half of a Classic Salad with Caesar Dressing

160 calories, 14 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 10 g carbohydrates, 6 g sugar, 1 g protein, 2.0 g fiber, 195 mg sodium, 3 SmartPts

Half of Steak and Arugula on Sourdough

250 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 26.0 g carbohydrates, 4.0 g sugar, 12 g protein, 2.0 g fiber, 450 mg sodium, 8 SmartPts

Roasted Turkey & Caramelized Kale Panini

280 calories, 11 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 28 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 13 g protein, 2 g fiber, 620 mg sodium, 8 SmartPts

Roasted Turkey Cranberry Flatbread

300 calories, 12 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 34.0 g carbohydrates, 8 g sugar, 13 g protein, 3.0 g fiber, 470 mg sodium, 10 SmartPts

What do you order at Panera Bread? Have you found food that works for you?

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Were you aware that Panera Bread has a hidden menu for Paleo/clean eating? You have to ask an employee to order off of it. I wonder how those nutritional stats compare to the regular menu items.

Is that the calories for a half turkey panini? I have trouble believing it's only 280 for a whole one.

I don't know if everyone knows you can get an apple as a side instead of chips or bread.. You can also get an apple a la carte for$1.00. And they will even slice it up for you... A lot more affordable than their fruit salad cups.

My go to is the thai chicken salad. I have the whole salad with nothing else. If im splurging ill have the side of baguette with butter. I love the thai dressing and the spicy pickled veggies they use.

I know it is not the healthiest option but 9 times out of 10 I get the Greek Salad. I love them! As long as I remember to ask for the dressing on the side (they tend to go a little heavy on the dressing for my taste), I have a pretty affordable lunch that tastes good. It is about $8.00 for the salad and a fountain drink. I have had the oatmeal too which is pretty good but I am not really a breakfast person.

I don't go often, but the Thai chicken salad is yummy! Under 500 cal for the whole, but probably high in smart points due to the fat in the peanut dressing. Here is the link to Panera's nutritional info:…

My go to menu at Panera is the U pick 2 option. I get a classic salad with dressing on the side. Their poppy side is fat free but only available seasonally. My other item is the veggie soup without the pesto. It is usually so cool in there that I can eat soup almost year round! Also use Apple as my side. I agree about the sodium and still can't figure where it comes from.

Still wish their apples were organic; otherwise, they are likely to have been sprayed with pesticides. Apples are on the Dirty Dozen list of fruits which are recommended to be bought organic.

I usually get the pick 2 and I get the veggie w/pesto soup and a salad. Sometimes, I get the classic with no croutons and no dressing. ( I bring my own balsamic vinegar) I do get it with chicken. I also the the chicken power kale salad with no dressing and no parmesan crisp which are like croutons. They add so many points but no value to me. I always bring the apple home since I can never eat all of the pick 2.

I get the Fuji Apple Chicken salad, no cheese (just because I hate blue cheese) or in the summer I love the Strawberry & Blueberry salad. Sometimes 1/2 tuna salad with 1/2 fuji apple salad. I tend to go with salads. And yes to the person above the 280 calories is for 1/2 sandwich. Most of the sandwiches are 550-700 calories for the whole thing.

I always order the half mediterranean sandwich. Its crunchy and full of veggies... and the bread it comes on complements the filling perfectly:) Maybe not the healthiest thing on the menu but you can do a lot worse!

You can ask to add up to 5 additional items or customizations to your order. I have satarted adding extra lettuce and veggies to my 1/2 salad with chicken noodle soup pick 2.


That is a great suggestion! I didn't know that and thanks for sharing.

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