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How to Eat Healthy at Panera Bread

by | Oct 3, 2019 | Last updated Oct 26, 2022

Author: Caitlin Suter, MS

Panera Bread is known as a fast-casual restaurant, with the intention to make customers feel good about their food choices and their experience too. With fresh items, nutrient-rich foods,  free WiFi, a fireplace, member rewards, and more, there’s a lot to feel good about.

Did you know?

  • All of Panera’s food is free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors and artificial colors. And if you’re itching to know exactly what they exclude, check out this list to get the deets.
  • Panera was the first national restaurant to disclose calories on their menus in 2010, setting an industry standard. 
  • The restaurant is also committed to efforts in animal welfare, such as reduced confinement for animals in their supply chain, chickens raised with no antibiotics, and expanding welfare efforts for broiler hens beyond antibiotic use.
  • Leftover bread and baked goods (baked fresh every day), are donated to local food banks.

Panera Bread has a lot of great qualities that go into their food, but “healthy” can be defined by so much more. While all of these factors can support a healthy diet and make you feel good about the menu items you’re choosing, it’s still very possible to surpass your health goals, calorie budget, food color goals, sugar intake, sodium intake, and more, without the knowledge you need to make the best choices for you.

With that in mind, we rounded up some lower calorie items and tips for making the items you love align with your goals.

Plan Ahead

Looking at the menu ahead of time will allow you to view your options, calories, and ingredients to help you make less impulsive decisions about your meal when you get there.null

Choose wisely

From the bakery

  • Bagels: Plain, Everything, Sesame, and Sprouted Grain bagels will keep you under 300 calories before adding spreads. Chive and Onion, Honey Walnut, and any variety of reduced-fat cream cheeses will add around 110-140 calories per container, but consider ordering preserves if looking for a lighter spread at 90 calories. 
  • Scones: Mini scones (120 calories each)
  • Cookies: Petite Chocolate Chipper cookies (100 calories each), Cocoa & Creme cookie (170 calories), Coconut macaroons (140 calories each), Apple Pie Almond Thumbprint cookie (240 calories)
  • Pastries: Croissant (260 calories), Cherry Cheese Brittany (320 calories)
  • Muffins & Muffies: Muffies – Panera’s version of a muffin top – will keep you between 280 and 320 calories compared to their 450-570 calorie muffins.
  • Parfaits & Fruit: Fresh fruit cup (60 calories), Berry Parfait with yogurt (300 calories), 
  • Oatmeal: Steel Cut Oatmeal with Almonds and Quinoa (340 calories)
  • Bread: Farmstyle (90 calories per 2oz), Country Rustic (130 calories per 2oz), Whole Grain (130 Calories per 2 oz)
  • Breakfast: Mediterranean Egg White Wrap (270 calories), Avocado, Egg White & Spinach (410 calories), Maple Bacon, Scrambled Egg & Cheese Wrap (430 calories), Chipotle Chicken, Scrambled Egg & Avocado Wrap (460 calories)

From the fountain

  • Teas & Water: Water (0 calories), Hot Tea (0 calories), Unsweetened Ice Tea (0 calories), Plum Ginger Hibiscus Tea (0 calories), Prickly Pear Hibiscus Fresca (90 calories) 
  • Smoothies: Peach & Blueberry Smoothie with almond milk (180 calories), Green Passion Smoothie (200 calories)
  • Coffee Drinks: Plain coffee (15-20 calories per 16oz), Cold Brew – Madagascar Vanilla Almond (100 calories per 16oz) or with Vanilla Cream (200 calories)
  • Espresso Drinks: Espresso (5 calories), Caffe Latte (130 calories per 16oz), Cappuccino (130 calories per 16oz)

From the line

  • Sandwiches: BBQ Chicken Flatbread (400 calories), Mediterranean Veggie (440 calories), Steak & Arugula Sandwich (470 calories), Turkey Sandwich (540 calories), Heritage Ham & Swiss (600 calories)
  • Salads: Seasonal Greens Salad (190 calories), Greek Salad (400 calories), Caesar Salad (320 calories) & with chicken (450 calories), Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken (410 calories), Spicy Thai Salad with Chicken (500 calories), Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa (540 calories), Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken (550 calories)
  • Soups: Ten Vegetable (100 calories/bowl), Chicken Noodle (170 calories/bowl), Turkey Chili (310 calories/bowl)
  • Bowls: Medditerranean Grain Bowl (590 calories)

Customize it

Whether in store or online, you’re able to customize just about any item on the menu. For those who like to know how their customizations affect that item’s calories, ordering online or at the in-store kiosks allows you to see the calorie changes in real time with each customization made. 

Make it a “you pick two”

Get the best of both worlds by choosing two favorite items served as half sizes, giving you the variety you want for less calories. 

Stay mindful of sides

When ordering a meal, you’re given the option of a french baguette, a sprouted grain roll, chips, an apple, or for an additional price, a fruit cup. If already getting bread with your meal, maybe opt for an apple or fruit cup to balance out the meal. Or simply opt for no side if the meal itself feels like it will be enough.