We live in a rapidly expanding area and our newest restaurant option is a Panera Bread! I haven’t been to Panera in years - we just haven’t lived close enough to one to make it. However, I used to love going to Panera back in the day so I was excited to take a look at the menu and see what kinds of macro-friendly options they have.
Lately, my go-to fast food option has been Chick-fil-A or Subway as they have some of the best macro-friendly fast food options. But with the addition of a Panera Bread right down the street, it looks like I’ll be able to mix things up a bit! And It’s always helpful to know what to order when you’re trying to stay on track with your nutrition and stick to your macros.
In this article, I’m taking you with me on my journey to finding the best macro-friendly Panera Bread options. Here’s what my go-to orders would look like!
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Is Panera Bread Macro-Friendly?
Before we reveal my choices, I want to first make an important note: just because a restaurant markets itself as a healthier alternative to traditional fast food doesn’t mean it is. When you think Panera Bread, you probably think of soups, salads, and well-put-together sandwiches. And you’re not wrong! They have an amazing lineup of delicious-looking foods.
But if you’re tracking macros or being mindful of your choices, then it’s important that you know what to look for because your soup and sandwich can easily pack in just as much or more calories than a trip to the McDonald’s drive-thru.
All that being said, yes, there are some fantastic macro-friendly options to be found at Panera Bread, so let’s dive in and explore them so you can be prepared for your next Panera meal!
Making Macro-Balanced Choices At Panera Bread - Tips & Tricks
If you want to make macro-balanced choices when you go out to Panera Bread, consider modifying your order to optimize your macros and stay on track with your goals:
- Skip the cheese on your sandwich
- Skip the heavy sauces and dressings
- Skip the bun
- Order a half sandwich vs a full sandwich
- Ask for salad dressings on the side
- Choose an apple, banana, or yogurt on the side vs. chips or baguette
- Consider ordering from the kid’s menu for a smaller entree
- Choose low or zero-calorie beverages
Macro-Friendly Panera Breakfast Choices
Panera’s breakfast options are sandwiches, so here’s what I would recommend if you’re headed out for breakfast.
1. Avocado, Egg White, Spinach & Cheese on Sprouted Grain Bagel Flat
2. Bacon, Scrambled Egg & Cheese on Ciabatta
3. Sausage, Scrambled Egg & Cheese on Ciabatta
*This is a significant amount of fat for 1 meal. If you want to reduce this, I recommend ordering this sandwich without the cheese.
4. Greek Yogurt Parfait With Mixed Berries
Breakfast Sides Recommendations
Summer Fruit Cup
Hard Boiled Eggs (2 eggs)
Squeezable Yogurt Packet
Macro-Friendly Panera Entrée Options
Panera Bread is most well-known for its soups, sandwiches, and salads, all of which are great for both lunch and dinner. I’ll break down my top 3 macro-balanced picks based on category, but keep in mind that you can pretty much make anything on the menu fit! This post is solely meant to give you some ideas and direction.
In general, if you’re trying to stay on track with your macros and not make your meal out at Panera your whole day's worth of calories, I recommend sticking to the half sandwich option, especially if you plan to add a side.
Tuna Salad Sandwich (Half)
Signature Take Chicken Sandwich
Deli Turkey Sandwich (half)
Strawberry Poppyseed Salad With Chicken (whole)
Caesar Salad With Chicken (whole)
Asian Sesame Salad With Chicken
Soups & Mac Options
Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup
Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Chicken Tikka Masala Soup
Kids Menu Options
Kids Napa Almond Chicken Sandwich
Kids Tuna Salad Sandwich
Kids Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Macro-Friendly Panera Drink Options
Panera Bread actually has a much larger array of beverages to choose from than I thought, which is great! However, some of their drinks have enough calories to be a meal on their own, so just be mindful of your choices if you’re looking to stay within a certain budget. Here are my top picks!
- Diet or zero-calorie sodas and soft drinks
- Plain Iced Tea
Frozen Strawberry Lemonade
Madagascar Vanilla Almond Cold Brew
Wrapping Up My Macro-Friendly Panera Bread Options
After combing through the full Panera Bread menu, I can confidently say that I’m very excited for our town to now have one. I don’t tend to eat out often these days as I work from home. But every so often I like to grab something on the go for nothing more than the novelty of something new and for a break in the kitchen.
When it comes to macro-friendly meals from a drive-thru, Panera Bread is definitely up there as one of the best options, in my opinion.
Keep in mind that all foods fit into your nutrition plan. The meals I suggested in this article are just suggestions and are the options that I will gravitate toward most. Your needs and goals can be very different from mine! I simply try to identify the more macro-balanced options so I can still enjoy a full day of eating around my meal out and not feel like I need to restrict or limit myself during my other meals.
If you’re like me and you tend to do a lot of cooking at home, you’ll love our free macro-friendly recipes and meal plans!