Even in the current economic state, with most restaurants suffering the worst quarterly decline in 28 years, Panera is experiencing otherwise. Since 1981, the franchise has opened 1,264 stores in 40 states. There’s another 80 stores opening this year, which is about the same number as last years’ openings. Panera has even raised two menu item prices: bagels and soup. There is also a new addition to the Panera menu: a $7.59 chopped cobb salad .
While Panera sports hefty prices, I continue coming back for more. Those baguettes are worth fasting for breakfast in order to fund the addiction (I’m only half kidding…we should all eat breakfast). Though Panera is known for the use of wholesome ingredients and lack of fried foods, the menu still very much so requires navigation in order to be healthy.
Q: What does the RD order at Panera?
A: You-Pick-2: ½ smoked turkey on sourdough (light on the mayo) with Garden Vegetable or Black Bean soup.
Top 5 “best” picks:
1. Panini: Turkey Artichoke Panini (750 calories, 27 g. fat, 7 g. saturated fat)
2. Signature Sandwich: Asiago Roast Beef (710 calories, 32 g. fat, 13 g. saturated fat*)
3. Café Sandwich: Mediterranean Veggie (610 calories, 13 g. fat, 3 g. saturated fat)
4. Salad: Classic (170 calories, 11 g. fat, 1.5 g. saturated fat)
5. Soup: Vegetarian Garden Vegetable (120 calories, 1 g. fat, 0 g. saturated fat)
Top 5 “worst” picks:
1. Panini: Chicken Bacon Dijon (940 calories, 36 g. fat, 13 g. saturated fat*)
2. Signature Sandwich: Chipotle Chicken on Artisan French (1070 calories, 55 g. fat, 15 g. saturated fat*)
3. Café Sandwich: Sierra Turkey (970 calories, 54 g. fat, 12 g. saturated fat)
4. Salad: Chopped Chicken Cobb (490 calories, 35 g. fat, 8 g. saturated fat)
5. Soup: New England Clam Chowder (450 calories, 34 g. fat, 20 g. saturated fat*)
Crazy, huh? Just this week I made a “Which is the better burger?” handout for my patients on the local burger hot spots like Sonic, McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr., and Burger King. While not a single burger exceeded 1,000 calories, the Chipotle Chicken on Artisan and the Sierra Turkey reach that 4-digit mark…one we probably want to avoid at all costs. Similarly, not a single burger exceeded 2,000 mg of sodium, while every sandwich on Panera’s menu met or surpassed that amount**. And while Carl’s Jr.’s Famous Bacon Cheese Six Dollar Burger comes in at a sickening 950 calories and 1980 mg sodium, Panera keeps up with the best of’em in keeping us with excess poundage .
Want to check-out the damage in your usual order? Check it out: http://www.panerabread.com/menu/cafe/.
*Exceeds the recommended daily allowance.
**2,300 mg of sodium is the recommended limit while 1,500 mg of sodium is recommended daily for those with hypertension
. Horovitz, Bruce. Panera Bakes A Recipe For Success. USA Today. July 23, 2009.