Panera Bread is a fast food restaurant where many people go to eat a quick, filling meal. Panera appeals to most people because of the amount of options it offers, which makes it difficult to be dissatisfied. After choosing foods to use on our good day and our bad day, we immediately noticed several differences. For breakfast on the bad day we chose a pecan roll; while on the good day we chose a whole grain bagel with reduced fat roasted vegetable cream cheese. The first thing we saw was that the pecan roll was much higher not only in calories, but calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugars. At the same time however, the dietary fiber and protein, essential nutrients, were much lower in the pecan roll. The choices of drinks in the morning also have a great difference between them. The Pumpkin Spice Latte contains 78% more calories than the Hot Coffee.
For lunch on a bad day, the large Mac N’ Cheese would be a perfect choice. This meal alone has 980 calories. As if just the meal was not bad enough, Panera offers a side to go with it. For the side of this meal, we chose the French baguette. For the good day we decided that the Classic Salad would be the best choice. It has minimal calories and a great supply of several different nutrients. The side that we thought would best fit this meal is an apple. A drink that would go with the bad day for the lunch meal is a frozen caramel frozen drink. Shockingly, the amount of calories in this drink is more than the amount of calories in our entire breakfast on our good day.
Dinner for the bad day at Panera Bread would be steak and white cheddar hot Panini. It contains almost half the amount of kcals the average person should consume in one day! In addition to those 1,000 calories we chose a side of a bag of Panera’s’ kettle chips. For the good day dinner, we chose a “You Pick Two”, the meals being half of a tuna sandwich on honey wheat and a cup of low-fat garden vegetable soup. The side for the “You Pick Two” would be a dill pickle that has 5 kcals. The drinks for these two meals would be a large lemonade on the bad day, and a tropical hibiscus flavored iced herbal tea on the good day. If you wanted to have a dessert at the end of both days, the bear claw pastry would be a great choice for the bad day, while the cinnamon coffee crumb cake would work the best for the good day.
What we learned from doing this project is that even though Panera Bread comes off as somewhat healthy for fast food, it can be really unhealthy for you depending on what you pick. The meals that we chose for the bad day were so high in calories and sodium that we both will never consider these meals as an option again. An example of this was the Mac N’ Cheese. If you order a large, you are consuming 2470 mg of sodium, which is more than the suggested amount you are supposed to consume in one day and it is only one meal. At the same time, you are only taking in 3 grams of dietary fibers. The steak and white cheddar Panini was very similar in this way, absolutely no bang for your buck! On the other hand, we learned that Panera could be somewhat healthy on what you pick.
For example, the “You Pick Two” was not an overall bad choice. It was just a tuna salad sandwich with garden vegetable soup and the kcals and cholesterol was not too high. The only thing that was high, yet not too shocking, was the sodium in the soup. The classic salad was also something that was surprising healthy, even with the dressing on it. It was only 170 kcals with no cholesterol or sodium. On the good day, you would consume about 1200 kcals in total. In comparison, one meal of the bad day consisted of this many kcals.