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9 Tips & Tricks for a Better Panera Menu

linsaythomas profile picture
Linsay ThomasGuest Blogger
August 01, 2016 · 15.6k Views

Panera Bread is a popular destination for those looking for a sandwich, wrap, soup, salad or other lunchtime treat. The food is great, the prices – not so much. Panera does not offer coupons, so you need to know how to save money in other ways. Whether you’re a fairly new customer or have been a regular for many years, you can make your next visit better than usual with these genius hacks. There’s always something new to learn about ordering from your favorite restaurant, so read on to see how you can order what you want at Panera and get healthier and less expensive options.

Subscribe to Panera Bread emails to get information on awesome Panera promotions and deals happening at your local restaurant. You can also grab discounted Panera Bread gift cards to save even more on your purchase.


1. Make the most of free refills.

Source: Yelp

Unless you’re grabbing your food to-go, you don’t need to buy the largest size available. Instead, save money by buying a small drink and refilling as much as you’d like. This is a trick you can apply to almost all fast food restaurants. So hang out with your friends a little longer and take advantage of the free refills. It’s worth mentioning that not all drinks – such as lemonade, tea, smoothies and made-to-order drinks – come with free refills.

2. Get free avocado.

Usually you have to pay extra for avocado in a sandwich or salad, but not with this little-known Panera hack. If you order a vegetarian version of a meal and add avocado, it’ll cost you an extra $1.59. So the workaround is to order the meat version of the meal and substitute the meat with avocado for free. This is a great money-saving trick for those times when you just don’t feel like eating meat.

3. Get a dessert for 99 cents.

Source: Becuo

You may not know that if you buy an entrée and a drink, you can get any dessert for just 99 cents. This is a steal considering that some desserts are close to $5. So if you’ve been craving that brownie, don’t feel guilty any longer. Just add it your meal and you’ll feel like a rock star!

Pro Tip: Use Apple Pay when you order via the Panera App and you'll be eligible to receive a free cookie on a future purchase at Panera.

4. Get a meal for under 500 calories.

Panera offers many yummy food options, and while many are healthy, you’ll still find it difficult to get an entire meal for fewer than 500 calories. Your best option is to get the You Pick Two and get half classic salad and half low fat chicken noodle soup. You’ll get a complete meal for just 160 calories. If that’s not enough to fill you up, you can also order a French baguette for an additional 180 hours and still stay within your 500-calorie cap.

5. Get more rewards.

If you frequent Panera often, sign up for the rewards card. With MyPanera Rewards, you receive a free item upon registration and several times throughout the year. You also receive rewards based on the number of purchases you make. Because you’re not limited to one purchase per day you can take advantage of this offer by making multiple purchases in one day. Split up your bread and other purchases and earn more rewards, quicker.

6. Follow Panera on social media.

Panera does offer deal days and special promotions from time to time. You’ll want to know when these are happening so you can stop by and enjoy your favorite menu items while saving money. Go to their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter so you can get the latest deals. Special offers will vary from location and may be something like $1 off a menu item or a reduced price on bread or bagels.

7. Add extra ingredients for free.

Source: Serious Eats

If you’re looking to beef up your salad or sandwich with a few extra vegetables, you’re in luck. Panera typically does not charge for these extra ingredients, so get your five servings of veggies for free. Your heart and your wallet will thank you.

8. Visit at night for free pastries.

At the end of the day, leftover pastries either go home with employees or they’re tossed out. As you know, it’s a crime to throw away anything that delicious, so save a pastry from impending doom by visiting your local Panera at night just before closing. You might get lucky if there are any extras.

9. Order whatever you want.

Source: LA Times

This has to be done reasonably, of course. Panera restaurants don’t carry every ingredient in the world, but they do offer a lot more than what you see on the menu. So if you don’t see a specific food listed, and you want it, ask and see what can be done. If they have the ingredients on hand, they can make it for you.

By knowing how to order at Panera ahead of time, you won’t feel rushed when it’s time to make a decision as to what to eat. You can eat healthy, save money and enjoy your meal. Follow the hacks above and you’ll make the most of your experience the next time you visit Panera.


linsaythomas profile picture
Linsay Thomas is a seasoned writer and editor who has written thousands of articles about topics such as saving money, healthcare, law, pets and education. She hails from California, where she lives with her husband, two children and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys sports, breeding chocolate Labs and visiting the beach.
zooscarAug 06, 2016
Eat. eat. eat. :)
Vicky0803Aug 04, 2016
Like it,Thanks for share.
dtran5Aug 04, 2016
No problem! Hope you use these tips on your next Panera Bread visit :)

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