Soup’s On at Panera Bread

When I was growing up, my family had dinner together every night.  We all had very busy schedules but we always made an effort to have dinner together.  Now that I am on my own, I try to emulate this tradition with my boyfriend.  Most nights I try to make dinner because we try to eat healthier and it fits in our budget.  Making dinner every night can be tough because when I get home at night it’s 6:30-7 after a full day of working I am often tired, hungry, and not in the mood to cook.  This is why when I plan our menu for the week, I try to pick simple and healthy recipes and leave one day open for Panera Bread.  We love Panera because it fits into both our diet plans and is very affordable.

My favorite pick at Panera is their Broccoli Cheddar soup.  I feel like this soup gets a bad reputation because it’s so creamy and delicious that it seems unhealthy.  When you get the soup in a Pick Two combo with a Salad, it easily fits into my diet plan.  I use the Panera website beforehand to look at the nutrition calculator and determine what I can order that is within my calories left for the day.  Most days, I order the Pick Two with the Broccoli Cheddar soup and the Half Greek Salad.   For sides, I switch it up between an apple, Baked Lays, or occasionally the oh, so delicious French bread.

Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

My boyfriend’s dinner of choice is the Pick Two with a half sandwich and the French Onion Soup.  He usually has the Sierra Turkey Sandwich, but recently he has been getting the Big Kid Grilled Cheese with Bacon.   He is a big fan of Panera’s French onion soup.   He likes that the French Onion Soup is not as heavy with cheese like when you get it at a diner or restaurant.

Panera French Onion Soup

The great thing about Panera Bread’s soups is that the combinations are practically endless.   With Panera having different soups available every day of the week, you can try a different type each day.   Haven’t been in a while?  Check out their soup page and daily soup menu.  What’s your favorite soup at Panera?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Panera Bread.  However, all opinions are my own.

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Panera Mac and Cheese

I recently came across this recipe for Panera Mac and Cheese and knew I needed to make it on the next cold, rainy fall day that we had.  I made a batch of it this afternoon while Baby T was napping (he is recovering from a cold and is ever so grouchy when he is sick.)  I figured some mac and cheese would be the perfect antidote for his dinner tonight.

My first memory of going to a Panera was when I had my first job out of college.  My apartment was just down the street from one and I would stop in all the time to grab a weekend bagel or even a loaf of bread to serve alongside dinner.  I hadn’t been to one in years, but lately my family and I seem to be going all the time.  I’ve actually never tried the Panera Mac and Cheese before, but I have heard rave reviews. I’m usually a Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil kind of girl, but after making this recipe, I might be leaning towards the Mac and Cheese next time.  Or then again, I could just make this recipe again…

Panera Mac and Cheese
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 (16-ounce) package of small pasta shells (I used Orecchiette)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 and ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 and ¼ cup half & half
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 4 oz. white American cheese, chopped
  • 8 oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions in a large pot of water. Drain pasta and return cooked pasta to the pot.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk and half & half. Add mustard, salt, and hot sauce to pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cheese by the handful, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
  5. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir until incorporated.

Source: Adapted from and Annies’s Eats

Do you grab a bite to eat from Panera occasionally?  What’s your favorite menu item?

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