Menuism Dining Blog
Dining education for foodies

Photo by Panera Bread / Facebook

When I was growing up, my process for finding fast food to meet my dietary needs went like this: I’d pore over the major chains’ nutritional information, which wasn’t easy to find back then, to identify menu items that were lower in fat and calories. I loved (and still love) fast food, so I had many a meal that featured Taco Bell’s Border Lights Burrito Supreme (eight grams of fat) or a grilled chicken sandwich from McDonald’s (250 calories). That was how I lost 60 lbs. as a teenager.

But today’s dieters have different and more varied needs. Some are gluten conscious. Some focus specifically on cutting down on added sugar. Others are looking to eat more protein-rich foods. And then there are those who want more plant-based diets.

While the fast-food industry has taken steps over the years to be more transparent with its nutritional information, it’s been slow to adapt to changing dietary needs. The exception, however, is Panera Bread, which recently launched three curated menus — Plant Based, Protein Rich, and Nutrient-Packed — to its existing curated Gluten Conscious and Sodium Conscious menus aimed specifically at making it easier for customers with specific tastes or dietary preferences.

So for instance, the Plant-Based menu offers customers a list of menu items featuring almonds and quinoa as its main protein, and fresh produce like romaine, arugula, avocado, citrus, and blueberries. For those who want more protein, all of the items on the Protein Rich menu like the Avocado Cobb Salad contain at least 20% of the recommended daily value of protein. And for those focused on the right balance of calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber and protein, there’s the Nutrient-Packed menu with items such as the Blueberry and White Balsamic Salad.

I recently visited my neighborhood Panera Bread in Northridge, California and was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was to adhere to any of these dietary palates. Each menu lists all the items that fit under those dietary guidelines, so all customers have to do is choose from the items on that specific menu. In recent weeks, I have tried to eat more plant-based foods, and it was nice not to have to wonder whether the grilled cheese sandwich and creamy tomato soup that I ordered were okay to eat.

“We think people should be able to eat the way they want, whether it’s by customizing a menu item to their own tastes or knowing they have many food options to choose from,” said Katie Bengston, Panera Bread’s nutrition manager. “The new curated menus are another way we’re making it easier for our guests to order great food that works for their lifestyle.”

Expect more of the major fast food chains to follow Panera’s lead in offering more specific dietary menus. Consumers’ tastes are changing, and changing often. We’re way beyond simply counting fat and calories. Panera soon won’t be the only one keeping pace.

Posted by on August 21st, 2017

Filed In: Fast Food

Last Articles

dining room at little palm island hamilton house restaurant hot springs ar pizza hut mercury blvd hampton va 1951 s. san pedro st. los angeles ca 90011 subway oneida st green bay wi go go china haltom city tx pizza hut augusta ga washington rd d&m subs escanaba mi 2340 s cooper st arlington tx 76015 mcl restaurant and bakery columbus ohio pizza king creasy lane lafayette in steak and shake bowling green ky guppy's on the beach indian rocks beach, fl 811 s long beach blvd compton, ca 90221 number one chinese restaurant hightstown nj mabel's lobster claw kennebunkport, me my father's place warner robins ga salute brick oven bistro montclair nj waffle house washington road east point ga v&s sinking spring pa pizza hut twin city hwy port arthur tx pizza villa land o lakes fl red star chinese restaurant dearborn mi nearest kfc to my current location main moon chinese restaurant youngstown, oh harry's sports grill north haven ct teppanyaki grill & supreme buffet - fridley cherry valley cafe cherry valley il gold town sushi & korean bbq champs sports bar and grill locations pie in the sky lampeter pa the byrd house orchard park ny honey baked ham salt lake city mandarin chinese restaurant chula vista menu

Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage analyst for Industry Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based market intelligence firm. It's the perfect job for him: He loves junk food, he often works besides a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper, and anytime one of the health nuts in his office gives him grief for eating a Big Mac, he gets to smile and say: "Hey, this is my job." Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

Bun Boy Eats LA

Bun Boy Eats LA
LA City Guide

Sara Grunden Kuhs

Sara Grunden Kuhs
Richmond, VA City Guide

Jeff Pearl

Jeff Pearl
Chicago City Guide

Juliet White

Juliet White
Sante Fe City Guide

Ashley Dickey

Ashley Dickey
Orlando City Guide

Justin Chen

Justin Chen
Menuism Co-Founder

John Li

John Li
Menuism Co-Founder

Kim Kohatsu

Kim Kohatsu
Managing Editor

Quantcast