Hey Ya’ll! Just felt like saying “y’all.” Today I want to share my super secret, “Kim don’t be so cheap” way of getting more for less at Panera Bread every time. Specifically, how I get full sized portions for the half sized portion price.
It’s so stupid and does come off as cheap, but it also makes me a little giddy every time I have success with it. I honest to God stumbled upon this by accident, and after the unintended, but lovely result, experimented, as I am wont to do, to see if it was a one off. It wasn’t. It’s so flippin’ simple. Here it is:
Order a Half Portion Size Online for Take Out.
Yep. That’s it. Well not exactly everything, but if you order a half sized portion online (computer or mobile app) you’re like 95% there. Panera Bread’s full sized sandwiches and salads are priced around $8-10 in my area, while a half sized portion is on average $2 or so less. The half portion is just that. Half. PB gets you psychologically because you’re like, “Shoot, I might as well ONLY spend $2 more and get a full sized meal,” right? Truth be told, however, I find that a half size is enough.
Anyway, here’s what I discovered. When you order online there’s a way to customize your meal. There are categories such as bread, meat, vegetables, etc., which you can click on to revise or add items. Curiosity about the cost of the additions led me to start clicking around, and my greedy self found that you can add five extra items at no cost. This does not include things like meat, cheese, and boiled eggs, but does include things like extra kale, spinach, onions, tomatoes, cabbage slaw, etc.
I was like, “Whoa! Panera Bread really loves me and wants me to be all healthy and have a good vegetable intake and what not, so let me go ahead and add these five extra items to my half portion sandwich or salad for free.” The result?
One: I paid less for more. At least two dollars less per transaction. You know I always love that!
Two: And this is where I get giddy because technically it’s a gamble, right? I mean there’s no GUARANTEE that this will work, but it has for me. For instance I’ve gotten:
1. A half sandwich piled so high it might as well have been full sized.
2. Whole sandwiches instead of half. I mean literal full-sized sandwiches. It’s like Panera Bread said, “We ain’t got time tryin’ to figure out how to get all these extras in that half sandwich. Just make another half.”
3. It’s the same thing with the salads. PB has half sized take out and full sized take out salad boxes. I’ve received half portion sized salad boxes stuffed to the brim, making them default full sized salads, or they just go ahead and make me a full sized salad and place it in a full sized box.
It’s Crazy That it Works Out Like This but it Does.
Note: I have no reason in the world to doubt that you can do this in the restaurant at the counter as well. However, in-store, unless you’ve memorized the menu and know what items can be added for free, it might be harder. Plus, while the PB staff members are nice, I’ve always found in any establishment like this that different people are knowledgeable about certain things and I don’t want to encounter staff who either don’t know what can be added, or tell you no, it can’t be changed or whatever.
Plus, just between you and me I’m a little embarrassed. I’m in there often enough. I’m sure these lovely folks know I’m gaming the system a bit. I don’t need to look them in the eye while I’m asking for five free extra items each time. I’m perfectly satisfied going to the take out holding area and picking up my bag and walking out.
I figured something else out by accident too that seems to increase my chances of doubling my portion size for less money. Ordering during their busy time. It just so happens that I get hungry at lunch time like everyone else. Can you believe it? So when Panera Bread fits the bill that day, I make sure to order during the lunch rush. My theory is that they’re so focused on getting the orders out quickly that they’re not paying as close attention, so the chances of them throwing more in increases. So far it’s played out exactly like that. This is my “half portion” Fuji Apple Chicken Salad from two days ago. Nooice.
More Glorious Secret Dirtiness…
This will only work for the sandwiches and salads because, well, there’s not much to customize with the half portion soups. With that said, you could do this with the “You Pick Two” option where you select two half sized portions of soups, salads, and sandwiches.
You know, it never dawned on me until this moment to see if you could add five free items to both of your half sized “You Pick Two” portions, so I just did a mock order. You know what?? YOU CAN!!! But I won’t. I’m laughing at the thought of adding ten free combined extras on my half sandwich and salad “You Pick Two.” I’m not quite brassy enough to do that. Plus, I’m not saving any money this way since I’m paying the full “You Pick Two” price. But I would LOVE it if one of you did it and reported back! Ha ha.
So there you have it, my dirty secret, Kim don’t be so cheap but it works way to get full sized portions for less at Panera Bread every time.* Note the asterisk. I confess that’s because writing “every time” sounds better than like 90% of the time, which is about my actual success rate. There was the time I was disappointed that I didn’t end up getting a whole sandwich. Shame on them! There was also the time that my half portion salad ended up being more like a half portion with some extra, GASP, like I ordered.
I’m so bad. Do you have a dirty secret don’t be so cheap, but it’s legal so yeah way of getting getting foodie discounts? Let me know so I can share (and try).