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I work from home, but consider Panera my “satellite office.” In the colder months, I love sidling up to the fireplace while spooning a bread bowl (carb addict, here!). Come summer, I anxiously await the return of the strawberry poppyseed and chicken salad.
Suffice to say, I spend a lot of time, and, subsequently, money at Panera. Thankfully, some fellow Panera-loving experts know their way around the menu and can offer savings tips.
1. Sign Up For The Rewards Card
The easiest way to save is to sign up for the “My Panera” rewards card. Just by signing up you’ll get a “reward.” Show your card or give your phone number during each visit to Panera, and you’ll start racking up rewards that are personalized based on what you order. For example, I frequently get discount offers on “You Pick Two” menu items because that’s a frequent order of mine. Panera, you know me so well.
2. Share Your Birthday
When your birthday rolls around, you’ll get a sweet treat as a reward. Since several retailers and restaurants have rewards program, consider sharing your half birthday so you can spread that birthday loving out throughout the year.
3. Stack Your Rewards
Your friendly Panera cashier will tell you when your rewards will “expire.” You can also check this by logging into your account or by looking at the bottom of your receipt. I recently let my “rewards” accumulate and cashed in on two, $2 off “You Pick Two” rewards. Sure, there’s no such thing as a free lunch; but that was a pretty heavily discounted one.
4. Give Your E-mail Address
In addition to accumulating rewards, you can get extra deals in your inbox, like discounts on delivery.
5. Buy Gift Cards on Discount Sites
If you eat at Panera frequently, consider buying a gift card to the restaurant through a discount gift card site like Gift Card Granny. It’s a marketplace for people to sell their gift card balances, and at a discount. Some supply-and-demand economics are at play and not a lot of people are giving up their Panera cards, so you won’t net huge savings (about 2 percent), but it’s a pretty seamless process transferring the e-gift cards.
6. Get Discounts Buying Corporate Gift Cards
Panera doesn’t reveal how much you’ll save, buy buying corporate gift cards in bulk can net a discount.
7. Get Half-Priced Pastries With Meals
Always save room for dessert. When you order a drink and a meal, you can nab yourself 99-cent pastries. Mmm. Chocolate chip cookies. Deals Plus also says that you might get lucky if you make a late-night visit to Panera and they just so happen to be getting rid of some of their pastries.
8. Re-Create Meals at Home
Panera sells several of its products in grocery stores, including soups, salad dressings, pastas, bread and coffee. They’ve also got some great recipe inspiration on their website, like creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese crouton skewers that can be passed around as an appetizer at your next dinner party.
9. Find ‘Copycat’ Recipes
Thanks to some recipe-testing sleuths, you can re-create Panera recipes at home. Yummly, a recipe app, has a special section devoted to copycat recipes, including a recipe for broccoli cheddar soup. Or, the One Crazy House blog has a round-up of 16 copycat Panera recipes, starring soups, salads, mac and cheese and a cinnamon bagel.
10. Load up Veggies on Your Salad
Yes, you know, avocado costs extra. But, there are some veggies and extras that you can add to your order and that Panera won’t likely charge you for, according to the Krazy Coupon Lady. We’re talking crunchy apple chips and wontons or veggies like cucumbers and onions.
11. Eat Bagels On Tuesdays
If you’re bringing bagels to the office, do so on a Tuesday. You can get a baker’s dozen for $6.99 at Panera every Tuesday. Considering a half dozen bagels costs $6.29 any other day, that’s a pretty good deal.
12. Order a small drink
Psst. Refills are free so there’s no need to spend extra on a large drink.