Panera: What A Kid’s Meal Should Be

As a parent and as a dietitian, I support restaurants and manufacturers who use clean ingredients, no attention grabbing gimmicks and offer a variety of healthy options for my family and I.  For these simple reasons, Panera is my poster child for what a kid’s meal should be.


The January 2016 Journal of Clinical Pediatrics published research by Batada stating that artificial colors were found in 40 percent of grocery store items marketed to kids. Panera Kids Meals remain clean of artificial flavors, sweeteners or colors from artificial sources.


Dietitians have long cited the problems related to using food to reward, bribe or punish because it begins to attach emotions to food that may promote food battles and disordered eating. The toy-collecting gimmick is still widely leveraged by top performing chains including McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway and Chick-fil-A. Cereal, chicken nugget and pasta manufactures just to name a few also use crazy colors, animal shapes and cartoon characters to entice your child’s appetite. Panera uses no such trinkets, toys or attention grabbing shapes and colors, just healthy, nourishing food.

Healthy Pairings

Kids are picky, so let them be kids but offer them healthy options to choose from. Rather than the soda and fry option, Panera offers your child the ability to mix and match healthy soups, whole fruits, crunchy vegetables, organic dairy and sprouted grain rolls to come up with the meal that makes them happy. The beverage choice is optional and does not include the sugar-sweetened varieties. In fact soda has never been on their kid’s meal. Water, organic milk and 100% fruit juice have been their menu options since day one.


Panera created The Kids Meal Promise to keep all of its kids’ menu items free of artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners and colors as identified on the company’s No No List. They are so invested in creating a healthy food environment our kids that as of August 11, the Panera Challenge was issued to the entire restaurant and food manufacturers industry. Panera understands the health problems that are created when your child makes connections between food and beverages with eye-catching color, prizes and sugar and they’ve committed to not play this game. I support a company that has had my child’s health in mind and I love a good challenge.

A promise is promise. Do you know what’s inside your kids’ meal?




Categories: Nutrition & Wellness

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