Classic Pairs: You Pick Two®

Classic Pairs: You Pick Two®

What’s your ideal meal? Our popular You Pick Two menu feature offers endless possibilities. (No wonder it’s a customer favorite.) And because we know how much you love eating in pairs, we have a few ideas you can try at home.

Variety is the spice of…lunch! How many times have you bemoaned the same old choices facing you for your midday meal? The idea of making more than one choice for lunch is the principle behind the popular You Pick Two menu at Panera Bread®. You can create your preferred meal—soup plus salad; salad plus sandwich; pasta plus salad; flatbread sandwich plus chili—from a selection of half-portion items that add up to tons of delicious combinations.

“The flexibility of being able to pair to your liking puts you in the chef’s hat,” says chef and Panera Bread Food Team member Tom Sadler. “You control the balance between calories, nutrition, and how you want to eat. You may indulge on some days, eat lighter on others.”

Choosing smaller portions of a wider range of foods can be good for you nutritionally too. “A whole sandwich will fill you up, but a half sandwich will leave room for a green salad or a cup of soup” he says. Another great benefit of finding room on your plate for a variety of foods: You’re more likely to stay full longer when you eat a balance of ingredients such as protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Sometimes, though, you just want to try a half size of something new. (And who knows, it may well become your new favorite!) Not sure what might go with what? Try one of our top combinations: the Mediterranean Chicken Flatbread Sandwich paired with the seasonal Turkey Chili; Steak & White Cheddar Panini paired with Bistro French Onion Soup; and Chicken Tortellini Alfredo paired with Caesar Salad. “Some foods are a natural match,” Tom says. “Steak and onions, for example, or two dishes with a Latin or Asian influence.”

At home, take a tip from our chef and combine items that complement each other. Here are a few to try.

  • Pair a composed Mediterranean salad—topped with salami, cheese, chickpeas, and olives—with a simple bruschetta (toasted bread with seasoned chopped tomatoes).
  • Serve Thai lettuce wraps—filled with spiced ground chicken or sautéed veggies—with a miso noodle soup.
  • Team flatbread pizza with an heirloom-tomato salad.
  • Serve half a pita stuffed with hummus, grilled veggies, and feta with a scoop of your favorite whole grain salad (such as quinoa, bulgur, or wheatberries)

Another recommendation: Skip the dinner plates—a dessert or salad dish will keep portions in check.

And don’t forget your sweet tooth! When you are craving something extra, you don’t have to overindulge. Try a pairing approach at home: A small cookie and a fruit cup, or a brownie bite and a yogurt, bring more to the table than a single full-size dessert.