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How the Internet changed my lunch plans for the better, by Kristen Volt

August 26, 2009

This morning I was talking to a co-worker about some such shit when accounting came by to discuss an invoice.  Our conversation was cut short in a most annoying manner so we agreed to go to lunch and catch up, uninterrupted.

The downtown lunch choices aren’t too veg heavy, but I could definitely get something at Panera Bread.  It’s a chain and they will tweak your sandwich or salad any which way.  I had stopped going there some time ago because they started posting the calorie content of each menu item to the left of the menu entry.  It was just too depressing to go in there, look up at the giant menu board and see, in huge font, numbers I only want to ever see in dollars (or, preferrably Euros).

800 calories for a chicken sandwich with bacon just scares me, but one expects something with bacon to be a little high.  It’s when simple salads hover around 500 calories I start to wonder if there’s any justice at all in the world.  Don’t even get me started on a 350 calorie bagel – sans spread.

But, I can’t fault them for being honest and I figured with a little planning I could find something on the menu to fill my vegan bitch stomach.  Their nutitrional information was always good on the website, but now the new site is simply incredible.  The site allowed me to add, subtract and/or substitute various components of each menu item and even designate a half sandwich or salad option.  It’s simple, but genius.

My half Mediterranean Veggie sandwich and half Greek Salad (sans feta on both) and substituting rye bread for the tomato basil bread came in at 410 calories and low fat (considering the olives and salad dressing), and a decent protein/carb balance.  I printed the page to bring with me, a handy grid serving as a reminder of exactly what I would order and proof  I had ordered what I said I ordered if anyone got it wrong in the process.  I felt so prepared and, best of all, the values for this meal were later easily plugged in in my profile.

As to lunch, I found that without the feta each offering wasn’t drastically different in taste from the original version.  I almost didn’t miss it and I definitely didn’t miss the calories.

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