As a college student, I don't have a lot of time to prepare homemade healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When I go out to eat I often find myself ordering what I believe is healthy, or my not so healthy go-to's because they're cheaper and faster. Being aware of better options is important, not just for college students, but for everyone, because it's easy to want to eat the worst thing on the menu. Being aware is the first step to a healthier lifestyle

Au Bon Pain is a café bakery that offers "meaningful, flavorful, high quality, healthy food served friendly and fast." Their classics include grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, croissants, and chocolate chip cookies. That doesn't mean the only healthy Au Bon Pain options are kale and rice cakes; they include a range of drinks, entrees, and even desserts. On many college campuses, there are cafés just a short walk from residence halls, meaning these healthier options are easily accessible. 

Whether you feel like you're turning into a cup of ramen because it's all you've eaten for the past month, or you're just looking to eat healthier, here are 15 healthy Au Bon Pain options to order next time you go.

#SpoonTip: Au Bon Pain has the nutrition information for all of its menu items listed on its website. 

1. Bon To Go Smoked Salmon 

This "make your own" sandwich includes smoked salmon, herb cream cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, pickled onions, greens, and a sprouted grain roll. This sandwich is only 210 calories and is in the pre-packaged snack section of café. It's a quick and healthier way to eat smoked salmon instead of on a bagel.  

2. Napa Chicken with Avocado Wrap 

The Napa chicken with avocado wrap is perfect for lunch, dinner, or a larger snack. It's 320 calories for a half and 500 calories for a whole. If you're looking to avoid meat, but want something similar in taste, try the garden and avocado wrap. 

3. Superfood Cranberry Almond Hot Cereal

You know how Peter Parker turned into Spiderman when he was bit by a spider? Well, maybe when you bite into this hot cereal made with two super foods (quinoa and cranberries) you'll turn into Superwoman? Even if you don't save lives, you'll save calories by choosing this 180 calorie (per 8 oz serving) option instead of your usual bowl of Lucky Charm's.

4. Vegetarian Deluxe Salad  

This vegetarian salad is 270 calories and has 13 grams of protein. It includes roasted peppers, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese. If you're looking for something a bit meatier, try the Thai Peanut Chicken Salad (220 calories) or the Chicken Caesar Asiago (180 calories). This salad is often pre-packaged and located in the Bon To Go section, so it's healthy and convenient. 

5. Bon To Go Hard-Boiled Eggs

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Caroline Alexander

Pick these up on the way to your next class for an energy boost or combine it with a soup or side salad to create a small, protein-packed meal. Two hard boiled eggs are 140 calories, and are full of vitamins and minerals.

6. 12 Veggie Soup

Although you might have grown up eating grandma's chicken noodle soup or Ma's pasta e fagioli, Au Bon Pain's 12 veggie soup is probably lower in calories and fat. It has 180 calories per 12 fl oz, is gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan. I recommended you eat this soup when you're under the weather or are feeling great—so at all times, basically.

7. Egg Whites & Cheddar on a Skinny Wheat Bagel

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start your day with this egg white cheddar cheese whole wheat skinny bagel, and have enough energy to stay focused throughout the day. The bagel itself is only 90 calories and with the cheddar cheese and egg whites it's 210 calories. You can also add avocado (360 calories), bacon (280 calories), ham (350 calories), or turkey sausage (310 calories) to the bagel for added flavor.

8. Fresh Fruit Smoothie with Mixed Fruit

This non-fat mixed fruit smoothie is 210 calories for 16 fl oz. It comes in multiple flavor combinations such as mixed fruit, bananas, pineapples, and grapes (250 calories), or banana, watermelon, and grapes (230 calories). I am OBSESSED with Coke slurpees, which contain lots of high fructose corn syrup and caffeine, whereas this smoothie is made with fresh fruit. I think I know what I'll be buying more of in the future.

9. Tropical Green Iced Tea

Goodbye sugary soda, and aloha zero-calorie, vegan green iced tea. You may not go to Au Bon Pain for their iced tea, but this tropical iced tea may change that. 

10. Swiss Chard and Three Bean Soup

The swiss chard and three bean soup is only 270 calories for a large. It's gluten-free and vegetarian, which makes it even better. Pair it with a salad or a Bon To Go snack for added nutritional value. 

11. Food Should Taste Good All Natural Multigrain Chips

This bag of multigrain chips is 210 calories with 4 grams of protein. Au Bon Pain doesn't carry salt and vinegar Lay's chips or cheddar cheese Dorito's, so already they make it easy not to waste calories on a bag of mostly air with 11 chips.

These multigrain tortilla chips are gluten-free, vegan, kosher, and non-GMO. Even better, they're a good source of fiber, cholesterol free, and are low in sodium. As someone who eats gluten-free, this is a perfect way for me to switch up my usual go-to popcorn and granola bars. 

12. Side Garden Salad with Fat-Free White Balsamic Vinaigrette

This salad and dressing are 110 calories, and if you like simple salads, this is definitely the one for you. Personally, I like fruity salads so I would go with the Harvest Turkey Salad (390 calories), but live your life however you want.

13. Garden & Avocado Wrap

Another avocado wrap? Yes, please! This one is vegetarian, and is only 130 calories for a half and 370 for a full wrap. It's a whole wheat wrap with fresh avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lots of other veggies. One bite and you'll be in wrap heaven. 

14. Berry Pomegranate Smoothie

The non-fat berry pomegranate smoothie is 270 calories per 16 fl oz serving. It's high in protein and fiber and is perfect for a hot summer day. You'll want to finish every last drop—I'm sure your co-workers or classmates will love the slurping noise you make while trying to get the very last sip out.    

15. Gluten-Free Chewy Marshmallow Bar

Even though you may go to Au Bon Pain for their baked goods or cheesy items, the chewy marshmallow bar is the healthiest option to satisfy your sweet tooth. One bar is 250 calories, and although it's a healthier dessert option it should still be enjoyed in moderation.

With many people on gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or restricted diets, it's hard to find places that offer realistic, filling menu choices. What makes it even harder is the added inconvenience of being on a restricted budget. Although choosing the cheap pre-packaged turkey sandwich or week old vending machine chips is convenient and doesn't break the bank, but those food options aren't necessarily fueling your body the right way. So take advantage of the healthy Au Bon Pain options near campus. 

With that being said though, every calorie and gram of fat is a trade-off. I am a big believer in living your own happy and healthy life so it's up to you what is the healthiest option. So be smart and conscious and listen to what your body needs.