The 2017 Review of Jenny Craig

by Valerie Kirk

The Jenny Craig diet program centers around low calorie pre-packaged cuisine. The food may be picked up at Jenny Craig locations, or you may choose to have it delivered to your door. 

Different Jenny plans include different amounts and types of counseling, either in-person, phone, or online via video chat. Dieters should understand that their counselors are not licensed dietitians or even nutritionists, but rather sales people for Jenny Craig's foods, which tend to be on the pricey side.

How Much Do Jenny Craig Meals Cost? Click Here to See the 2017 Price List.

What to Expect on JC Diet Plans...

Jenny's customers lose an average of one or two pounds each week. Most of Jenny's customers like their food's taste, if not their prices, which build up rather quickly each month.

JENNY IS GREAT, BUT WHAT IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT?

Dieters dine largely on Jenny Craig pre-packaged cuisine, which are similar to Lean Cuisihalf the cost of Jenny Craigne frozen foods available at supermarkets. This isn't surprising as until recently Jenny Craig and Lean Cuisine were owned by the same parent company (Nestle). Fruits, vegetables and dairy items are added by the dieter, purchased from the supermarket.

The good news? You’ll be eating fun foods like Beef Chow Mein, Spaghetti with Meatballs, and Turkey Burgers. Jenny members rave about the cookies n’ cream cheesecake (only 150 calories per slice). Most clients say Jenny meals are similar in taste to Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen entrées, so you might want to pick up a couple diet frozen dinners at the grocery store to test-drive the yummy factor before paying for weeks of Jenny food in advance.

Meals must be supplemented with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lowfat dairy, reflecting the federal guidelines and USDA food pyramid. Because the program doesn’t banish any food groups, sugar junkies can satisfy their sweet tooth with desserts like lemon cakes and cinnamon rolls.

In following the program everyday, members acclimate themselves to appropriate portion sizes, so theoretically at least, dieters will eventually be able to wean themselves off of Jenny's food without gaining the weight back.

JENNY IS GREAT, BUT WHAT IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT?

Jenny Craig 2017 Diet Plans

Jenny's diet memberships have changed for 2017. They no longer have a three-tiered membership program and instead only offer a Trial monthly membership or the Premium All Access membership. Each option includes weight loss consultations, weekly menu planning, activity schedule, and their online e-tools. Meals can be home delivered or clients can pick them up at a local Jenny center. Remember that membership fees don't include the cost of food which is substantial, between $520 and $700 per month, depending on what you select to eat.

ALL ACCESS PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP
The most comprehensive Jenny Craig membership available is their All Access Premium Membership. It provides unlimited weight loss coaching and support, weekly customizable menus, and an included maintenance program for when the weight loss goal has been reached.
The program begins with a personalized menu planner that features tracking for meals, workouts, and nutritional information. Dieters can create their own menu or opt for a planned menu for their specific calorie level. An average week on Jenny will have clients eating up to six times a day: three meals and snacks in between. To keep track, clients are encouraged to check-off meals as they’re consumed and to log in any other non-planned foods that were eaten.

All Access costs $19 per month, plus a one-time enrollment fee of $100 (depending on their current promotion, this fee is often times discounted upwards of 50%). Of course, don’t forget that the major cost of the program is the Jenny Craig meals and assorted snacks. You’ll also have to buy supplemental fruits, veggies, and dairy at the supermarket.

ONE-MONTH TRIAL MEMBERSHIP
For dieters who are more apprehensive about joining, Jenny Craig now offers a one-month only membership. Diet consultations are limited to once per week. Members under this plan still have access to eTools and other weight loss support materials such as the weekly personalized menus and guides.
The trial membership fee is $39 per month and there is no enrollment fee. But there is often a promotion such as "lose 17 pounds for $17," in which customers can get 12 weeks of the program, or lose 17 pounds, whichever comes first, for $17. There is sometimes an included food allowance upwards of $60. The $60 credit towards food is usually split up into 6 weeks, $10 per week, so this would take you into your second month.

JENNY CRAIG FOR TYPE 2 PLAN (for Type 2 Diabetes)

For dieters interested in weight loss while taking control of their Type 2 diabetes, Jenny Craig now offers a membership that offers specialized diabetes support. Diet consultations include help with selecting specific foods designed to maintain blood sugar levels and other weight loss advice. In addition, online tools, tracking, and personalized activity planners are available.

The cost for Jenny Craig for Type 2 doesn't include the cost of food, shipping, and supplemental grocery foods.

Does Jenny Craig work?

Dieters loyal to Jenny’s guidelines can expect to lose between 1 to 2 pounds per week. According to the most recent U.S. News & World report ranking, Jenny Craig was deemed 3rd in their "Best Weight-Loss Diet" category (tying with the Biggest Loser Diet and the Raw Food Diet).

In May 2011, Consumer Reports rated Jenny Craig the best of the six diet plans in their two year, 332 person study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study, which examined six commercial diets--Atkins, Ornish, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, the Zone Diet and Jenny Craig showed the Jenny Craig dieters in the study had the highest success rate in sticking with the diet plan, and weighed 8% less than when they had begun dieting two years earlier.

It’s important to note, however, that Jenny Craig dieters in the Consumer Reports study were not required to incur the approximately $550 per month Jenny Craig meal cost, so this naturally skewed the results in Jenny Craig's favor. After all, getting free food is a great incentive for staying on the program, but it's an incentive that the rest of us won't be getting if we try Jenny Craig!

Jenny Craig is a good program for dieters that want support. One of the company’s most notable features is its 24/7 phone line, allowing members to get information and support when they need it. To really reap long-term results, members should take advantage of the counseling support the program offers as they begin to wean themselves off of Jenny Cuisine and start to plan their own menus and home-cooked meals. Clients that already have a strong mental commitment to the lifestyle changes Jenny Craig requires are most likely to get the biggest bang for their dieting buck.    

Jenny Craig Food Cost

One factor prospective Jenny Craig clients will want to consider before signing on is the cost. Regardless of the program you choose, the biggest cost by far is Jenny's food. Average Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners can cost about $6 - $7 each and snacks are about $2 - $3 each. Members can expect to shell out between $18 and $23 a day on average for Jenny food.

Jenny Craig Shipping Costs

It's important to remember that if you choose not to pick up your foods from a local Jenny Craig center, you will incur shipping charges. Frozen food is always shipped via expedited shipping and, depending on your zip code and the day you select for delivery, can range between $58 - $160. Purchasing a minimum of 16 meals at once will often times trigger cheaper shipping rates. The shipping and handling price will vary by location.

Click here to see the 2017 price list of Jenny Craig food.

Drawbacks to Jenny Craig
Although there are plenty of Jenny devotees that adore their counselor, prospective clients should know that Jenny Craig counselors are not trained nutritionists. Jenny Craig counselors are chosen for their sales skills, as their income depends on how many products and upgraded memberships they can sway clients into purchasing. Some Jenny clients have also complained that their counseling sessions are irritatingly short. Dieters that have struggled with lifelong weight issues may need more than the brief weekly (7-15 minutes on average) check-ins to stick with their diet long term.

Other complaints from some past Jenny customers were about gaining the weight back after they left the program. While eating the smaller portions that Jenny offers will help many customers get used to eating less over time, even after stopping the program (hopefully after reaching their goal weight), other customers were unable to maintain their weight loss on their own and had to either go back on the plan (and thus continue paying the fees and for the pricey foods) or opt for searching for another weight loss plan that is either cheaper, or for them, has better long-term results. Look, we all know how hard it is to get slim and stay there. Like all legitimate weight loss programs, Jenny will work for some, and not for others.

Another Jenny Craig disadvantage? Dining exclusively on pre-packaged meals can be difficult. If you’re a social butterfly or just love dining out, eating nothing but Jenny Cuisine can feel like a prison sentence. Some dieters have also complained about the quality of the food decreasing over time.

Jenny Craig Menu Updates for 2017

With each new year comes an updated Jenny menu of available meals and snacks. Some Jenny dieters were disappointed to see that some of their favorites from 2016 didn't make the 2017 cut, but hopefully they'll like the new items being offered.

Read below to discover which foods are new to the party in 2017 and which have gotten the boot:

Breakfast

What's New in 2017:

  • Country Sausage Gravy Scramble: $5.99
  • Florentine Breakfast Pizzas: $5.99
  • Garden Vegetable Frittata: $5.69

Lunch & Dinner

What's Gone in 2017:

  • Baja-Style Chicken Quesadilla: $5.99
  • Chicken Burrito: $5.99
  • Herbed Chicken & Mushroom Sauce: $6.99
  • Lemon Garlic Shrimp: $6.99
  • Roasted Vegetable Lasagna: $6.69
  • Southwest Style Chicken Salad Topper: $6.69
  • White Fish & Mushroom Risotto: $6.99

What's New in 2017:

  • Butternut Squash Ravioli: $6.79
  • Chicken Cranberry Salad Kit: $4.99
  • Chicken Street Tacos: $6.89
  • Chicken Wrap with BBQ Sauce: $5.99
  • Fiesta Chicken & Rice: $5.99
  • Hearty Beef & Potatoes: $5.99
  • Orange Chicken with Vegetables & Brown Rice: $6.99
  • Romano Pasta with Chicken: $5.99
  • Szechuan Shrimp: $6.99

Snacks/Desserts & Other Items:

What's Gone in 2017:

  • Zesty Tortellini Soup: $4.99
  • Red Velvet Cupcake: $2.99
  • Tomato Florentine Soupitizer Soup: $2.99
  • Veg Minestrone Soupitizer Soup: $2.99

What's New in 2017:

  • Cookies & Cream Cake: $3.09
  • Iced Oatmeal Cookie: $2.29

The Bottom Line

The food offers a decent variety, with around 100 choices in total, and the nutritional approach is sound. The taste isn’t bad either, if you don’t mind pre-packaged foods. Another plus is that there are no points, carb counting, or banned foods on Jenny. But the high cost of the food should be considered before committing to the diet. Remember to keep in mind that you will also have to pay your supermarket for the required fruit, veggies, and dairy. There can be hidden fees that rack up over time such as shipping and membership charges. The dieting consultations are a helpful component for some, and Jenny’s additional online resources give the program a reasonable shot at working for many people.

At a glance: Is Jenny Craig right for you?

Yes, if:

  • You crave guidance and support.
  • You’re busy or just hate to cook.
  • You like discussing your weight loss goals with someone.
  • You’re single or don’t have a family to cook for.
  • You need daily treats like cookies or pretzels to keep from falling off the dieting bandwagon.

No, if:

  • You simply can’t afford it money-wise.
  • You want to dine out frequently (although that will make it hard to lose weight on any program.
  • You have trouble talking about your weight with another person.
  • You don't like having to figure out what to eat a week or month in advance.
  • You get bored easily eating the same foods over and over.
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