Jenny Craig vs Nutrisystem in 2018
by Valerie Kirk
Are you food finicky, or can you eat like a goat? And how much money are you willing to spend? How you answer these 2 questions will help you decide which Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig plan (if either) is right for you.
Keep in mind that the average weight loss for both of these programs is one to two pounds per week. So the key question becomes: "How long will I be able to eat the food without quitting or killing myself?"
How Tough are your Taste Buds?
The food on the basic Nutrisystem plan has been likened by many to combat rations or astronaut food. If you aren't as tough as Clint Eastwood in an old Western, you probably won't be able to eat the food on the lower end Nutrisystem plans very long.
So if you're even a slightly picky eater, your choices are really narrowed to Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem's highest-end plan called Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours. We'll cover the cheaper Nutrisystem Basic plan (for you tough guys and gals) in a moment, but let's start by comparing the better tasting, more realistically liveable options: Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours and Jenny Craig.
Jenny Craig versus Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours: The Prices
Jenny is the more expensive of the two programs, running between between $540 and $725 per month. Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours will cost you between $530 and $590, but you can get it for substantially less ($344 - $384 per month) if you'll commit to "auto-delivery," meaning that the food will keep coming until you cancel it (and cancelling is hard to do without significant extra charges). Keep in mind that none of the above prices include veggies, fruit, and dairy that both Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem require you to buy in your supermarket.
related: HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT WITH SUPERMARKET FROZEN MEALS
This affordable dietitian-designed program is a much cheaper alternative to Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig. You'll eat specially-chosen frozen meals from many popular brands that you'll buy in your supermarket. BUT they don't offer phone support. It's self-service using their online Daily Food Journal where you click on foods from their dietitians' approved lists...
Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours vs. Jenny Craig: The Food
The big difference between Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours and Jenny Craig, is that on Jenny you'll be eating mostly frozen meals which most people find better tasting than the "shelf-stable" (no refrigeration necessary) meals offered on all Nutrisystem plans, including on Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours. But the Uniquely Yours plan is unique among Nutrisystem plans, in that it also offers frozen meals on its menu, though you're limited to one per day (24 frozen meals in each 4 week period, since one day per week you are instructed to eat your own foods).
For the other meals on Uniquely Yours, it's back to "Rambo time" (meatloaf that needs no refrigeration), the same meals eaten by the Nutrisystem Basic Plan members.
Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours is a possible compromise solution for some. It is cheaper than Jenny Craig, though more costly than other Nutrisystem plans. Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours costs $529.22 per month, but you can get it for $343.99 per month if you order it with the "Auto-Delivery" option, which automatically renews every month.
If you're wondering why there's such a big price discount for all the Nutrisystem plans when you select "Auto-Delivery," it's because Nutrisystem wants you to select this option. When you're on Auto-Delivery, it's really easy to get stuck with an extra month's charge, even if you decide to cancel. Be very careful to read the fine print if you select Auto-Delivery for any of the Nutrisystem plans. There's nothing illegal going on here, they've just made it somewhat complicated to cancel without incurring major penalties.
Jenny Craig's Food
Many Jenny dieters compare their food's taste to the taste of Lean Cuisine, which might not be a coincidence, as until 2014 Jenny and Lean Cuisine were owned by the same company.
Jenny Craig offers a bigger selection of frozen meals than Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours, though when you add in the shelf-stable meals as well, Nutrisystem has a wider total variety of food choices.
The Cheapest Option!
If your taste buds are marine tough, and you can realistically stick to a program with food that most people couldn't eat for more than one day without considering suicide, then you can opt for the cheapest Nutrisystem program (Nutrisystem Basic) which runs $278.99 for women, with auto-delivery.
If you want to buy Nutrisystem Basic without the potentially expensive headaches of auto-delivery commitments, then you must pay an additional $150.23, for a total of $429.22 for the 4 weeks of food.
Men's plans include an extra snack each day, and cost about $60 more per 4 week period.
Comparing the Costs of All Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem Plans
Comparing the prices of Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem is complicated by the fact that Nutrisystem offers many plans (all of which include the food) and Jenny sells their food a la carte.
Related Article: Jenny Craig Complete Food Menu Price List for 2018
Related Article: 2018 Nutrisystem Prices for all Plans in Detail
Potential Jenny Craig clients should expect to pay between $130 and $180 a week while dining on Jenny food. Nutrisystem runs as low as $80 per week for their cheapest basic plan (shelf-stable food only, no frozen meals allowed).
Remember, "shelf-stable" means no refrigeration necessary, so you can store these meals in the cupboard. But also remember that most people find these shelf-stable foods to be tougher on the taste buds than frozen meals. A lot tougher. You can't be a "snowflake" and eat this food.
Jenny Craig's cheapest plan is called "12 Week Trial Rapid Results"
The "12 Week Trial" lasts 12 weeks and costs $16. What, only $16 you say?! Yes, this seems cheap, BUT REMEMBER, it doesn’t include food or shipping and handling charges. You buy the food separately. An average entree on Jenny Craig can cost about $6.99- $7.25. Therefore, a week of just Jenny breakfasts, lunches, and dinners would set you back at around $140. But, let's not forget to factor in the daily Jenny snacks and necessary grocery items (veggies, fruit) which will increase the costs significantly.
Jenny's next plan is called the "Premium 12-Month Rapid Results"
The "All Access Premium Membership" goes for $19/month, plus an initial $100 enrollment fee. There are sometimes discounts and promotions available that could save you money on these fees. Sometimes the initial enrollment fee is cut in half during a promotion. But again, this doesn't include the cost the Jenny Craig food.
On any Jenny plan, you'll quickly figure out that the major cost of Jenny Craig are not their plan prices but their food prices! Perhaps the exclamation point is unfair, as Jenny's food prices are significantly less than some of their high-end competitors such as Bistro MD. Like Nutrisystem's premium "Uniquely Yours" plans, Jenny offers both shelf-stable (non-refrigerated) and frozen foods.
Jenny Craig allows members to pick up their food at their local center or opt to have it shipped to their home for an additional charge. Shipping and handling can be dependent on various factors, such as locale and time frame, but can be as low as $29.
The biggest difference between the Jenny "12 Week Trial" and the Jenny 12-Month Premium" plans (besides the price tag) is the access to private diet consultations. The "Trial" plan offers only 1 phone or online meeting with a Jenny consultant, whereas the "Premium" program gives you unlimited, in-person consultations (if you live close enough to a Jenny office to take advantage of this). Keep in mind that the Jenny "consultant" is not a nutritionist, but mostly a food salesperson for the Jenny products.
Nutrisystem's cheapest plan is called the "Basic Plan."
The Nutrisystem "Basic" plan has a monthly fee of $429.22 without auto-delivery. If you choose to sign up for their auto-delivery option, it drops the price to $278.99. This plan is a shipment of 28 days worth of shelf-stable food (no refrigeration necessary) which is chosen for you, which means that you let Nutrisystem pick your meals instead of giving that job to your taste buds (believe me, your taste buds would have picked the frozen meals). Shelf-stable food is very convenient, as it doesn't require space in your freezer. The downside of shelf-stable food is that generally it doesn't taste anywhere near as good as fresh/frozen meals. And that's an understatement. You may find that when it comes to shelf-stable food, you'd get more enjoyment from eating the shelf itself.
The second option from Nutrisystem is called "Core" which is the same as the "Basic" plan, except it lets you choose your favorite shelf-stable menu items instead of just having Nutrisystem send you whatever it feels like. This plan costs $19.99 more than the "Basic."
The most expensive option from Nutrisystem is called "Uniquely Yours."
The Nutrisystem "Uniquely Yours" plan costs $529.22 per month without auto-delivery and $344.99 with auto-delivery. This is the only plan that includes your choice of shelf-stable food AND Nutrisystem's better tasting frozen meals (6 per week). Be warned, if you cancel your auto-delivery on any of these plans after 2 weeks, you'll be charged hefty fees.
While on Nutrisystem, dieters are required to cook lunch and dinner for themselves once per week. So grocery shopping is required not only for fruits, veggies, and dairy, but also for low-calorie recipe ingredients.
One benefit of Nutrisystem is that there’s no initial joining fee or ongoing membership fees. However, this means that for other than the most expensive plans, one-on-one diet support is not offered. Instead, weight loss tools, articles, and other resources are available via online and mobile apps. For some people, though, the counseling is not important, especially since the counselors are not dietitians or even nutritionists, but Nutrisystem staff whose biggest job is to keep you from dropping out of the program.
When it comes to the programs’ prepackaged food, both Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem have similar menu items. Most people say that the frozen options taste a lot better, but are obviously more expensive. Jenny Craig's frozen entrées tend to be about $6.99 each. For Nutrisystem, you must be enrolled in the premium plan - Nutrisystem "Uniquely Yours" - to be allowed to select frozen meals in addition to the shelf-stable options.
Jenny Craig recently combined their Lunch and Dinner menus to allow dieters a wider variety of meals. But Nutrisystem still has Jenny beat when it comes to variety. Nutrisystem has about 155 menu items now available (most are of the shelf-stable type), whereas Jenny has around 90.
As for nutrition, both companies have tried to keep the calories and sodium content low. For example, the Nutrisystem Ravioli Formaggio and the Jenny Craig Chicken Fettucine, both clock in under 300 calories. However, Nutrisystem's sodium levels tend to be a little higher on average.
Comparing the Support
Another component to consider when choosing between the two is the amount of support you’re looking for. Jenny Craig memberships include private consultations with one-on-one meal planning and a toll free number available 24 hours a day. Nutrisystem provides basic online tools that include a food diary and weight log, and recently they added a mobile app called NuMi.com, but dieters craving face-to-face sessions and more specific guidance will fare better on Jenny Craig.
Which diet is most effective?
Because both Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig take a calorie-controlled approach to weight loss, your results will be similar on either plan. If you consume a similar number of calories each day, it doesn’t matter whether those calories are coming from Jenny Craig lasagna or Nutrisystem lasagna.
The most effective diet for you is the one you’re able to stick with most easily, taste-wise, convenience-wise, emotionally, and financially. Your success on Jenny or Nutrisystem—or any diet—boils down to which diet is the most compatible with your personality, tastes, and budget.
The bottom line...
Jenny Craig is more expensive than Nutrisystem, but some members view the support the program offers as a worthwhile tradeoff. With both diets, prepackaged food is the nucleus of the program.
Most members consider the frozen meals to be the best tasting meals by a large margin for both companies. Keep this in mind before jumping into Nutrisystem's cheaper plans, which are 100% shelf stable, and therefore, not as tasty.
Remember, If you can't stomach the thought of what you will be eating for dinner tonight, you're on the wrong diet plan! And you won't stay on it for long.