Jenny Craig vs Nutrisystem
by Valerie Kirk
Jenny Craig tastes better. Nutrisystem is cheaper. But with Nutrisystem now adding a greater selection of frozen meals to its high-end "Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours" plan, the decision is no longer as simple as money versus taste.
Comparing the costs
Potential Jenny Craig clients should expect to pay between $125 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).
"Jenny Craig Anywhere" is a month-by-month program that costs $39/month. This may seem pretty inexpensive, but remember: it doesn’t include food or shipping and handling charges. An average entree on Jenny Craig can cost about $6-$7. Therefore, a week of just Jenny breakfasts, lunches, and dinners would put you back at least $125. But, let's not forget to factor in the daily snacks and grocery items, which will increase the costs significantly.
Jenny's next plan is called the "All Access Premium Membership"
The "All Access Premium Membership" goes for $19/month, plus a $100 enrollment fee. There are sometimes discounts and promotions available that could save you money on these fees.
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 two plans (besides the price tag, of course) is the access to private diet consultations. The basic, month-to-month plan offers only 1 phone or online meeting with a Jenny consultant, whereas the "All Access" program gives you unlimited, in-person consultations.
Nutrisystem's cheapest plan is called the "Basic Plan."
The Nutrisystem "Basic" plan has a monthly fee of $423.06 without auto-delivery. If you choose to sign up for their auto-delivery option, it drops the price to $274.99. 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.
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 $515.37 per month without auto-delivery and $274.99 with auto-delivery. This is the only plan that includes your choice of frozen and shelf-stable food. Be warned, if you cancel your auto-delivery on any of these plans after 2 weeks, you'll be charged 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 joining fee or ongoing membership fees. However, this means that one-on-one diet support is not offered. Instead, weight loss tools, articles, and other resources are available via online and mobile apps.
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 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 150 menu items now available (most are of the shelf-stable type), whereas Jenny has only 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 Cheese Ravioli, both clock in under 300 calories. However, Nutrisystem's sodium levels tend to be a little higher.
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. If you can't stomach the thought of what you will be eating for dinner tonight, you're on the wrong diet plan, but you won't stay on it long.
related article: HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT with SUPERMARKET FROZEN MEALS