Packaged Meals and Clinics - Nutrisystem, Medifast, Jenny Craig, Etc - Newbie considering Jenny Craig or NS - have questions

03-02-2007, 02:13 PM
Hi all - my name is Cathy. I've been lurking here for a while and reading your wonderful & informative posts, but finally registered today because I'm getting ready to start either NutriSystem or Jenny Craig. I've searched the forums and read everything I can that compares the two, but I still have a couple of questions I'm hoping you good people can help me with.

JENNY CRAIG: I'm leaning towards JC mainly because the consensus seems to be that the food is much tastier than NS. And anything that will help keep me on any plan, including tastier (or at least less disgusting) food will surely help.

First question is, I wonder if some of you can give me at least a rough idea of price ranges for the program itself. I know there's something right now "6 weeks for $36" but what are other pricing plans? And if I do the 6/36, what will I have to pay thereafter for the program?

Secondly, can someone give me a rough idea of meal pricing? I know the shelf-stable items are cheaper than the frozen foods and that choosing more shelf-stable items is a way to reduce food costs, but I have no idea even what range of prices to expect.

I realize I can go to a center and ask all these pricing-related questions, but I'd love to have at least a vague idea of a range of pricing to expect before I get in there and get a high-pressure sales pitch! :) If it's a dollar figure that's completely out of the realm of possibility for me, I can save myself the grief of dealing with that in the first place.

Finally, I know you have to supplement with grocery store items, but is it possible to do with canned/frozen veggies & bagged salads? I literally have NO prep time available to me to deal with anything more involved. And on fruit, can I meet any fruit requirement with juices, applesauce or even fruit baby food? I'm one of those weird people who HATE almost all fruit (except the occasional banana)... it's a texture thing with me. Fruit literally gags me.

NUTRISYSTEM: I know NS is cheaper than JC because you're not having to pay for storefront overhead or the counseling time. And that the food is cheaper... but also less tasty. I've even heard some people say most of the food is downright gross.

So, first of all, is the food really that bad? Or are the cost savings compared to JC good enough that I'd be able to handle the difference in quality?

Secondly, same supplementation question as above re: veggies & fruits.

And finally, and this is a strange question... is "NutriSystem" printed all over the outside of the shipping box in huge letters? I would have to receive shipments either at work, where items are delivered to me from a central mailroom and all my coworkers would see the big box; or at home where it would be delivered in my absence to my apartments' leasing office, where again, the apartment office staff would see this box. While I don't mind those closest to me knowing I'm "dieting," the specifics of that are not something I want everyone else to know.

Thanks in advance to anyone and everyone who can provide me with any input on the above questions. I'm looking forward to either going to a JC center or ordering NS early next week.

03-05-2007, 02:17 PM

I'll try and answer a few questions for you:

~Some people think NS food is gross, some think it is great-and the same goes with Jenny Craig. Some people love pickles and mustard with a passion, and honestly, I can't stand either one of them. Taste is a VERY personal thing. From what I have read on the forums/message boards on both of their websites-members try the different foods, and everyone has their own "likes and dislikes".

If you would like to "try before you buy" I would suggest doing the following:

~Go to the Jenny Craig website, and order their sampler package in their store/shopping section. It has a small sampling of a couple of their meals and snack items for you to try before you commit to a contract at their center.

~Go on eBay, and check out their auctions for Nutrisystem items. There are a lot of people who stop doing the plan, and sell small lots of their remainding food. Get a small lot of items to try-it is much better to get a lot of 5-10 items for $20-$30 and see if you like it, then it would be to order a month's worth of food, and find out if you don't.


I hope that helps you out some on the "taste" part of it.

03-05-2007, 02:25 PM
I used Jenny-Craig meals about 5-6 years ago...I was spending roughly about $85.-$100. per week. after a few visits and weigh-ins, I found it much cheaper to duplicate the items at the grocery store with Lean Cusienes and Smart-Ones. (save their sample menus and some of the boxes of frozen entrees they give out every week for comparison).

JC is very hard sell in my area, but you are paying for the "counseling" not the counselor's commission. Don't be afraid to say you can substitute your own items and still come there for counseling and weigh-in every week. They tend to get ruffled and may try to make you feel like you won't succeed unless you eat THEIR food versions.

good luck!

03-05-2007, 02:26 PM
Good luck choosing, I found JC hard to do for myself.

03-05-2007, 02:35 PM
I lost nearly half of myself on JC. Here's some info:

Yes, most people consider JC food much tastier than NS. If you can tolerate Lean Cuisine type meals, then you'll be fine with JC. EVERYONE has individual items they love and hate, which varies from person to person. My faves will be someone else's nightmare, and vice versa. Still, unless they are just childishly weirdly picky, most people find enough variety and pleasure from the JC foods to suit just fine.

Yes, you have to supplement with grocery foods, but any type of vegetables and fruit will do. Canned, frozen, or fresh all fit the bill. Even juices are OK, you just get a lot less fruit juice than you would get with a whole piece of fruit.

As for cost, the membership offer you see now is considered a trial membership. They rotate promotions throughout the year to vary the time period. The other memberships are full memberships which have specified time periods (such as a year or 3 years) and where you earn discounts on the food based on previous purchases. When you go in they will try to sell you the full memberships instead of the trial, but just stick with your guns if the trial is all you want. You can always upgrade later if you decide to stay. As for food costs, you can count on an AVERAGE of about $12/day if you do the full recommended plan. That includes a snack item in addition to the three entrees. The first few weeks, the default choice is a pre-determined menu which includes vitamin/mineral supplements as well as salad dressings. I recommend doing the pre-planned plan at first, just to give you an opportunity to try everything and remove some of the stress about making choices as you learn the ropes. You can tell them you don't want the supplements if you'd like.

If you are on the program long-term, once you get to halfway to your goal you will start doing one or two days on your own. If you buy the plan that includes the maintenance phase, you will go through a further gradual weaning. Before the halfway point, however, you can do meals on your own at any time. A lot of people save money on food costs by doing all breakfasts on their own, or the like. Keep in mind that the company makes their profit -- and the consultants get commissions -- on the food sales. I have heard of some centers being reluctant to deal with customers who don't buy full meal plans every week. I will say, though, that MY center has never been less than 110% supportive of any purchases (or lack thereof) that I made.

03-05-2007, 03:30 PM
Thanks everyone for the info thus far. Any further input still appreciated!

I have a couple of friends who did LA Weight Loss and told me horror stories about the hard-sell approach they got, and that's what I remember from MANY years ago when I did a run at NutriSystem when they had in-person centers.

03-05-2007, 04:12 PM
Whether or not you get the hard sell is going to depend on your individual center and even the individual consultant. Just because you get a hard sell, though, doesn't mean you have to cave in. They can't "make" you buy anything, and if they try, it is against JC corporate policy.

If you want more in-depth, current info on JC, visit those forums at They are very very active and you'll get more detailed info than you know what to do with.

03-05-2007, 04:39 PM
The online NS system is MUCH better than the old in office system-their food, support, everything has improved. There is no hard selling-you either order online, or you don't. You can speak to a counselor any time, day or night, via their website.

Oh, also, the food does not have Nutrisystem all over the big box. On the packing label (they usually go UPS) it has Nutrisystem in the return name/address field, but it is normal sized, etc. If you received this package at your office, it would take you like 1 second to swipe over that with a black Sharpie if you didn't want the whole office to get in your business. :lol:

03-05-2007, 06:22 PM
I'm with you on the big box :lol:

03-06-2007, 04:17 PM
First Post!

I have done both of these programs over the years. I used to LOVE nutri system years ago. If I ever gained a few pounds, I could always manage to knock them off quickly with Nutri System. So aftering having my daugher 10 years ago, I went back, but found that I had to order online as there are no centers anymore. The food was not as good as it had been, so I signed up for Jenny and did the delivery with them and found their food a little better.

Well, fast forward and over the past few years my weight has creeped way up so I decided to go with Nutri System again because the cost was a little cheaper. The food was so bad, I could not eat it all! I threw a lot of it out. And I am really not a picky eater or I would not be in the condition of needing to lose weight!! Finding something that I liked was the exception and not the norm.

SO, I drove for almost two hours and joined Jenny at a center because I seem to do better when I am held accountable to a person, face to face. WOW! The food was so much better than Nutri System, and better than the Jenny shelf food they had delivered to me years before. The cost was a bit more, but if you are going to spend the money, you might as well get something you can eat! I admit, I did quit after a few weeks because of the drive. Now I wish I had stuck with it, but wonder if they deliver the frozen food like some other delivery programs.

I always call someone on the phone to get the information I need about program costs because you can always say you need to think about it and it is easier for me to not commit to something I don't want to if I am on the phone. Then you can think about it before you sign up for something you are unsure of.

One other comment - as for being able to duplicate the program by going to the grocery store - I don't know where you live, but where I shop has the same old frozen food meals all the time. Even though there are a few that I love, I can't eat them over and over. What I really wish is that Jenny Craig would decide to release her food to the public!!

03-14-2007, 01:56 PM
I have to add this note. I called yesterday and found out that they DO deliver the frozen foods now with Jenny - SOOO I am expecting a package on Friday! I am really excited about this!!!!!!! I took the six-week trial membership and ordered one month of food. You get two weeks and then they send the rest in a week, I believe. I am sure they will charge me for it all up front though. It was a total of $584 for the month of food and the trial membership fee. Hope this info is helpful!

03-15-2007, 02:49 PM
Hi Cathy:

I lost 50 pounds on NS - then I went back to my old habits (actually worse than my old habits) and gained it back. The food was not the best. I know they have actually revamped their menu recently and it is getting better reviews. However, I wasn't on their food for gourmet - I was there to lose weight and it worked!

This time I tried Jenny Craig because the food is supposed to be better. I only eat the frozen not the "boxed" lunch/dinners. I tried one of them and they are pretty close to the NS food. The frozen foods taste better. However, I realize everyone has different metabolism or food issues, but I must say I am losing minimally on JC. The food is more potato/white flour type food whereas Nutrisystem was more the glycemic index. Obviously my body doesn't respond to eating the higher carb more processed JC food. As far as cost, JC is substantially more. If you sign up for autoship at NS you get a discount on your first order (plus the free week) and free shipping. Since you can cancel the autoship immediately there is no risk in doing that to get the discount. Also you can go to their website forum and find people posting $30 coupons for newcomers. After you have been on it awhile the discount deepens. There is also no charge for consulting. I was paying substantially less than the $10 a day with more discounts (can't remember if I was getting 20% discount or what by the time I was through).

JC got me in the door for the $36 but they talked me into signing up for a regular membership to get the 10% discount on the food. I strongly recommend you resist the strongarm tactics and only sign up for minimal if you decide to go there. See how it works for you. The food ranges from $90 to $120 a week depending on what you order. For example,the salmon dinner is $7 by itself. You can also have the food delivered to your house but the shipping costs are really high if you get frozen food, plus you still have to pay for the counseling.

As far as following the diets and not using their food, Nutrisystem has a book you can usually find used for $4. There is also a person who posts on their forum under NSOnMyOwn who lists foods she fixes every day to follow the diet w/o buying their food. Most are quick and easy to fix.

The biggest attraction for both are the portion control and convenience. If you can control portions then you may be able to create a similar diet on your own with Lean Cuisine/healthy choice dinners, supplemented with vegetables and dairy etc.

I have a weigh-in today at JC - if no substantial weight loss I am moving back to "on my own" or else ordering NS again.

Good luck to you in whichever you decide.


03-15-2007, 02:54 PM
Oh yeah the box was a plain brown shipping box (big big box!) with just a standard white UPS or Fedex label (they used both companies for shipping). It didn't have embarassing stuff on it. I never ordered JC by mail so not sure what they look like, but I would guess they would know this is a sensitive topic and be careul about it also.


03-18-2007, 10:06 PM
I am currently doing Diet-to-Go and i love it! It is fresh frozen food, (vacuum packed) almost like restaurant food. they have a variety of plans (vegetarian, low fat, low carb) and different calorie counts as well. and they ship everything, even the fruit. basically, you get the complete meal and don't have to buy anything extra, though they do recommend drinking 2 glasses of skim milk a day (which you provide). They only send things you can freeze though, so if you don't live in the same town as their center, then you obviously don't get things like salads since it takes about 2-4 days shipping.

they send it packed in a Styrofoam container packed with dry ice. You can request a sample pack also.

anyway, you may want to look into it for yourself at

04-15-2007, 03:47 AM
Hi cathy,
I can't answer any of your questions about Jenny Craig but I did try about a week's worth of nutrisystem meals and found them to be very bland. for alot less money and better taste I would personally go for the weight watchers or lean cuisine meals instead. Of course with Jenny Craig I can see the advantage because of the counseling. I have thought of joining but with having a family to cook for also it just isn't in my budget.