Yesterday, I received an email from a women who told me that she liked many aspects of this diet, but she was trying to do better on the price. Specifically, she wanted to know "is there any diets that are as good as NutriSystem with as many good food choices that are cheaper or cost less?" I'll tell you how I responded to this question in the following article.
Diets Comparable To NutriSystem: Many people do not realize it, but NutriSystem combines a lot of the attributes of many popular diets. It's low in calories (like weight watchers.) It's low in carbs (like Atkins and South Beach.) It's high in protein and fiber (like the Mediterranean.) So, while you could compare this diet to many others, very few have all of these attributes at once and very few offer so many food choices. (There are over 170 food choices with a lot of snacks and comfort foods.) For example, you get a low amount of carbs on Atkins, but you have to eat meat and eggs all of the time and you're rarely allowed sweets and Cereals (which you get on this one.) You get a low amount of calories on weight watchers, but you have to count them and many of the foods have too much carbs or sugar to successfully put your body in ketosis (rapid fat burning mode .)
If you wanted a diet similar to this one, you'd have low calories, low carbs, high protein, high fiber, and healthy fresh foods. Now, you could educate yourself on how to prepare these foods, but you would have to plan for, buy, and then prepare the groceries. I actually doubt that this would cost you less than the prepackaged diet and it would be a lot more work. Let's take a closer look at this.
The True Cost Of NutriSystem: OK, if you're going for the basic women's plan (where you eat five times per day), the base price of this is around $ 300. But, there are always specials and coupons running. Usually, you'll either get 2 – 3 weeks for free or as much as $ 100 off (if you're willing to try auto ship.) This brings the cost down to about $ 8 or so per day. If you're figuring out the cost per meal, this is around $ 1.60 each, which is quite good, in my opinion.
Now, the new Flex Plan (where you take weekends off) is even cheaper than that – $ 100 cheaper to be exact. But, you're getting less food and you still have to cover your weekend meals. So, although there is a perception that this one works out to be cheaper, I believe that when you figure out the cost of groceries, you're really in the same ball park. However, many people like having two days off, which has nothing to do with cost. (And you can use the same coupons with this plan too.)
So, Is There Any Decent Alternative ?: I think the answer to this really depends on your criteria in what it considered "good." If you're willing to educate yourself and have the power and the drive to prepare your own meals and buy well in advance and in bulk, you may well be successful and save a bit of money. But, I truly believe that when you consider gas, groceries, and the cost of what your time is worth, NutriSystem is actually quite cost effective and convenient, but this is going to be individual for everyone. Not many diets let you eat chocolate cake and tacos for $ 1.60 or so per meal.