Well, last week I rashly promised that I would be writing about Auntie's Nutrisystems Challenge
this week. I was an idiot to say that, but say it I did, and I've actually done the work needed to tell you how Nutrisystems® stacks up, both financially and diet-wise.
If you go to Nutrisystems'® website, you can't really obtain any decent information. I selected their "NutriSystem® Nourish Women's Program," the details of which are basically nonexistent. The gist is that you "select your foods online (or on the phone) and they arrive on your doorstep." The website does provide a listing of the foods from which you can select, like a Chinese menu - one from column A, one from column B - but all it lists is the name of the meal or snack - for example, "Blueberry Bran Muffin," or "Teriyaki Sauce and Beef with Rice." The listing doesn?t tell you calorie counts, weight of the dish/portion or detail other micronutrient information. The current emphasis of the program is eating "low glycemic index" foods as opposed to "high glycemic index foods," which is the newest dieting fad to reach North American shores.If you?re not au fait with glycemic index foods, it's a rating of how rapidly carbohydrates break down in your system. "Low" glycemic index foods (think "good carbs") break down slowly and encourage stable blood sugar levels; "High" glycemic index foods (think "bad carbs") break down rapidly, cause your insulin levels to spike and purportedly, according to NutriSystems®, "cause your body to store fat while also leaving you hungry soon after a meal." This isn?t really hard to grasp. It's the difference between eating oatmeal for breakfast or pounding a doughnut.
Apparently, you select all three meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner - as well as one dessert and one snack for every day in the month for 28 days (4 weeks). Notably, the desserts and snacks are lumped together in the same category, and are split about 50/50 between savories (salty) and sweets. The lunch and dinner entrees and meals seem, from their names, to be pretty typical frozen meals - Pasta Parmesan with Broccoli, Fettucini Alfredo with Vegetables and Mushrooms, Vegetable Lasagna with Basil Tomato Sauce, as examples. The breakfast foods range from frozen "meals" like "Scrambled Eggs - Smoke Flavor" to your basic granola bar ("Apple Granola Bar"). The desserts and snacks are also not exotic; everything from Almond Biscotti to Sour Cream and Onion Soy Chips. I did note that Soy Chips are predominantly featured among the savory snacks, along with pretzels, both regular and soy versions. If you sign up for "auto-delivery," a process by which you are basically agreeing to continue to buy their food, month after month, it costs about $10.00 per day - $289.46 per 28-day month on the auto-delivery plan, or $321.62 plus $16.00 for shipping on the one-month (4 weeks) only plan. Anyway - on to Auntie's NutriSystems® Challenge. Can you match this at home?
I selected one week's worth of food from the menu choices, as randomly as I could manage. 7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners, along with all of the desserts and snacks. I went searching for suitable substitutes that you could easily purchase at the grocery store. Given that I only had the meals' names, I had to do some guessing, but I think I came pretty close. As an example, I substituted Healthy Choice Chicken Broccoli Alfredo for NutriSystems'® Fettucini Alfredo with Vegetables and Mushrooms; I substituted Campbell's Soup at Hand Creamy Broccoli Instant Soup for NutriSystems'® Cream of Broccoli Soup (a lunch selection). Every dish I chose as an alternative was simply heat and eat or unwrap and eat (like granola bars), so that the "work" was equivalent - no cooking or preparation whatsoever. I entered the price for each meal, entrée or snack, adjusted for a single serving size portion in the case of multiple-serving products (like cookies or granola bars), and then entered all of the calorie counts, as well as grams of fat, carbohydrates, etc. I then simply averaged the prices, assuming one type of meal per day, and then totaled the resulting averages.
What's the result?
Here's the bottom line: you can replicate the NutriSystems'® plan, with 3 meals a day plus snack plus dessert, for $6.84 per day, averaging 825.71 calories per day. A Hobbit
could lose weight on 826 calories a day, and you
could save $3.16 every single day, or roughly $100.00 per month, on the "do it yourself" plan. To see the meals, snacks and desserts that I picked, their prices and calories counts, etc., see the tables below, broken out by type of meal - the daily average totals are on the very last table at the bottom. Sorry that the tables are smallish, but bigger ones wouldn't fit here on Auntie's Blog; if you click on each table, a much larger, easily readable table will open in your browser window.
Do you want to try it yourself? It's simple. Just visit NutriSystems?® website, select the monthly plan that best suits you (they have plans for diabetics, men, women over 60, vegetarian diets, etc.), and select 7 days' worth of meals from their menu selections. Print out their webpage, so you don't have to write everything down - just use checkmarks or highlighter. Surf the Icebox Diner and/or your local on-line grocery, and find comparable meals - or use the random plan I made up. (If you use the Diner, you can also check for reviews from over 1,000 other folks!). Make up your grocery list, buy only what's on the list (along with some fruit, please!), and eat from your new meal plan. Splurge that $100.00 you save at the end of the month by getting yourself something special
. So, see you next week! Send email to Auntie with story ideas or product requests!
(Click through to the blog, below, to see the tables!!)