• 1st place: Smart Ones
• 2nd place: Jenny Craig
• 3rd place: Nutrisystem
Would our chefs agree? We had a hard time getting them to rank their favorites, because they're so used to fresh foods and fine dining, but once they did, here's how it turned out:
Chef Taster Favorites:
• 1st place: Jenny Craig
• 2nd place: Smart Ones
• 3rd place: Nutrisystem
How fitting: the starving students liked the least expensive grocery store brand. The famous chefs preferred the most expensive membership plan.
Keep in mind, we're talking about diet foods -- not gourmet meals -- so all of the companies are working with a limited flavor palette to keep the meals low-cal and convenient.
And, remember, this was an informal tasting -- just the opinions of six people -- professional chefs and star students -- but amateur tasters.
When we told the companies about our challenge, Jenny Craig and Smart Ones said they were "pleased" and "delighted." To read Jenny Craig's full statement, click here. For the complete Smart Ones statement, click here.
Nutrisystem said in a statement: "'GMA's' testing is unscientific and should not be relied upon by anyone as representative of how consumers will think one product tastes compared to another one....our foods are a balance of nutritional value, affordability, convenience and results."
Nutrisystem adds that in a survey, "8 out of 10 Nutrisystem customers said they 'love the food." To read Nutrisystem's full statement click here.
In addition to taste, another important factor is price. We asked all three companies for the average price range of 28 days worth of their food, three meals a day. While it is possible you will pay more for these diet foods, these are the prices reported by the companies, based on the plans consumers most often choose. Some of the diet plans suggest you supplement their meals with fresh produce and dairy and those costs are not included here. Shipping is included, where applicable.
Keep in mind, Weight Watchers charges a separate fee and does not require members to eat Smart Ones foods, but we wanted to include a grocery store brand that is easily accessible in our tasting. Nutrisystem's price includes online tools like chats with dietitians, meal planners, body mass assessment and more. Jenny Craig's plan includes a weekly one-on-one counseling session.
Price for 4 Weeks worth of Diet Meals, three meals a day:
Smart Ones: $178-$216
Jenny Craig: $300-$486