As diet gurus never stop advising (and our own reader surveys confirm), portion control is the magic bullet that successful losers use to slough off the pounds and keep them off. So much so, in fact, that it's part of the basic business plan of Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem (results available to subscribers), two of the top U.S. commercial diet plans.
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem sell plan members branded, packaged entrées, snacks, and desserts, which members then supplement with store-bought fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. We've often wondered how those companies' meals-in-a-box compare with each other in terms of taste.
And now we know. We joined both programs, obtained menus, and ordered foods. Our tests of a week's worth of food from the companies found that when it came to taste, Jenny Craig edged out Nutrisystem.
But not by a large margin: Jenny Craig's food scored in the high end of the Good range compared with the low end of Good for its rival. (To our taste testers, "good" means OK but not great.)
Our bottom line for taste is that the plans might be worth trying if you're willing to stick with their branded foods. But you can achieve the same portion control with diet meals and entrées from the supermarket freezer case that may be tastier. (We didn't test Weight Watchers foods because they're not a required part of the program and anyone can buy them in grocery stores.)