Diet 101: Jenny Craig

The Jenny Craig diet worked for Valerie Bertinelli and Jason Alexander, but is this diet plan right for you? Here are some need-to-know details of this popular plan.

This diet worked for Valerie Bertinelli and Jason Alexander, but is Jenny Craig right for you? Here are some need-to-know details of this popular program.


Founded in Australia in 1983, the Jenny Craig diet plan has grown to a worldwide franchise with more than 650 centers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.

When you start the Jenny Craig program, you work with their trained consultants -- either in person or over the phone -- to create customized eating plans. Next, you stock up on Jenny Craig's pre-packaged meals and snacks, which make up the bulk of your diet. You can supplement these meals with fresh fruits, veggies and low-fat dairy. Followers have weekly meetings with their consultants to help keep them motivated and on track. The weight-loss recommendation is about one to two pounds per week, which matches the rate the National Institute of Health considers safe.

Jenny Craig's daily eating plan consists of three balanced meals and three snacks. Because the meals come pre-portioned and packaged, there’s not much cooking involved. With more than 80 meals and snacks to choose from, there is some variety. Sample packaged meals include Turkey Burger, Meatloaf with BBQ Sauce, Chicken Fettuccini and Southwestern Style Chicken Burrito. For snacks, Jenny’s Anytime Bar, fresh fruits and veggies or even Jenny’s Molten Chocolate Cake are available. There are also meatless selections for vegetarians.

The Costs

There are membership costs, of course, and they vary depending on promotions. Right now, Jenny Craig is offering a $20 initiation fee plus the cost of food. Membership includes personalized consultations, meal plans, 24-7 online customer support and access to online web videos featuring the Jenny Craig experts. The bulk of your costs are in ordering the Jenny Craig meals (which they ship directly to you), and unfortunately, you only get to see those prices after you join. Some online sleuthing of consumer reviews shows that meals and snacks range from $2 to $6.50 a pop -- that means you might spend up to $25 a day, depending on what you're picking!

The Good

- The plan include balanced meals and snacks.

- Lots of hand holding and personalized support.

- Safe rate of weight loss recommended.

- They encourage moderate physical activity and exercise.

- Online support is available around the clock.

The Not-So Good

- Pre-packaged foods contain lots of preservatives.

- You'll have a tough time dining out.

- The plan doesn’t teach you how to eat real food and prepare your own meals.

- The packaged meals might be too expensive for some.

- Some folks have a tough time transitioning from packaged foods to homemade foods and tend to gain the weight back.

Bottom Line:

Eating pre-packaged food can really help keep portions under control, but all those preservatives aren’t so healthy. I’d rather learn to cook healthfully and enjoy wholesome food in the right portions. For the ease of pre-packaged, you can make foods in batches and freeze those healthy homemade dishes.

    Read up on other diets:
TELL US: Have you tried Jenny Craig?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Flour 101

Learn what differentiates types of flour and how to choose the one that's best for your desired baking outcome.

Staying Hydrated: Electrolytes 101

There’s more to beating the heat than just drinking water. Electrolytes are important nutrients that help maintain your body’s fluid balance.

Indian Pantry 101: Aarti's Spice Essentials

Not sure where to start when it comes to cooking Indian food? We asked Aarti to share her top five spice-rack staples — plus how and when to use them.

Diet 101: Dukan Diet

Although the Dukan Diet has been a best seller for years in France, it’s been rapidly growing popularity since Kate Middleton announced that she’s on it in order to lose weight for her upcoming royal nuptials to Prince William. Other celebs like model Giselle Bundchen and Jennifer Lopez have also reportedly been on the diet to help them shed their post-baby pounds. But should you be following in the footsteps of these high profile celebs?

Diet 101: DASH Diet

The DASH Diet was created for those with high blood pressure, but was recently voted Best Overall Diet for Healthy Eating by U.S. News. Find out what it's about.

Diet 101: The Bulletproof Diet

Are butter and coffee the answer to weight loss? According to Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof Diet, these two foods along with a laundry list of “bulletproof” foods are how you can shed pounds and reclaim your energy.

Diet 101: Flat Belly Diet

Seems like everyone has been asking me about losing belly fat lately. Is the Flat Belly Diet the way? Find out.

Diet 101: Blood Type Diets

Is the secret to weight loss success determined by your blood type? If you ask some blood-type diet fans, yes. If you ask us, doubtful. Learn more about one of the latest diet crazes.

Diet 101: The Military Diet

A nutrition expert weighs in on the Military Diet.