Using a meal delivery service can be a great way to stick to a weight-loss or healthy eating regime, and both Bistro MD and Nutrisystem provide prepared meals targeted toward those very goals.
On the surface, both services appear to have pretty similar offerings – but I discovered several differences that might make one of them a better choice for you. In this comparison, I look at their strengths and weaknesses across several categories so you can make an informed decision.
Diabetes-friendly, heart-friendly, gluten-free, menopause-specific, gender-specific
Diabetes-friendly, vegetarian, gender-specific
150+ options (fewer for those on the Basic plan)
Free shipping on subscription and Success a la carte unfrozen orders and frozen orders over $75. For all other orders, the shipping charge is $7.99-$20
Five minutes or less
Six minutes or less
Both BistroMD and Nutrisystem offer meals based on their respective weight loss programs, so if you’re looking for a specific diet like keto or paleo, these are not the services for you. Instead, you’ll find programs designed to meet gender-specific caloric and nutritional requirements.
Within this broad classification, BistroMD offers a Standard program, a Heart Healthy program (meals with less sodium and saturated fat), a Diabetic program (meals with 25g or less net carbs), a Menopause program, and a Gluten Free program.
Although BistroMD claims to let you customize any of these programs, it isn't as flexible as many others.
For example, while you can pick your own meals for the week and swap or remove any suggested by the BistroMD dietitians, you still have to pick from a relatively unchanging menu. Also, you can't replace or leave out ingredients for each meal, including any allergens.
Nutrisystem, on the other hand, offers a standard meal plan for men and women and also diabetic-friendly and vegetarian-friendly options. You can’t customize recipes but you can filter out meals on the basis of a variety of allergens including soy, nuts, fish, etc.
BistroMD and Nutrisystem both work with a more or less permanent menu, with occasional new additions. So it isn't surprising that both claim to offer 150+ options, to avoid frequent meal repetitions.
However, BistroMD actually has more than 150 options if you consider its very appetizing EATS (Essential And Tasty Snacks) as well. If you count breakfast, lunch/dinner, and snack items, BistroMD currently has 179 options on the menu, although some of these might only be available seasonally.
Nutrisystem, meanwhile, has 117 items on its current menu including breakfast, lunch/dinner, and snack items. Only the Uniquely Yours and Ultimate plans have access to all menu items. The Basic plan has fewer options to select from.
So, BistroMD has the upper hand on the number of dishes it offers. However, this isn’t all that matters – what’s on offer matters just as much. As it happens, BistroMD has the upper hand there as well. BistroMD meals are largely gourmet, with a mix of different protein types including chicken, beef, pork, turkey, and fish.
In addition to favorites including Sloppy Joes and Four Cheese Ravioli, you’ll also find other world cuisines, including Mexican, Mediterranian, Italian, and Asian. For example, the Beef Chipotle Chili with Corn Pudding or the Sweet and Sour Meatballs.
The Nutrisystem menu, on the other hand, contains mostly comfort foods, including three different Mac and Cheese options, a variety of burgers, sandwiches, and plenty of wraps, soups, and pizzas. Nutrisystem’s lunch menu contains more snack-like meals than actual entrées, with several bars and soups. However, the dinner menu is all real meals.
Nutrisystem also has some world cuisine options with Asian, Mexican, and Italian dishes in the mix, like Kung Pao Noodles, Chicken Enchilada, and Ravioli in Meat Sauce.
Winner: BistroMD is the clear winner here.
There's quite a big difference between these two meal delivery services when it comes to pricing.
BistroMD offers four different plan combinations. You can either opt for the Full Program which includes three meals a day or the Lunch/Dinner option with two meals per day. With each of these, you can decide to get meals five or seven days a week. The more meals you order the lower your price per meal.
The seven-day Full Program costs $189.95 and includes 20 meals with seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and six dinners. It allows one cheat night for a well-deserved indulgence. So, technically, BistroMD’s lowest-priced meal is $9.49. However, when you factor in the shipping cost of $19.95, this goes up to $10.49 per meal.
The first order often comes with a discount, such as a 25% discount plus free shipping.
When ordering, you can add a set of 10 or 14 snacks (two snacks per day for five or seven days) for $20 and $28 respectively. However, you can't select which set you want at the time of ordering. This can only be edited after the order has been placed.
In comparison, Nutrisystem is a lot less expensive. The pricing is slightly confusing, though, as every plan has multiple prices based on how you decide to get it shipped.
You can save a lot of money (more than 50%) if you order multiple shipments upfront, and you’ll also get a cheaper price if you opt for auto-delivery rather than a one-off purchase.
Nutrisystem offers free shipping on all its programs. A shipping charge is only levied on certain a la carte orders and ranges between $7.99 - $20 based on the type of items and the order value.
Another thing worth considering is that Nutrisystem has pretty small portion sizes and some of its lunches are actually just bars. So you might just end up spending extra on non-Nutrisystem meals to fill yourself up (I know I did).
Much like any other prepared meal delivery service, BistroMD delivers meals weekly. Each meal comes neatly packed in individual plastic containers with a cardboard sleeve.
The packaging is largely recyclable, something I always appreciate. The outer box, cardboard partitions, and paper packaging can all be recycled.
The plastic containers can also be recycled. The only questionable part of the packaging is the film wrap, which is used liberally.
Nutrisystem has also now switched to more environment-friendly packaging, with its biodegradable boxes.
Given that most Nutrisystem meals are pre-packaged, there is plenty of plastic and paper used. While the paper packaging and containers can be recycled, you’ll have to check your local recycling facilities for the plastic wrap on bars, cereals, and other similar items.
As for delivery, Nutrisystem delivers your meals every 28 days, unless you’re on the 2-Week Plan, ensuring you’ll be fully stocked for the month. You can’t nominate a delivery day – your first package will arrive between 1-10 business days from ordering.
Nutrisystem and BistroMD both deliver heat-and-eat meals. The only difference is that all of BistroMD’s meals are freshly prepared and flash frozen whereas Nutrisystem offers some frozen meals and a lot of pre-packaged meals.
While both companies’ frozen meals need to go into your freezer, the pre-packaged Nutrisystem meals come with a healthy shelf-life. With BistroMD, all you have to do is put them in the microwave or oven as recommended. With Nutrisystem, some dishes require you to add boiling water.
Overall, both advertize a prep time of a few minutes: five minutes for BistroMD and six minutes max for Nutrisystem. In reality, though, you may want to add a couple of extra minutes if you like your food steaming hot, as my husband does.
Even with the few extra minutes, both meal delivery services make it extremely convenient and easy to prep your meal.
Winner: An inarguable tie!
So far we have one win each for Nutrisystem and BistroMD and three solid ties. But I have picked an overall winner and for good reason. BistroMD wins thanks to its science-backed nutrition.
If you’re looking for a healthy way to lose and keep off weight, BistroMD is the way to go. The service was started by doctor Caroline Cederquist and meals are designed by registered dietitians under her guidance to ensure weight loss as well as wholesome daily nutrition. As well as this, the meals are prepared by chefs with fresh, quality ingredients and are flash-frozen to preserve the freshness and the nutritional value.
Nutrisystem advertises itself as a “fast way” to lose weight and reviews suggest it works. If you’re looking to drop a few pounds quickly, on a budget, Nutrisystem might be a good option for you. The controlled portions and reduced daily calorie intake will accelerate weight loss but bear in mind that’s not always the most sustainable option long-term.
Overall winner: Thanks to its healthy and nutritious meals, BistroMD wins this particular race.
If you’re ready to take a step towards healthy eating habits and want to consider even more options, check out our round-up of the best meal delivery services of 2021.