Weight Watchers (now WW) and Nutrisystem are both popular diet plans offering very different services. Weight Watchers supports you through your diet by helping you make better food choices and guiding you through healthier meal prep.
On the other hand, Nutrisystem is a weight loss plan and meal delivery service in one. That means you’re less likely to have any slip-ups at mealtimes, with 28 days’ worth of prepared meals delivered to your door.
Differences aside, both Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem are educational programs that promote good nutrition and exercise goals for healthier living.
Using what we know about meal delivery services and the difficulties of dieting, we looked closely at these two vendors to write this Weight Watchers vs. Nutrisystem comparison.
Weight Watchers (WW)
Set your own, based on your wellness and nutrition goals
Balanced, Men’s Health, Diabetes-Friendly, Vegetarian
Create your own menu
100-150+ dishes per menu
$13.52 per month (approx $0.45 per day)
$260.12 per month (approx $9.29 per day)
Heat and eat
WW offers the ultimate flexibility in terms of dietary preferences for the simple fact that you have complete control over the ingredients you use. While some people prefer to have their meals prepared for them, like with many meal delivery services, others with strict dietary preferences might want to consider something easier to customize.
Nutrisystem has done a good job of expanding its meal delivery services to individuals with dietary specifications, including a dedicated Men’s Health plan (with higher caloric intake), Vegetarian, and Diabetes-Friendly options.
But despite Nutrisystem’s best efforts to cater to dietary preferences, it just can’t compete with the customization capabilities of preparing your own meals with a program like Weight Watchers. For that reason, Weight Watchers wins this round.
Having been in the weight loss game for nearly 60 years now, Weight Watchers is a force to be reckoned with. Today, when you sign up, you can access its library of more than 9,000 recipes.
With collections that include Featured Recipes, Low SmartPoints Meals, Family Favorites, and more, you can lose yourself for hours just browsing through potential meals as you plan out your week.
All of these options mean you’ll never get bored of your meals, that’s for sure. Though the constant decision-making about what to cook can become a bit of a burdensome process. For those more inclined to have their meals planned out for them, Nutrisystem has two options: Chef’s Choice or I’ll Pick My Meals.
With Chef’s Choice, all of your meals and snacks will be selected for you, chosen from Nutrisystem’s most popular menu options, depending on your dietary preferences. Otherwise, you can freely select from more than 150+ meals and snacks for your 28-day plan (100+ on the Basic plan).
Although the debate of who has the most menu variety between Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem is likely to be based on personal preference, we’re going to give this one to Weight Watchers. With the extensive library of recipes that it's established, it’s hard to compete. That’s not to say we aren’t thoroughly pleased to see the variety Nutrisystem also has to offer.
The most basic plan that Weight Watchers has to offer is its Digital plan, which is designed for a self-guided dieting experience. At $3.38 per week (or $13.52 per month), you gain access to the award-winning app, 9,000+ recipes, on-demand workouts, and 24/7 Coach chat, among other great features.
Through the Digital plan, you’ll also be able to track your achievements and view your weekly progress report, set goals for the following week, and monitor your progress each step of the way.
The starting price for Nutrisystem is $9.29 per day (or $260.12 per month) with the Basic Plan for Women. Included in this four-week plan are five breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks each week. You can choose from more than 100+ different dishes, as well as gain access to additional recipes to create healthy meals for your in-between days.
It may seem as though Weight Watchers has Nutrisystem blown out of the water on this one, but we’re not sure it’s that simple. While access to the diet program is cheaper, remember that you will still have to purchase all your own ingredients for your meals and snacks through Weight Watchers.
When you consider all of the additional costs from groceries, it’s difficult to distinguish which between the two is more cost-effective. Additionally, it’s worth noting the cost with respect to the effectiveness of the plan.
It’s hard to say which is better: paying for Weight Watchers, but possibly not sticking to the diet plan because it requires preparing the meals yourself, or paying the higher costs associated with Nutrisystem but not having to worry about going off track? In this case, it balances out, so we’ll settle on a tie.
When it comes to Weight Watchers, there isn’t much to discuss about delivery and packaging because you’re not receiving any meals from the company directly. While WW will prepare you in terms of recipe ideas, you’ll be tasked to source all of the ingredients yourself.
On the other end of the spectrum, Nutrisystem is responsible for producing waste in the form of its monthly subscription boxes. We were delighted to see, though, that Nutrisystem has heightened awareness of its environmental impact and aims to go green.
Some of its aims include:
Using biodegradable and recyclable cooler boxes made with environmentally friendly materials
Using seasonal, local ingredients
Creating meals using lots of plant-based foods
Focusing on portion control to cut down on food waste
Because of all the steps Nutrisystem is taking to be more environmentally friendly, it wins in terms of delivery and packaging. Not to mention, the convenience of having your meals auto-delivered monthly (with free delivery) beats going to the grocery store every time!
Weight Watchers does a great job of making prepping and cooking healthy meals from home quick and easy. Each recipe card shows the total time required for each meal, so it’s easy to pick something based on the amount of time you have on any given day.
A crucial element to consider is the time it takes to gather the ingredients for each recipe. While you’ll spend time choosing your menu for the week, you’ll also have to make time to prepare an ingredients list and head to the store.
On the other hand, Nutrisystem couldn’t make mealtimes any easier. With all its prepared meals and snacks, you’re looking at minimal prep time. Some are refrigerated and others frozen – with the frozen ones requiring slightly more time.
Every item on the menu comes with a prep method which you can view online before selecting it as one of your options, so you can dodge the lengthier cook times if needed. The Roasted Red Pepper Pesto & Chicken Flatbread, for example, takes longer to cook than most other Nutrisystem meals, if you opt to heat it in the oven.
It doesn’t get simpler than having your meals ready to heat, delivered to your door. With minimal cooking time required, Nutrisystem beats Weight Watchers, hands down.
WW and Nutrisystem offer very different weight loss programs, making it difficult to compare them and find a distinct winner. That said, if we had to pick between the two, our winner would be Nutrisystem.
Diets are difficult enough to stick to on their own, but when you add in the task of planning your meals, going to the store to get your ingredients, prepping, and cooking, it leaves more room for hiccups along the way.
Nutrisystem eliminates any threat of not sticking to your diet by providing you with all of your daily meals and snacks. The plan is straightforward to follow, and research shows you can lose a fair amount of weight in the first month of switching to Nutrisystem.
For anyone with food allergies or strict dietary preferences, Nutrisystem might not be the best option since all meals come prepared. If you fall under one of these categories, it might be in your best interest to look at the diet plans Weight Watchers has to offer. Since you are preparing all your meals yourself, you can source the ingredients you know your body can handle.
Nutrisystem is not only our recommendation in this comparison, but it also made it onto our list of the best meal delivery services.
Overall winner: Nutrisystem