We tried one of the most popular diet plans to see what the food is really like -- and what we found was shocking

Nutrisystem has been around for 35 years and claims to be an easy and affordable way to lose weight. The company provides prepared food and meal plans. Its diet plans are designed as portion controlled, pre-prepared meals.

The most basic meal package is $9.64 per day, or $269.99 for a 4-week package. With this plan, customers are given a variety of food selected by Nutrisystem with the potential of losing 10 pounds and 5-inches off the waist in one month.

Nutrisystem provides a grocery guide with all the extra items allowed while on the diet plan, as well as a “My Daily 3”, an activity agenda with suggested activities for exercise.

We tested out Nutrisystem’s packaged meals to see what the food is really like. While our expectations were reasonable going in, we were shokced at how tiny the portions were.

Nutrisystem is a diet plan that provides customers with pre-packaged food by the day or by the week. It costs $9.64 per day, or $269.99 for a 4-week plan. We got one weeks worth of food -- 28 items -- to see how it works.

Hollis Johnson

Dietitians at Nutrisystem designed the program to contain small portions, balanced nutrition, and frequent meals. The program encourages customers to eat every 2-3 hours. We discovered that the portions are shockingly tiny.

We began by tasting a few of the breakfast items -- all of which needed to be microwaved for preparation. Here are the items we tried:

Hollis Johnson

Turkey, ham, and cheese omelet:

Hollis Johnson

Microwaving an omelet is dubious at best. After taking the first bite, we only taste salt. Nutrisystem claims that the sodium content of its items are below the USDA's recommended daily serving.

Turkey sausage and egg muffin:

Hollis Johnson

This is definitely no Egg McMuffin. It's bland, and the taste of the whole grain English muffin overwhelms the meal, leaving a bad aftertaste.

Thick-sliced French toast:

Hollis Johnson

Honestly, we can only describe this item as soggy bread. Not even maple syrup can save it -- which is not on the recommended grocery guide.

Cinnamon roll:

Hollis Johnson

Not bad, not exactly Cinnabon. It's a cinnamon roll, how complicated can it get?

Now onto lunch.

Hollis Johnson

Meatball parmesan melt:

Hollis Johnson

Nutrisystem's take on the meatball sub is average at best, especially considering it was heated up in a microwave. It could be worse ...

Hamburger:

Hollis Johnson

A measly bun with a patty that fits in the palm of your hand. No cheese, no onions, no condiments -- although veggie add-ons are technically allowed. Microwaved for one minute and ready to disappoint.

Broccoli and cheese melt:

Hollis Johnson

The packaging says this contains one serving of broccoli, but we could only taste extremely salty cheese and a faint bitterness. A paltry amount of broccoli and a heaping amount of salt.

Pepperoni pizza melt:

Hollis Johnson

This was by far the best meal we tried. Probably because it's comparable to a Hot Pocket -- but it's also flavorful. The whole wheat wrap isn't overpowering thanks to the herb seasoning.

The dinner options have more variety. No more melts, but pizzas, pastas and meat:

Hollis Johnson

Broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken:

Hollis Johnson

Not exactly Le Cordon Bleu. The chicken is juicy, but bland. And unlike the broccoli and cheese melt, this has way more broccoli and less cheese.

Chicken parmesan:

Hollis Johnson

If you could take a McDonald's Chicken McNugget and put watery marinara sauce on it and surround it with spaghetti -- this is it.

Ravioli formaggio:

Hollis Johnson

With only four raviolis, you know you're on a diet. Yet with 600 mg of sodium, it's questionable how nutritious this diet plan is. Albeit, the sauce isn't bad.

Chicken, bacon, and ranch pizza:

Hollis Johnson

Microwaving a pizza doesn't exactly give the best results. Since it is frozen then reheated, the whole wheat crust hardens, resembling cardboard. There is also an insufficient amount of bacon on it. More bacon please!

Snack time. Or dessert? Most of the items provided in the week's worth of food were dessert items:

Hollis Johnson

Orange creme bar:

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Very sweet and very messy.

Chocolate cupcake:

Hollis Johnson

We had high hopes for this one, but it is a flop. The chocolate has an awkward bitter taste that doesn't suit a cupcake well.

Red velvet whoopie pie:

Hollis Johnson

This looks nothing like its advertisement. The cake has a gelatinous texture and the cream tastes artificial ... even though it claims not to have artificial preservatives.

Chocolate brownie sundae:

Hollis Johnson

Luckily this just tastes like good, cheap ice cream. This would be hard to botch.

While Nutrisystem is convenient by mailing pre-prepared items, it's important to note that people who are allergic to soy, wheat, peanuts, and latex won't be able to participate.

Hollis Johnson

Realistically, the Nutrisystem program can be done...

Hollis Johnson

...but the tiny portions and lack of flavour might be unsatisfying for customers. Most of the foods are salty and it would be discouraging to eat microwavable food for almost every meal of the day for four weeks.

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