This is the time of the year when the mind turns to whether there will be anything new at Weight Watchers. Historically Weight Watchers has typically made program changes in early December and often rolls out other new things around the same time.
Last year, we had the major Beyond the Scale program as well as SmartPoints that debuted in early December. In addition, there were other new things such as the changes to the website and to the mobile apps. Also, Weight Watchers debuted home delivered meals with Chef’d last November.
So, what is in store for this year? I am often asked if I think Weight Watchers will make changes to SmartPoints. Typically, Weight Watchers only does major changes every 4 or 5 years and occasionally does minor ones as needed. Given that, I never expected any major changes to SmartPoints this year. While I think some tweaking is warranted, I don’t expect to see it. And, the rumor I heard was that there will be no changes to SmartPoints itself. Now, that is rumor and I have no way to know whether there will or will not be changes. But, if I had to bet, I would expect no changes. Now, there could be minor changes particularly to things that aren’t SmartPoints. So there could be changes to apps, or the website, or to messaging and so on. In past years, during PointsPlus there were years there were no changes to PointsPlus but there was a change of emphasis as to what was discussed during year. I would expect to see some sort of things like that, but I have no information.
However, I have heard about Weight Watchers Fresh. I got this information from a member on a message board. And, this is not a rumor since there is an actual website giving out the information. I will say up front that this appears to have limited availability and is not available in all states at least based upon information on the website.
When you go to the website you see this screen:
From what I understand, you start out with a voucher from Weight Watchers (not sure what that costs). You then create an account for WW Fresh. You make an order using the initial voucher and if you have anything left after the first order, it is applied to future order. Basically, you then buy fresh meals. The food is transported chilled via Federal Express. (It is possible these things could vary in different locales. This is from the one user who reported on this). This is an example of the type of meals from the meal catalog page:
If you click on a food you are given the ingredients and allergens, but not the nutritional information. Dinners are $8, salads $7, breakfasts are $6 and snacks are $5. Whether you get nutritional information if you order a food is something I don’t know. I don’t have a voucher so can’t log in.
I think this is interesting, but do wonder about some things. First, though, this is way more reasonable in price than Chef’d. I haven’t use Chef’d but I gather they send you the ingredients for a meal and then you cook it. And, the dinners seemed to be in the $13 per person range. I had originally assumed the WW Fresh meals were already prepared and much more reasonable in cost. The subscription info said that the meals were ready to eat. But, that may not be the case. The help page under cooking indicates you have to prepare the food yourself. You get a recipe card and the pre-chopped, ready to cook ingredients. Some of the other things, though, I can’t imagine anyone ordering. You can get a serving of grapes or of cantaloupe chunks for $5 (each). Umm, no.
I am sort of wondering why they have this if they have Chef’d. This seems very similar. You have to prepare your meal yourself following their instructions. I wonder if they will be phasing Chef’d out. I notice that there current promotion, though, for new members gives you some Chef’d meals. But, maybe that is finishing out a commitment to Chef’d? Don’t know. And, maybe, you don’t have to cook it and it is ready to eat but they are giving the wrong info in the help page. I hope someone will try it and we find out. (See edit that some people at their meeting got materials saying the food was ready to eat after being microwaved).
The foods listed on there look good. But, there are only 8 dinners to choose from and 7 lunches. That isn’t a lot particularly if you are trying to spend an $88 voucher (I don’t know if you can split the voucher over multiple orders). It is possible that they will offer more choices in the future
There is a help link at the bottom of the page. This takes you to a page with questions where you learn that the nutritional information is available if email or call them. That is completely and utterly absurd. This is basic information that people will want and it is ridiculous to make them jump through hoops to get it. I don’t know if this is a Weight Watchers goof or if they picked a partner who isn’t very savvy. I have never fathomed why Weight Watchers is so terrible at technology, but here is an example. They do note that the SmartPoints value they give you may differ from that you get from plugging in the information to a calculator. They note this is because they don’t include zero point foods in the calculation. That makes sense. And, it may be why they don’t provide nutritional information. That is, they don’t want to confuse people or have people asking why SmartPoints don’t match nutritional information. Still, they should supply the information and just explain any difference.
The other thing I wonder about is how long the food stays fresh. Years ago, I tried to lose weight using a local prepared meals service. You bought food from a list and were given an order in which to eat it. I think the maximum it was good for was 4 days (and that was picking it up the day prepared). Some foods had to be eaten in 2 days. With this food having to be delivered (even though chilled), I wonder how quickly it has to be eaten. Perhaps some of it could be frozen, but not things like salads.
Let’s see…. The help page says freshness depends on type of ingredient but generally lasts a week. Apparently, there is an “enjoy by” date on the container. So, that is all good to know. But, a week seems to be pushing it for some of the food. But, maybe it is because you prepare the food yourself, so maybe that is reasonable.
Apparently there are vegetarian options that are based upon preferences when you sign up. I don’t know if that means there are more meal options than those on the catalog or if it means vegetarian options are sparse. One dinner and one lunch on the catalog appear to be vegetarian.
The base subscription plan is $88 per week for 12 items which includes 3 dinners, 3 lunches, 3 breakfasts, and 3 snacks. This is there smallest plan. It is unclear to me if you have to sign up for a recurring plan, but there is info about cancelling so I think you get it until you cancel. Apparently they “curate” meals based upon preferences, but you can modify the meals.
Also, the subscription price is $88 but the posted prices for meals would come out to $78 for 3 of each type of meal. What is the other $10 for? Why have prices on the meals if you pay more than that? The $10 isn’t for shipping since that is extra cost. Delivery is another $10 unless an order has 16 or more items in which case it is free. Perhaps the posted prices are if you want to add on something beyond your plan? This is not clear. Also, can you decide you don’t want breakfasts and get more lunches or snacks instead (paying a difference in any added cost)? Don’t get that information either.
This is not available everywhere. It is available in the Eastern Region and the Western Region. It is not shown as available in my state (Texas). I count it as being in about 34 states, with some of them only part of the state.
This looks interesting and is less expensive than Chef’d. But it still seems a little pricey particularly since there is $10 in the $88 subscription that is beyond the meal cost and if you buy 12 items — the amount in the subscription — you pay another $10 for delivery. And, honestly, if I am going to pay that much for dinner then I want it already prepared. If I have to prepare it myself I would rather just use a good cookbook and buy the ingredient myself and cook. But, again, at one place it says these are ready to eat meals so maybe they are already prepared.
It also seems to be very limited in choice and without a lot of flexibility unless there are a lot more meals added (which maybe will happen). It is not available in my area so I don’t have to think about it too much. I could see it being helpful for people who like to cook, but don’t want to figure out points friendly recipes and don’t like shopping. If meals were fully prepared, though, then maybe it would be more appealing. Here is the link to the Help page where you can read details and see where it is available.
Edit: In the comments it was indicated that the materials at a meeting where this was introduced said this was ready to eat meals. And, someone else told me the same thing from his meeting. So, that implies the stuff on the help page about cooking stuff is wrong.
Edit 11/16/2016: On the messageboards at wwmessageboards.freeforums.net, a user Zazzles did engage in chat on the WW Fresh page. He founds out that meals are prepared and only require heating or perhaps something minor like spreading tuna on a tortilla. Also, there are supposed to be increased items for the menu. To sign up, you have to have a voucher. If your area is participating in this you can go to the center to buy an $88 voucher. I think this allows online members to get access to it as well.
From reports I’ve seen a number of areas are being told about it at their meeting this week. So, I think that areas that are currently participating are getting the information during this week. Of course, I would imagine that participating areas might increase in future.