Flex Meals and The Nutrisystem Meal Plan Explained

Article posted in: Nutrisystem

Here at Nutrisystem, we don’t just teach you how to lose weight. We also teach you how to keep it off!

That’s why most Nutrisystem plans include Flex meals. They give you variety, flexibility and teach you healthy habits for lasting weight loss success.

Flex meals give you the freedom to dine out or enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals throughout the week. Instead of eating a Nutrisystem entrée, Flex meals are meals that you create or order out by following our simple guidelines. Recreate a family recipe or hit up your favorite restaurant!

As you lose today, you are learning a new way to eat and to prepare food for yourself. Flex meals help you practice your new knowledge about healthy ingredients and portion sizes. They help you get ready for a lifetime of eating well and maintaining your healthy weight.

Flex meals couldn’t be more simple! All it takes is choosing from the five building blocks:

  1. PowerFuels
  2. SmartCarbs
  3. Vegetables
  4. Extras
  5. Free Foods

Most Nutrisystem plans get to enjoy 2 Flex breakfasts, 2 Flex lunches, 2 Flex dinners and 2 Flex snacks each week (men prepare 4 Flex snacks). If you opted for a Nutrisystem plan that includes seven days of food each week, you don’t have to worry about Flexing. Just stick to your Nutrisystem foods for each meal occasion!

Does your plan include Fast 5 for your first week? You’ll start adding in Flex meals in week 2, unless you are on a 7-day plan.

Check out The Leaf for thousands of healthy Flex meal recipes and to download our Dining Out Guide!

The Building Blocks


These high-quality proteins and healthy fats are often the at the center of your plate. They satisfy your hunger and are essential fuel for your body.
Examples: lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy, nuts
*Enjoy 1-3 servings per Flex meal depending on your plan


These nutrient-rich carbohydrates are packed with fiber and rank low to medium on the Glycemic Index. This means they digest slower and keep you full longer.
Examples: fruits, starchy vegetables, beans, whole grains
*Enjoy 1-3 servings per Flex meal depending on your plan


These nutrient-rich veggies are full of fiber yet low in calories. They fill up your plate (and your belly!) and are packed with vitamins to keep you healthy.
Examples: leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, carrots
*At least 4 servings per day, unlimited

Extras (Optional)

These tasty ingredients take your meals to the next level. Some add sweetness, while others bring a bit of healthy fats that make your food just a little more satisfying.
Examples: ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, honey
*Limit to 3 servings per day

Free Foods (Optional)

These low-calorie add-ins are the best way to pump up the flavor of any meal. They come in all kinds of flavors, from savory to spicy to sweet.
Examples: spices, low-sodium broth, lemon juice, hot sauce
*Enjoy in unlimited amounts

Click here to download the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for examples of each grocery add-in category! >

The Guidelines

Using the building blocks above, you will create your Flex meals.

Breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks all have different Flex meal guidelines. Check out the graphs below for an example of what each Flex meal may contain.

Please note that Flex meal guidelines will vary depending on your specific Nutrisystem program. Use the NuMi app for your specific PowerFuel and SmartCarb goals.

flex lunch example

To build your Flex Meals, you’ll want to consult with your Nutrisystem Grocery Guide to determine which SmartCarbs and which PowerFuels you’d like to include. Check out the examples below for some meal ideas you could make using the specified guidelines. Or, if you’d rather not fuss, just visit our Flex Meals section in the Recipe Center for some delicious and easy recipes that fit perfectly into your meal plan!

Easy Combinations for Flex Meals

Ready to fix your first Flex meal? Get some Flex meal inspiration from these tasty combination ideas for each meal occasion.

Please Note: You can easily adjust the below combinations to fit your specific meal plan. See NuMi for your personal Flex meal guidelines. For example, if your Flex lunch calls for 2 PowerFuels, simply enjoy 2 servings of the PowerFuel shown OR add on another PowerFuel from the list of examples. Feel free to add more Vegetables and Free Foods to your liking! Extras are always optional.

flex breakfast ideas

flex lunch ideas

flex dinner ideas

flex snack ideas

10 Easy PowerFuel and SmartCarb Pairings

1. Banana and Almond Butter
PowerFuel: Nut butter, 1 Tbsp.
SmartCarb: Banana, 1 medium

2. Yogurt and Berries
PowerFuel: Yogurt, nonfat or low-fat, plain, 1 cup OR Greek yogurt, plain, ½ cup
SmartCarb: Berries (blackberries, blueberries, whole strawberries), 1 cup

3. Cottage Cheese and Pineapple
PowerFuel: Cottage Cheese, low-fat, ½ cup
SmartCarb: Pineapple, 1 cup

4. Protein Shake with Fruit
PowerFuel: Nutrisystem Protein Shake, 1 serving OR another Protein Powder, (e.g. whey, soy), approx. 2 Tbsp.
SmartCarb: Fruit (fresh, frozen or canned in 100% juice), 1 cup

5. Celery, Peanut Butter and Raisins
PowerFuel: Nut butter, 1 Tbsp.
SmartCarb: Raisins, no added sugar, ¼ cup
Vegetable: Celery, 2 medium stalks

6. Whole Grain PB&J
PowerFuel: Nut butter, 1 Tbsp.
SmartCarb: Bread, whole grain, 1 slice
Extra: Jelly, 2 tsp.

7. Fruit and Nuts
PowerFuel: Nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnut halves), 2 Tbsp.
SmartCarb: Fresh Fruit, 1 cup OR Dried Fruit, no added sugar, ¼ cup

8. Deli Meat and Pita Bread
PowerFuel: Deli Meat, lower-sodium, 2 oz.
SmartCarb: Pita Bread, 6-inch whole wheat, 1 pita

9. Hard-Boiled Egg on Toast
PowerFuel: Egg, 1 large
SmartCarb: Bread, whole grain, 1 slice

10. A Glass of Milk with Strawberries
PowerFuel: Milk, low-fat or soy, 8 fl. oz. (1 cup)
SmartCarb: Whole Strawberries, 1 cup