We ate Factor meals for a week to review if the delivery service meets the hype

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Marissa Miller/CNN Underscored
Marissa Miller/CNN Underscored

When you, well, factor in all the time it takes to plan dinner, venture to the grocery store to buy your ingredients and cook it before the hanger sets in, Factor meal delivery service sounds like a great idea.

The influencer-approved service, featuring fresh meals crafted by in-house dietitians, has long won the hearts of those serious about food and nutrition — mainly for its never-frozen meals that are ready to eat in minutes flat. But is Factor a viable option for everyday folks who don’t have time to whip up those good-for-you meals? I got a chance to try out the popular service for a week, with fare starting at $12 each, to see firsthand if it’s really worth the investment.


Factor Meal Delivery

Factor
Factor

Don’t have the time to cook healthy meals every day? Factor meal delivery service offers fresh, healthy and simple meals directly to your door. We love that each meal is crafted by chefs and dieticians, and that you can even add on things like snacks, smoothies and cold-pressed juices. It’s a delicious option for the busy gourmand.



What is Factor?

Like its name suggests, Factor is indeed a key factor in getting you fed every night. While frozen microwave dinners might be something we used to heat up as kids when our parents left us to our own devices come dinner time, Factor takes a more elevated approach: Each week, choose between 35 fresh dietitian- and chef-crafted meals that range from keto to veggie and calorie-reduced to protein-enhanced. Select the number of meals you’d like per week — 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, or 18 — along with your dietary preferences and shipping information, then select the specific meals you want delivered. You can also choose from over 60 different add-ons like breakfast, smoothies, cold-pressed juices and sweet and savory snacks to round out your day. Perishable items arrive in a box with ice packs to keep them fresh for approximately seven days, but specific best-before dates are listed on each dish.

As for prices, the more meals you buy per week, the less each one costs. Six meals will run you $14 each while 18 meals per week costs $12 each. That’s a pretty good deal considering you won’t have to purchase each ingredient (the majority of which might wilt in the back of your fridge before you get to use it up). This pricing structure is also in line with other competing delivery services like Cookunity, if not a hair cheaper.

What I liked about it

Marissa Miller/CNN Underscored
Marissa Miller/CNN Underscored

No cooking, thank you

Wait, so you’re saying we don’t have to cook? DIY meal kits may once have been en vogue (think Blue Apron, Green Chef and Hello Fresh, which acquired Factor in 2020), but these days, the jig is up — and we’d all really like a break. Factor makes it unfathomably easy to feed yourself. The meals arrive fully cooked, so like those frozen dinners of yore, all you need to do is pierce the plastic lid, peel its corner and heat it up in the microwave or oven until your meal reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (times vary between appliances, but it took me three minutes flat to heat up the salmon, for instance).

The brand suggests plating it, but if you can’t be bothered to wash a dish, it’s equally satisfying straight out of the container it came in. And then, you can add cleaning up to your checklist of chores successfully avoided.

The taste and variety is unparalleled

Whether you’re in your carbo-loading phase or looking to beef up your protein intake, there’s a dish (or several) that’ll crush your cravings while checking off your boxes. I’m based in Canada but wanted to ensure my American audience can take advantage of my same experience, so I made sure to select meals available in both regions. The options I received were heavy on chicken — a tired if not reliable weeknight staple — with some salmon and pasta options as well. They each felt a little fancier than something I would cook for myself. If you happen to be stuck in a dinner rut and find yourself cooking the same dishes over and over again, leave it to the pros at Factor to expand your taste buds while filling in any nutritional gaps. The creamed spinach that accompanied the pesto salmon was hands down one of the best things I’ve ever tasted and the wild rice that came with the mushroom-topped chicken really sold itself short as it was more of a fragrant risotto than a run-of-the-mill rice side dish.

Everything comes prepared

Sure, there’s merit to building your own meal — you get to feel like you’re enjoying the literal foods of your labor — but the effort required just doesn’t jive with a busy schedule. My gourmet salmon and chicken dinners were piping hot in a couple minutes flat, and you just don’t get that level of convenience when cooking for yourself or even ordering from DoorDash and Uber Eats. I was able to heat and eat an entire meal all before my newborn daughter started crying. Unheard of.

Each meal reheats well

Microwaves have gotten a bad rap. Between their association with processed foods and the way they tend to heat food unevenly (if not just the plate itself), it’s no wonder many of us shun this kitchen appliance. Yet, from proteins to grains to vegetables, each ingredient from Factor retained its structural integrity and texture without getting mushy. Each dish, particularly the mushroom-topped chicken thighs, felt moist — as if it was cooked that night. Even the green beans retained plenty of crunch. The cavatappi Bolognese pasta made of Marissa-approved ingredients like cauliflower, potato starch and eggs stayed perfectly al dente despite it having traveled god-knows-how-many miles to get to me.

What I didn’t like about it

Marissa Miller/CNN Underscored
Marissa Miller/CNN Underscored

The portions are on the small side

If you’re looking to cut calories or hit a specific macronutrient intake, managing your portion sizes with Factor might be just what the doctor ordered. However, as a certified personal trainer who sticks to a semi-vigorous weightlifting and cardiorespiratory exercise routine all while breastfeeding my newborn daughter, I need to be consuming more calories than ever before. These meals are incredibly satisfying from a taste perspective, but leave me requiring a little more fuel.

Here’s the thing about satiety: Wrapping up a meal before you’re truly full can either go two ways — your stomach will eventually send fullness cues to your brain, which can take around 20 minutes, or those satiety signals will never come, which can lead to a binge. I preemptively paired my pesto salmon and veggies with a sandwich to ward off said post-dinner binge. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking to rely on Factor to take care of the entirety of your meal. You’ll likely need a small side dish or an appetizer to tide you over, especially if you’re opting for the Calorie Smart menu or a meal plan that’s lower in protein or fiber, which both contribute to satiety.

The brand claims to be ‘clean’

“Clean” eating, characterized as a movement away from processed or refined foods, isn’t a regulated term, so brands tend to lean into their own definitions. While I absolutely appreciate Factor’s partiality towards whole foods that arrive in their natural state (think: fresh veg and lean meats), I consider it disingenuous to brand meals clean when so many of them contain trans fats, which are processed hydrogenated oils used to expand shelf life and that are linked to a host of illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, according to large bodies of research. While trans fats are tough to avoid, the World Health Organization recommends they account for less than one percent of your daily caloric intake.

Bottom line

Marissa Miller/CNN Underscored
Marissa Miller/CNN Underscored

I was incredibly impressed with the overall quality of each dish, which is saying a lot because I’m married to a chef with fine-dining experience. Whereas ordering takeout every night can ignite a sense of decision fatigue and add up really quickly, Factor makes it affordable and virtually effortless to get a wide variety of nutrients while expanding your palate (I’ve never been much of a green bean girlie, but may just have to give them another shot after this). If I didn’t enjoy the act of cooking for my family so much, I’d be thrilled to eat meals from Factor every night of the week.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

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