Factor Review: Satisfying but Slimy

“You have to eat to live, not live to eat.” That’s something a family member used to say to me when I was younger and insisted I didn’t care about nutrition. I wanted to eat purely for the flavor of things. What did she mean I couldn’t just eat potato chips and black olives all day for the rest of my life?

She probably would have loved Factor.

This single-serving prepared-meal delivery service is owned by HelloFresh. It has plans ranging in price from $84 for six meals per week to $207 for 18 meals per week—all just heat-and-eat. That makes each meal range from $14 per serving to $11 per serving, depending on the plan you choose. There’s a weekly rotating menu with 35 or more selections to choose from, plus various add-ons for things like breakfast and juice. You can select from among different types of meals such as keto, calorie smart, vegetarian, and vegan. Factor (sometimes referred to as Factor 75) emphasizes health and nutrition heavily in its marketing, and there are dietitians you can speak with for free to figure out which meals to order. (Probably see an actual doctor if you’re considering changing your diet to meet a perceived need.)

I tested this service a few years ago for our meal kit subscription guide. When testing it a second time for this review, I was happy to find that the ready-made meals have improved … somewhat. But take those words with a hefty grain of salt, because even though it might be an OK choice for some people, I still can’t recommend the service.

Texture Issues

Factor’s meals are fresh, not frozen, and arrive fully cooked and chilled. All you need to do is pop them in the microwave or oven and, in two-ish or seven-ish minutes, respectively, your meal will be complete. They’re served in recyclable individual plastic containers, TV-dinner style.

Photograph: Louryn Strampe

My partner and I tried a few different meals for this round of testing, including Chicken Alfredo Pasta, Filet Mignon and Mushroom Risotto, Grilled Steakhouse Filet Mignon, Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken, Louisiana Shrimp, and Tomato Chicken Risotto. We also tried two of the add-ons—Banana Walnut Overnight Oats and the Cold-Pressed Juice Variety Pack. Keep in mind that these meals are a bit bulky, so you’ll need to clear out some fridge space.

I don’t have a microwave, so I heated each meal up in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven (be sure to remove the plastic film first). And every single one of them was … mushy. I felt like an oversize baby, or a companion animal that eats only various pates and meat chunks. Even when items tasted good, they still felt like mush. Factor meals have always reminded me a bit of sad airplane food.

The side dishes have vastly improved since I last tested them—I’d happily eat that Tomato Chicken Risotto on a regular basis. Most of the veggies and sides had good texture and flavor. And every single meal was super filling. But unfortunately, there’s just no way to enjoy a precooked, reheated steak. The meat hunk that was supposed to be a filet mignon mushed when I cut into it. It crumbled apart in my mouth. And it both tasted and felt as if some Star Trek–esque prototype device had been instructed to replicate a steak—vague hints of pepper and caramelized meat, but served in such a way that chewing wasn’t required.

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