Factor was founded to deliver fresh, chef-prepared meals that take the guesswork out of eating healthy, and Factor meals are backed by dietitians and prepared by gourmet chefs. The company was created in 2012 and was acquired by meal kit giant HelloFresh in 2020.
Factor has gained traction in the industry by serving up “clean eating” options that are lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein in order to accommodate folks looking for keto, low carb, and plant-based eats. We tried out the service to see how well it stacks up against expectations and claims.
Factor’s weekly menus are developed by chefs and dietitians, geared toward specific higher fat and protein nutrition profiles, and mostly follow a protein-side-sauce format.
Pricing: Flat Fee Shipping
Pricing for Factor meals becomes less expensive as you purchase more food, which tends to be standard across meal delivery services. Plans include Chef’s Choice, Keto, Calorie Smart, and Vegan & Veggie, which are all priced the same. Factor charges a flat $9.99 for shipping on top of the cost of meals, no matter what, and the cost of meals breaks down as follows:
- 4 meals per week: $60
- 6 meals per week: $77
- 8 meals per week: $99
- 10 meals per week: $120
- 12 meals per week: $138
- 18 meals per week: $198
How It Works: Prepared Meals, Subscription Style
Factor offers a subscription service of single-serving, heat-and-eat meals for people who want keto (or keto-ish) options. Customers select a plan that is either Keto-specific, Calorie Smart, Chef’s Choice, or Vegan & Veggie to align with what they’re interested in. We did notice that the website states there are paleo options, but we didn’t see this as a tag on any meals and it’s not offered as a plan.
Factor also asks how many meals are desired per week, ranging from four to 18. There is a rotating weekly menu and a variety of add-ons, but no customization is available. Customers need only choose their delivery date and meal selections, making it a low-maintenance option. Factor recommends eating meals within a week, and each comes date-stamped for optimal consumption.
Factor’s weekly menus are developed by chefs and dietitians, geared toward specific higher fat and protein nutrition profiles, and mostly follow a protein-side-sauce format. While there are quite a few options to choose from each week, there is a lot of repetition among ingredients and flavor profiles.
Meals arrive fresh, never, frozen, and ready to be heated by microwave or oven. Factor’s food is prepared by a team of more than 15 culinarians on staff and is also monitored by culinary assurance and sustainability teams overseeing quality, food safety, and sourcing.
Choosing Meals: Decent Volume, Low Variety
The diet type that is selected when creating an account determines pre-selected menu recommendations, but Factor does allow customers to choose from meals outside of this category. So, those looking for keto meals could also select something plant-based if they choose. We like that this allows for more variety in the diet, as the guidelines of strict diets are not always ideal for long-term adherence.
Factor offers a Vegan & Veggie meal plan—although, with only four to six options per week, it seems like more of a flexitarian diet rather than a good option for folks who want to be primarily plant-based.
Each week, Factor’s menu includes 20+ entrees, about two to three breakfasts, and a few other add-ons across snacks and beverages. While this may sound like a lot, there is a fair amount of crossover among ingredients and flavor profiles between dishes. We also saw a lot of repeat dishes week over week and had a hard time choosing items we thought would offer something distinct.
Overall, the meal selection process is super simple, especially with no customization or upgrades available. Simply choose what looks good from the menu up to the number of meals per week you’ve got on your plan, and get your add-ons. We do recommend looking to choose your meals earlier rather than later though, as some items can sell out.
What We Made
We ordered the minimum quantity of six items, ensuring that we tried out a combination of meals across proteins, diet options, and flavor profiles. We based our review around five of these entrees:
- Keto Monterey spinach chicken, sun-dried tomato alfredo, & cauliflower gratin
- Italian roasted pork with roasted broccolini
- Keto turkey chili & zucchini with ancho lime crema
- Chickpea curry with forbidden black rice
- Taco bowl & corn salsa, jalapeno cilantro crema
Packaging: Mostly Plastic, Standard Amount
Factor meals arrive in fairly standard packaging, both in material and quantity. This service uses mainly plastic packaging, with some cardboard, and across the meals we ordered and the delivery itself, we had a total of 26 individual pieces of packaging.
Our delivery arrived packed in a cardboard box with plastic-wrapped fabric insulation and one large ice pack to hold everything cold. The ice pack can be drained and the plastic recycled at a specialty recycling facility.
Each individual meal is packaged in a plastic tray with a plastic film, inside of a cardboard sleeve. Meals that are accompanied by an extra sauce include a small plastic cup inside of the meal, with additional plastic film. Cardboard pieces can be recycled as well as rigid plastics. However, the plastic films couldn’t be recycled in our area.
Customer Support: Free Dietitian Support
Within the delivery itself, there are no additional support materials that come along with the meals. Since the service only offers heat-and-eat meals, support materials don’t seem like a necessity. However, if customers are looking for extra help, there are a few spaces where that can be found virtually, especially with regard to nutrition.
For general questions, Factor has an FAQ page and a few avenues to reach customer service, though you’ll only be able to receive support during business hours, on central time. We reached out with some simple questions related to the nutrition criteria, and while we spoke with friendly folks both by phone and live chat, neither was able to provide an answer. However, both directed us to use our free 20-minute session with the dietitian, which we do think would have helped answer our questions and is a great resource for customers to have access to.
Nutrition: Mostly Fat-Forward
To read Factor’s homepage, you might not get a clear picture of what the meals are going to look like, either in nutritional value or the composition of ingredients. While we won’t try to decode the use of vague “clean eating” and “free from fluff” phrases that are prevalent in Factor’s marketing, if you dig a little, you’ll find that Factor is about providing high-fat, high-protein, lower-carbohydrate options.
Factor clearly outlines its definition of ketogenic and keto-ish meals, which we appreciated and attribute to its use of registered dietitians. In accordance with those guidelines, you’ll find that Factor meals are heavy with fat and protein and usually paired with the predictable carbohydrate-substitute foods. Additional options consist of a Vegan & Veggie meal plan and a “Calorie Smart” choice that has a very loose definition of “around or less than 550 calories.
Unfortunately, no matter which plan or type of food you choose, you’re nearly always getting a keto-style meal, and we found this to be rigid and repetitive. It also leads to a scarcity of ingredients like whole grains, which are a source of fiber and certain nutrients. We certainly applaud the use of real experts and the level of information available to the customer (all nutrition and allergen information is very clearly labeled). Ultimately, Factor might not make sense as a singular source of meals, given that one can only eat so much cauliflower and celery root puree.
The Cooking Process: Easily Reheated Meals
Factor provides two different sets of instructions for its heat-and-eat meals, for the microwave and the oven. We tried both methods and felt each would be easy to execute and yielded equally good results.
While you’re likely to end up with an evenly heated meal no matter which method you choose, we do think a lot of this comes down to the menu options. None of the factor meals promised crispy or crunchy textures that would benefit from oven reheating vs. microwave, which is a smart choice—but it also somewhat limits your eating experience.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Delicious Flavor, but Repetitive
As with all prepared meals, there is no real room to doctor up recipes and enhance flavors during the cooking process. Fortunately, Factor delivers on flavors without needing any extra help. Meals were all well-seasoned, flavorful, and made smart use of ingredients knowing these meals are designed to be reheated. There was no sad, mushy breading where you had hoped for a crisp exterior.
While the meals tasted very good, they did pack an inescapable heaviness from rich sauces and a very comfort-food approach to menuing. Think meat and potatoes, except in this case, meat and cauliflower. We also found the menus and ingredients to be repetitive, across meals and across weeks. While everything was of quality, the type of food didn’t necessarily lend itself to feeling “fresh”.
As we evaluated the ingredient use, we also looked for sourcing information. Factor proudly declares the use of grass-fed, pasture-raised, and antibiotic- and hormone-free ingredients on its menus and packaging. We loved being able to view this on each dish as we chose them, but would have liked a bit more information on sourcing. Factor provides substantial detail on its standards (present and future) for chicken, listing its goals for chicken welfare by 2024 to 2026, but not for really any other ingredients. As this is so central to the brand, it would be great to show it off.
Factor Is Good For
Factor works great for folks who want robust flavors with comfort food feels in high-fat and high-protein nutrition profiles. However, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend Factor to those who have specific needs in their fat, cholesterol, and/or sodium intakes. We also think it could work for individuals or couples, rather than larger families or groups, as the meals start at $11 each.
You’ll find that Factor meals are heavy with fat and protein, and usually paired with the predictable carbohydrate-substitute foods.
The Competition: Factor vs. Freshly
Both Factor and Freshly offer heat-and-eat meals that hover around a similar price point and cater to specialized diets. Ultimately, we felt Factor meals were better on flavors, but you may find your ideal meals from either service as these services prioritize different dietary needs as well as different approaches to menus.
While both services offer vegan and vegetarian choices, Factor looks to provide meals for the keto crowd and is a general calorie-conscious choice, while Freshly primarily focuses on gluten-free and “FreshlyFit” meals. Factor has a weekly rotating menu of options, but with about 29 choices and fairly repetitive items and ingredients. Freshly, on the other hand, has a static menu week over week, but it has more than 40 meals to choose from.
Factor hits its aim as a source for delicious, keto-style meals, and while it may not be short on flavor or fat, it does leave something to be desired in variety. Without additional options across flavors, ingredients, and nutrition, we’re not sure it works as a long-term, consistent solution to the question of what’s for dinner.
We ordered, cooked, and evaluated meals from 27 meal delivery services to get a sense of each one’s offerings, nutrition profiles, prices, and, of course, flavors. We contacted the customer service teams at each of the companies, collected data, and wrote detailed reviews about each one.
Our writers are all registered dietitians and relied on their research and its resulting data to inform their reviews.