Review: Three Pros of the Factor Meals Subscription — & Three Cons

My husband and I have been subscribed to the Factor meal service for a couple of months. Thanks to a sign-up special, which doled out around $150 worth of credits over the first five orders, our first order of eight meals was $62.95. Without discounts, it comes out to $103.92, which is $12.99 per meal — perhaps more expensive than home cooking or fast food, depending on what’s eaten, but decidedly less costly than most sit-down restaurant meals.

It’s largely been an enjoyable experience, but not problem-free. For aesthetics, if you’re having a Factor meal at home, I strongly recommend putting the contents on a real plate. It’s more appealing than eating out of the plastic box. On the other hand, the Factor meals have been perfect for my husband to just grab one out of the fridge and take it to work for lunch. If you have a busy lifestyle and would benefit from a meal subscription service, here are the pros and cons of Factor.

Factor's Cajun-Spiced Salmon and Shrimp with broccoli looks a bit better on a plate than in the box
Factor’s Cajun-Spiced Salmon and Shrimp with cauliflower risotto and broccoli looks a bit better on a plate than in the box. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Pros of the Factor Meal Subscription Service

  • Good Meal Ideas And Enjoyable Flavors: Most of Factor’s meals have been quite tasty and a good combination of dishes. The Vegan Mushroom Marsala with onion risotto and garlicky green beans is outstanding. It’s remarkable how much flavor and texture is in this 390-calorie meal. It’s not going to win any beauty contests either in the tray or on a plate, but it sure is tasty.
  • No Prep Means Ideal for Fast Meals or Grab-And-Go Lunches: Unlike certain other meal subscriptions that come as kits that you prep and put together at home, Factor only deals in heat-and-eat meals. This has made it super-convenient for my husband to grab a box out of the fridge and take it to work. I also make a point of stocking him up with these when I have to leave town for a week. Most are microwavable in two to three minutes.
  • Mostly Healthy: Most of the Factor meals are reasonable on calories and sodium, and fairly high in fiber. Due to some recent health issues that require ongoing vigilance, when ordering meals, I have to look at the sodium and fiber content, and my nutritionist recommended Factor among a few other services. The aforementioned Vegan Mushroom Marsala is low on calories, and has 5 grams of fiber. That particular meal is a little high on sodium: 890 milligrams, or 36.5% of the recommended daily value. Other meals are not that high — and all are a far cry less than many of the fresh-prep meals from the other service I am using, Home Chef, which has meals with as much as 1,800 milligrams of sodium. Taking another example of a Factor meal that I have ordered more than once: the Jalapeño-Lime-Cheddar Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Cauliflower “Rice” has a slightly lower 720 milligrams of sodium with 3 grams of dietary fiber at 660 calories. 
Factor's Vegan Mushroom Marsala with onion risotto and garlicky green beans
Factor’s Vegan Mushroom Marsala with onion risotto and garlicky green beans is not going to win any beauty contest, but it sure is tasty. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Cons of the Factor Meal Subscription Service

  • Unreliable Deliveries: This is the first negative — and it’s a biggie. I have been a subscriber for only two months and have twice not received my orders on the scheduled delivery date. The first time was the initial order. It showed up the following morning which was not a huge deal, and Factor gave me a $10 credit for the inconvenience. However, my order last week did not show up for two days. This was a big problem, as we were relying on those meals for lunches. We weren’t planning on cooking in the evenings, either, but we pivoted and made a big batch of spaghetti so we would have something to nosh on while we were waiting for the order.

    Factor’s customer service did entirely refund the order — which was good because when it arrived, I checked the temperature of a meal at the top of the box and one at the bottom of the box. The top meal was 65° F and the bottom one was 55° F. These had started to enter the temperature danger zones for food. The problem had something to do with the third-party delivery service. Factor ended up swapping to UPS for my delivery — and it still arrived too late. If this happens again, I am likely to cancel my membership and try and find a comparable service.
  • No Freshly Prepared Ingredients: The same thing that makes Factor such a great choice for lunches and other quick meals is also a downside for dinners. When it comes to the evening meal, I want to eat fresh vegetables, Not reheated ones.
  • Reheating Can Be Annoying: In the time that it takes to get the main course on the big side of the tray up to temperature, the side dishes in the smaller compartments turn into lava. The only solution I can think of is to microwave the contents until the side dishes make it to 165° F, peel back the plastic wrap from the top, remove them to a plate, then continue heating the main course up to the proper temperature.

Favorite Factor Meals & More

Ginger Tofu Grain Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce from the Factor meal subscription service
Ginger Tofu Grain Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce from the Factor meal subscription service. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Here are some other meals we enjoy in addition to the Vegan Mushroom Marsala and Jalapeño-Lime-Cheddar Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Cauliflower “Rice” mentioned above.

  • Ground Beef & Thyme Cottage Pie with Parmesan-Buttered Zucchini: This has all of the appeal of the comfort food classic and little of the guilt. It has 570 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 910 milligrams of sodium, which is a little high. The thyme flavor really comes through and even the zucchini is well seasoned, although I still like mixing it in with everything else.
  • Creamy Whole-Grain Mustard Pork Chop with Braised Cabbage & Browned Butter Carrots: Factor tends to do a really good job with carrots, and in this case, these are a great bonus along with these substantially sized pork chop. The cabbage complements the pork chop and lends a great deal of fiber to the meal. It ends up at 5 grams. There are only 560 calories and 900 milligrams of sodium — again, a little high.
  • Blackened Salmon with Smoked Gouda Cauliflower “Grits” & Broccoli: Subscription plan meals often tend to be a little on the boring side when it comes to spices, so the little kick from the blackening seasoning on the salmon is quite welcome. It’s rare that I make cauliflower grits on my own, but these Gouda-infused ones have made me a fan. The broccoli seems to be there mainly to make sure you get your greens. This meal weighs in at 620 cal, 6 g of fiber and 870 mg of sodium. 
  • Ginger Tofu Grain Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce: This is my new favorite thing, and it is perfect for summer. This is a fresh mix of five-spice-seasoned tofu cubes, edamame, roasted red and green cabbage and shredded carrots on top of quinoa and garnished with chili peanuts. The peanut sauce comes alongside and is enjoyable, but the salad hardly needs it. Bonus: it’s intended to be eaten cold. You don’t even have to heat it, although I suppose you could. Oddly, you will not find the grain bowl selections among the meal choices. These are listed among the add-ons under “Lunch-To-Go”. During the warm months, especially, I think these should be listed among the regular meal choices.
  • Cayenne Cleanse Wellness Shots: These little two-ounce bottles contain a mix of apple juice, ginger juice, lemon juice and cayenne. I’m dubious about the “wellness” claim. One provides 4% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C, but other than that, it’s hard to say if there are other benefits. I ordered them because they sounded tasty, and I was tempted by the kick of ginger and cayenne. I gave one to my husband, we downed them, and they were every bit as fun and enjoyable as I’d hoped. That said: they are also expensive. A six-pack is $23.99, so that’s about $4 a pop. Factor also offers protein shakes and the like, but I tend to focus on the meals.

Least-Favorite Factor Meals

We enjoyed the vast majority of the meals that we’ve ordered, but there have been a few misses — and both are breakfast dishes.

  • Everything-Seasoned Gravy & Bacon Scramble. The dish hit its goal of being reminiscent of biscuits and gravy minus the biscuits (good for carb-cutters). The flavor was great, but the dish uses liquid whole eggs, so the texture was both soft and oddly nubby from the sausage bits and the gravy. I’m not sure that I’d order this again. It clocked in at 510 calories, 780 milligrams of sodium and 2 grams of fiber.
  • Pancakes & Sausage with Cinnamon Butter & Maple Syrup: This included chicken sausage breakfast patties, and other than being a little dense, these had good sage flavor and were enjoyable. The pancakes, however, were a horror, and even the cinnamon butter and real maple syrup could not save them. All of Factor’s meals are gluten-free, so the pancakes were made with rice flour. The texture was unpleasantly gummy. Never again. Factor needs to send this one back to the food lab.

For me, the pros of Factor outweigh the cons. For the foreseeable future, I will remain a customer unless they blow it big on a delivery again. I hope they don’t, because I would like to keep it around.

Factor regularly offers me free trial boxes and discount deals to share with others. If you are interested in a trial box (first-come, first-served and dependent on availability), you are welcome to email me

Disclosure: if you use the deals links above for Factor or Home Chef, I may also receive a credit. 

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