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Review: factor

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Someone holds ready-made food in a segmented black tray on a white plate

“You have to “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” That’s something a member of my family used to tell me when I was younger and insisted that I didn’t care about nutrition. I wanted to eat just for the taste of things. What did she do? mean Couldn’t I just eat French fries and black olives all day for the rest of my life?

He probably would have loved it. Factor.

This single-serving prepared meal delivery service is property of HelloFresh. They have plans that range 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 is a weekly rotating menu with 35 or more selections to choose from, plus several add-ons for things like breakfast and juice. You can select from different types of meals, such as keto, calorie-smart, vegetarian, and vegan. Factor (sometimes called Factor 75) places a lot of emphasis on health and nutrition in its marketing, and there are dietitians you can talk to for free to determine which meals to order. (Probably consult a real doctor if you’re considering changing your diet to meet a perceived need.)

I tried this service a few years ago for our meal kit subscription guide. Trying it a second time for this review, I was happy to find that the ready meals have improved…a little. But take those words with a grain of salt, because while it might be a good option for some people, I still can’t recommend the service.

Texture problems

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

Photography: 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 Filet Mignon, Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken, Louisiana Shrimp and the chicken risotto with tomato. 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 little bulky, so you’ll need to free up some refrigerator space.

I don’t have a microwave, so I heated each meal in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven (be sure to remove the plastic wrap first). And each one of them was… soft. I felt like a large baby, or like a pet that only eats various pâtés and pieces of meat. Even when the items tasted good, they still felt like porridge. Factor meals have always reminded me a little of sad airplane food.

The side dishes have improved tremendously since I last tried them; I would happily eat that tomato chicken risotto regularly. Most of the vegetables and sides had good texture and flavor. And every meal was super filling. But unfortunately, there is no way to enjoy a pre-cooked and reheated steak. The piece of meat that was supposed to be a filet mignon was mashed when I cut it. It crumbled in my mouth. And it knew and it felt like something Star TrekA prototype device had been instructed to replicate a steak: vague hints of pepper and caramelized meat, but served in such a way that no chewing was necessary.

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