Factor, also known as "Factor 75," is one of the most popular meal delivery services in the U.S., and the brand markets itself as a healthy option. Factor customers choose between 30 “dietitian-designed” meals every week, and Factor describes their service as “Healthy Eating, Made Easy.”
But are Factor meals really healthier than cheaper alternatives like Hello Fresh? Does Factor use any unhealthy ingredients? What's the true cost of a month’s worth of Factor meals? And how do real users rate the taste and overall product experience of Factor?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Factor meals to give our take on whether or not the brand is healthy.
We'll feature unsponsored Factor customer reviews, discuss the true cost of a month's worth of Factor meals, and compare the cost of Factor to other popular meal delivery services.
We'll also share our concerns about Factor's packaging, discuss the sodium content in Factor meals, and feature a video comparing Factor to homemade cooking.
The ingredient list above is from Factor’s Creamy Pesto Pork Chop.
Olive oil, onions and almond flour are nutrient-dense whole food ingredients, but there are a number of ingredients in this meal that may be questionable from a health perspective.
Calcium propionate is a preservative that was shown in a clinical trial to cause irritability, restlessness, sleep disorders and attention issues in children.
Natural flavorings is a broad descriptor that could refer to a wide range of chemical compounds, and a study published in the Toxicology Research journal documented toxicity concerns with some flavoring compounds.
Citric acid is another preservative ingredient (sometimes used as a flavor enhancer) that is shown to cause inflammatory reactions in some individuals, as we documented in our article on another meal plan called ProLon that we recently reviewed.
Factor fails to clarify on all recipes whether the animal products are sourced from grass-fed animals (although grass-fed beef is mentioned in some recipes).
A 2019 medical review published in 2019 found that grass-fed animal products are richer in important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and may reduce inflammation compared to eating animal products sourced from conventionally-raised animals (which tend to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids).
Factor may be a good option for consumers on a ketogenic (“keto”) diet, because the majority of Factor meals provide under 20 grams (g) of carbohydrates (many containing around 10 g).
Most keto diets restrict carb intake to under 50 g per day.
Overall we’re unimpressed with Factor’s ingredients. While the meals are likely to be healthier than what the average American is eating, because they contain vegetables, we do not believe this service is worth the price and would not recommend it from a nutritional perspective.
Is Factor Overpriced?
The Factor website advertises that their meal plan is “starting at $11 per meal.”
That figure is not accurate when factoring in the $10.99 shipping fee, which brings the cheapest meal plan to a base rate of $11.60 at the time of updating this article.
On the cheapest plan of six meals per week, each meal costs $15.32 when factoring in shipping fees.
Here's how Factor's best-case-scenario pricing compares to other popular meal delivery services on a per-meal basis:
Blue Apron: $10.59
Blue Apron currently has a better price than Factor, but most of the meal delivery service brands are priced in a narrow range.
Real People Try Factor
A YouTube creator named "Miss Sarah E K" reviews the pros and cons of Factor and shares her thoughts on the taste of the meals in a video with over 160,000 views:
A TikTok creator named Jojo Hadid claims to have had a bad experience with Factor's customer service:
@iamjojohadid @Factor_ ive been hung up on twice by your customer service when i asked for a refund. You can refund me by purchasing this review as an ad! Thanks🙃 #mealprep #mealprepping #mealprepweightloss #healthyeating #factormeals ♬ original sound - J O J O H A D I D 💕
Is Factor's Sodium Content an Issue?
Most Factor meals contain higher sodium levels than we’ve observed from other meal delivery brands.
While individuals on a keto diet may require higher sodium intake, we believe the sodium content in Factor is worth being aware of because high sodium intake may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease according to a meta-study published in the Nutrients journal.
According to the above-linked study, every 1,000 milligrams (mg) of dietary sodium increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 6%.
Factor's Keto Mushroom Burger contains 920 mg of sodium, the Keto Chorizo Chili contains 970 mg of sodium and the Santa Fe Beef Bowl contains 910 mg of sodium.
We don’t believe that the relationship between sodium and heart disease is as causative and simple as mainstream health media makes it out to be, but we do think it would be worthwhile for anyone with pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure to speak with their doctor before regularly consuming meals this high in sodium.
Many YouTube reviewers were adding sauces to the meals, which would add more sodium.
Factor vs. Homemade Cooking
A YouTube creator named Joey Suggs compared Factor meals against homemade cooking in a video with over 170,000 views:
Our Issue With Factor's Plastic Packaging
This is not something most consumers consider in our modern world, but regularly eating foods packaged in plastic may have negative health consequences.
Factor meals are packaged in plastic containers, which may leach harmful plasticizing compounds into food which are then eaten by the consumer.
A medical review published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal found that plastic products leach toxic chemicals into food or water under realistic use scenarios.
We also know from decades of scientific research that most plastics (whether recycled or not) end up in the ocean and in landfills, which is why we recommend that consumers avoid food products packaged in plastic as much as possible.
Customer Complaints About Factor
There are a number of customer complaints on Factor’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) page, and the company's average rating is currently only 1.14 out of 5 stars with over 300 total reviews.
What's concerning to us about these complaints is that many follow a similar theme: a customer being charged with the customer alleging that they did not agree to the charge.
A user named “Carol S” claims they were charged even after cancelling:
“If I could give this company NO stars, I would have done so. Do NOT give them your credit card info! It is WRONG that they require a credit card number BEFORE you are allowed to view their meal options.Even though I cancelled my subscription within MINUTES of giving them my card number, they still charged me and refuse to give a refund.”
Another user named “LISA M” complained of a similarly frustrating experience:
“On 10/13/22, four days after I visited their site, they had the nerve to charge my bank account for an order for $89.99! They were only able to do that because they still had my credit card information from when I previously used their service! I got online and ‘chatted’ with two of their reps (including a ‘supervisor’) immediately. They kept me online a long time acting like they were trying to resolve the issue, when it was clear they were not.”
Factor has responded to some, but not nearly all, of the complaints at the time of updating this article.
Our Clean Meal Delivery Pick
Trifecta Nutrition is our top meal delivery service pick because of its nutritious options.
Their meals are created by chefs, and most importantly, the meals are rich in vitamins and minerals because they're primarily made with vegetables and grass-fed meats.
Unlike most commercial meal plans, Trifecta doesn't use filler carbs for most of the calories.
Interested consumers can check out Trifecta Nutrition at this link to the product page on the brand's official website.
Pros and Cons of Factor
Here are the pros and cons of Factor 75 in our opinion:
- Most meals contain vegetables
- Healthier than average American diet
- Relatively affordable given product category
- Decent option for keto dieters
- Meals contain some nutritious ingredients
- Some recipes use grass-fed beef
- Some meals contain preservatives
- Some meals contain citric acid
- Some meals contain flavoring additives
- Many recipes fail to distinguish between pastured animal products and conventional animal products
- Low average rating on BBB website
- Packaged in plastic
- Relatively high in sodium