Factor, also known as "Factor75," is one of the most popular meal delivery services in the U.S., and the brand is focused on healthy meals. Consumers are able to pick between 30 “dietitian-designed” meals every week, and Factor describes their meals as “Healthy Eating, Made Easy” because all users have to do is heat them up.
But are Factor meals really healthier than cheaper alternatives like Hello Fresh? Do they contain any unhealthy added ingredients? What is the true cost of a month’s worth of Factor meals? And how do real users rate the taste of Factor meals?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review the ingredients in Factor’s current weekly menu to give our take on whether they’re healthy or not, and share a real user review of the meal delivery service.
We’ll also give our take on Factor’s “Keto” meals and break down the true cost of this service.
The ingredient list above is from Factor’s Creamy Pesto Pork Chop.
While it does contain some nutrient-dense whole food ingredients like olive oil, onions and almond flour, there are a number of ingredients we consider questionable from a health perspective.
The preservative calcium propionate was shown in a clinical trial to cause irritability, restlessness, sleep disorders and attention issues in children. We haven’t come across any research suggesting the same effects in adults, but this study underlines why we recommend avoiding food preservatives altogether.
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 appears to cause inflammatory reactions in a small subset of individuals, as we documented in our article on another meal plan called ProLon that we recently reviewed.
Factor makes no mention of whether their animal products or dairy are sourced from grass-fed animals, so we will assume they are not. An extensive 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).
The good thing for consumers on a ketogenic (“keto”) diet is that the majority of Factors meals contain under 20 grams (g) of carbohydrates (many containing around 10 g), so this meal service should be effective as part of a keto diet and this isn’t just a marketing claim. Most keto diets restrict carb intake to under 50 g per day.
Overall we’re unimpressed with Factor’s ingredients. While their 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 due to the questionable additive ingredients.
Real User Reviews Factor Meals
One of the most popular YouTube reviews of Factor meals is published by a creator called Miss Sarah E K. She reviews the pros and cons of Factor and does taste tests:
High Sodium Content
Most Factor meals contain higher sodium levels than we’ve seen in other meal delivery services.
While individuals on a keto diet may require higher sodium intake, we believe this is worth being aware of because high sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease according to medical research.
The Keto Mushroom Burger contains 920 milligrams (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 consuming meals this high in sodium.
Many YouTube reviewers were adding sauces to the meals, which would add more sodium.
How Much Do Factor Meals Really Cost?
The Factor website advertises that their meal plan is “starting at $11 per meal.”
But is this the true cost? And does Factor ship enough meals for an entire week’s worth of food?
On the cheapest plan of four meals per week, each meal costs $15, plus shipping. The most expensive plan of 18 meals per week breaks down to $11 per meal, plus shipping. It is unclear from Factor’s website how much the average shipping rate is.
For 18 meals per week, Factor charges $198, plus shipping. That equates to a monthly cost of $792 plus four shipping charges. We consider this to be a very expensive plan, especially given that the animal products don’t even appear to be sourced from grass-fed animals (which is more expensive).
For $800 per month we believe that consumers could get better nutrition than this.
Health and Environmental Issues Of 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 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.
Real Customer Complaints
There are a number of customer complaints on Factor’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) page. This isn’t surprising for a company as popular as Factor, but it is concerning in our opinion that so many of these complaints 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’s customer review rating on the BBB site is only 1.21 out of 5 stars.
Our Meal Delivery Service Recommendation
The meal delivery service we recommend, both from a health and environmental perspective, is Daily Harvest.
This is the healthiest meal delivery service that we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health, as all of their meals are made from plant-based, whole foods ingredients. Their smoothies provide a wide variety of nutrient-dense plants, including acai, dragon fruit, papaya and much more.
They also sell bowls, bakes, flatbreads, soups and much more.
As important as the nutritional quality is that Daily Harvest meals are packaged in paper, cardboard and aluminum. A few of their products contain a plastic seal (which we hope they can find a way to remove in the future), but this is the meal delivery service with the least plastic that we’ve reviewed.
Interested consumers can use code “ILLUMINATE” to get up to $40 off their order, and can check out Daily Harvest at this link to their site.