I'm not going to beat around the bush about this. As a food lover and editor, married to a man who stores five types of animal fat in mason jars in our fridge at any given time, I thought that I was too good for meal kits and fully prepared food delivery services. There, I said it.
Then the pandemic happened, and it did something irrevocable to my brain. It changed the way I view my time, my priorities and my mental health. I've always loved to eat, but do I love texting, "What's for dinner?" "I dunno?" back and forth forever? Hell no! Do I also enjoy fighting over whose turn it is to do the dishes or go to the grocery store? No, ma'am!
So, in January 2023, I was given the chance to try two weeks of Factor meals, a range of ready-made, individually packaged chef-driven dinners, delivered directly to your door. I said yes in a heartbeat.
Factor meals: First impressions
The goods arrived in a box on my doorstep with some rather hefty packaging and ice packs, with enough ready meals for my first week (the second arrived a week later). The boxes themselves have some minimal Factor branding on the sleeve, which, when slipped off, reveal a range of meals like blackened salmon, vegetable ratatouille, and creamy tomato and herb turkey ragu.
Factor meals are divided into two sections. A larger section houses the protein (or main) portion of the meal while a smaller section contains a vegetable side, like zucchini noodles and herbed ricotta. Some meals have an accompanying sauce which needs to be removed first, but otherwise, simply throw them into the microwave for 2-3 minutes, et voilà. Dinner is served.
Despite Factor's commentary about their "fresh, never-frozen" meals emblazoned over its packaging, I had too many to store in my fridge. I split the difference, between there and my freezer, leaving myself enough meals to cover dinner for the next few evenings.
Factor meals: The best part
This should not be understated, so I'll say it upfront: Factor meals are flavourful and super tasty. I definitely had my faves — grilled chicken parmesan, I'm looking at you — but there truly wasn't a bad meal across my two-week stint. I also didn't feel like I was missing out too much on carbohydrates, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed the veggie substitutes like parmesan-buttered zucchini (okay, the parmesan may have had something to do with it).
The chef's touch made these meals feel fancy and fun, but I never felt like I was eating badly — and given that Factor is dietician-approved, it makes sense. My favourite thing, though, was the freedom to pull a ready-to-rock meal out of the fridge (or freezer, sorry Factor) at a moment's notice. I was less grumpy and had more time for things like yoga and reading in my precious downtime. And, I experienced (relative) marital peace.
Another plus is the ability to select how many meals you want a week (from six to 18) and pause, cancel or change your plan whenever.
Factor meals: The worst part
I have to admit, sometimes, I was a little hungry afterwards. Factor meals definitely provide an adequate lunch, but if have a healthy appetite like me, you may find yourself snacking on toast later in the evening. If you're using Factor as a way to cut down calories, that may not be the move. However, if convenience and flavourful meals are the goal, you've come to the right place.
Some of the meals were labelled keto, so you'll find plenty of meat, fish, cheese and healthy fats, but carbs are in low supply. If you have digestive issues, or any other underlying conditions that would be negatively impacted by a keto diet, these meals may not be for you. However, for me, a person in a committed relationship with carbs, I didn't mind taking a break.
From $12 a meal, it's definitely not the cheapest meal plan on the market. However, the ingredients are good quality, and I do appreciate the lack of food waste — there was no throwing a full bag of spinach away at the end of the week.
Factor meals: The verdict
Unlike meal plan kits which can often require a bonkers amount of chopping and, ahem, cooking, Factor is above all, a delicious timesaver. Their antibiotic, refined-sugar-free meals are delivered on a weekly basis, but if you're still tight for fridge space, I found these meals microwaved well from frozen. While I probably wouldn't rely on these for a regular subscription, the occasional order of Factor meals would be a real life raft on busy weeknights.
And, as lovely as they look plated, I ate almost all of my meals straight from the container for the ultimate ease. And (I'm not proud about this), often licked it clean.