In partnership with Factor.
Earlier this year, my mom embarked upon a self-administered "mental fitness" bootcamp called 75 Hard. The rules were as extensive as they were strict: in addition to hydration and reading quotas, she had to work out twice a day (once inside, once outside) while following a regimented diet of her choice. Eventually the program wore her down and she had to throw in the towel, but it wasn't the constant scheduling of workouts that did it…
It was the dietary portion. When life gets that busy, and full of so many rigors, the last thing you want to have to worry about is cooking macro-friendly meals from scratch. She told me, "I just couldn't face down cooking one more chicken breast with brown rice"... to which I would now respond, "Then don't. Just try Factor."
For many reasons, Factor is the most ideal meal kit delivery service for those with nutrition and fitness in mind. While every meal kit speaks to "convenience" as a key value point, Factor's meals can be reheated in a matter of minutes, taking even the burden of prep work away. More than that, they arrive fresh, never frozen, and chef-prepared for the maximum nutritional impact. It's the dietary guide that requires no heavy lifting (so you can save your lifting for the bench press or squat pack).
While the single-serving meal sizes may not make it a fit for large families, that posed no challenge for me, so I decided to give Factor the plunge. And while I didn't start crushing two workouts a day – I like to set realistic goals here – I was able to focus on so much else in my day with all the saved time that Factor afforded me.
- Pre-made meals that are ready in minutes, yet still preserve both texture and flavor
- Compatible with a wide range of diets, including calorie and/or macronutrient concerns
- Meats are pasture-raised or grass-fed, seafood is certified sustainable, and all ingredients in general are of very high quality
We don't like
- The quality and convenience comes with a higher price tag
- Single-serving meals narrows the customer base down and away from larger families
Pre-Made Meal Kit
Scanning through online recipes to decide what I'm shopping for at the store is one of my least favorite kinds of decision-making. Customizing my Factor meal delivery boxes, though, was like perusing a catalog come Christmas-time. The first step in putting together your factor subscription is choosing from one of eight meal preferences: Chef's Choice, Keto, Calorie Smart, Flexitarian, Protein Plus, or Vegan & Veggie. While the contents of many of those goes without saying, it's helpful to note that the Calorie Smart meals clock in at 550 calories or less, and the Protein Plus meals exceed 30 grams of protein.
As someone who's always trying to incorporate more veggies into my diet, without fully saying goodbye to my beloved proteins, I opted to go the Flexitarian route. I then chose my preferred number of meals for the week, which as mentioned before were all entirely single-serving, with no option given for multiple members in the household. The meals per week numbers skewed higher than other services, with a minimum of 6 meals (at $13.49 each) and a max of 18 (which cost $10.99 each). This puts the total cost of each box somewhere between $80.94 and $197.82 depending on your inputs, though Factor regularly offers discounts on the first five boxes like this TQE-exclusive code, TQE50OFF for 50% off your first box and 20% off the next 4 boxes.
Then last but certainly not least came the selection of the meals themselves — and whatever part of me expected bland, unseasoned "health food" couldn't have been further from the truth.
GETTING FLEXI WITH IT
As a newly-minted Flexitarian, I had my pick of both carnivorous and veggie-focused meals to choose from. This meant that Truffle Butter Filet Mignon with Potato-Leek Mash & Roasted Carrots stood side by side with Vegan Mushroom Marsala with Onion Risotto & Roasted Garlic Green Beans. I'd been more and more curious about trying a part-time plant-based diet like Mark Bittman's Vegan Before 6:00PM (or VB6), so I chose plant-based lunches and protein-packed dinners to give myself the best of both worlds.
On especially packed work days, I felt no shame in turning to Factor for both lunch and dinner. Recently I heated up their Vegan Mushroom Marsala for a mid-day break, and then looked forward to the Chimichurri Filet Mignon and Shrimp for dinner. As someone who logs my meals in a workout app for accountability, I was also stoked to see that all of Factor's meals are loaded into systems like MyFitnessPal. Each meal also comes with a full ingredient list (which is blessedly but unsurprisingly free of additives and stabilizers), allergen warnings, and heating instructions for both microwaves and conventional ovens. And unlike frozen meals, where the time difference between the microwave and the oven can span 45 minutes, even an oven-heated Factor meal is ready in 10 or less.
Perhaps best of all, the meals come in flat, stackable containers, making them easy to nest in the fridge. It's meal prep for those of us who never mastered meal prep, and when the flavor and texture of each meal is this on-point, it feels so much fresher and livelier than just heating up leftovers.
ADD AND ALTER AS YOU SEE FIT
That said, many of us (myself included) still enjoy working away in the kitchen – which is why it's worth taking advantage of Factor's customization. When work slows down and I'm ready to whip up my dinners again, I can reduce my number of Factor meals to cover my lunches instead. There are all kinds of other add-ons too, from pre-made breakfasts (because who doesn't prefer sleeping in?) to smoothie variety packs and keto-friendly shakes. Those kinds of health-conscious solutions for snacking between meals make it easier to stick to a regimented program, instead of melting down on the nearest bag of chips because the 3pm hangries set in.
All of the above options are just the tip of the iceberg, since Factor's menu rotates weekly and always comes with new surprises. Whether you're looking to go paleo, plant-based, high-protein — or simply want a break from your stovetop — I can attest to how much simpler and healthier Factor made my weeknight eating.