I’m trying Factor meal service in an attempt to eat healthier

Packaged foods sent directly to home help benefit my MS dietary needs

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by Ed Tobias |

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My wife hates to cook, except for a big Thanksgiving turkey. I don’t know how to cook, except for scrambled eggs or meat on a grill.

So for many years, our meals have pretty much been restaurant (eat-in or carry-out), ready-to-heat from the grocery store, frozen (lasagna or pizza), and, for my wife, microwaveable Keto diet food. It’s not very healthy, and probably worse for someone with multiple sclerosis (MS).

At our yearly physicals, our primary care physician suggested a meal delivery plan called Factor. A number of precooked meals are delivered once a week, shipped surrounded by recyclable cooler packs. The meals are not frozen.

We thought we’d give Factor a try, taking advantage of an offer of 50% off our first box and 20% off the following four. (Note: I’m not getting anything in exchange for writing this column, and I have no connection with Factor beyond being a customer.)

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Ordering and preparation

The ordering and prep processes are simple: I use the company’s app to select from a menu of about 35 meals, which change slightly each week. Each meal is labeled as “Protein plus” (with 30 grams of protein or more), “Calorie smart” (550 calories or less), “Keto” (low carbohydrate and high fat), or “Vegan + veggie” (without meat). Some meals fall into more than one category, and you can choose whatever mix you like.

Clicking a picture of each meal on the app menu gives you a full list of its ingredients, and I’ve found no preservatives or anything artificial listed. There’s also nutrition information, such as calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, fiber, and sodium, for each meal.

Meals I’ve tried include smoky barbecue chicken with mashed potatoes and creamed corn, black pepper and sage pork chop with smoked cheddar Brussels sprouts, and Indian butter chicken with lime cauliflower “rice.” Two of my favorites have been jalapeño-lime cheddar chicken with spicy cauliflower “rice” and herb-peppercorn filet mignon with sweet corn risotto (though that meal costs extra).

Each meal needs only two or two and a half minutes on high in the microwave, start to finish. (You can also cook the meals in an oven for about seven minutes, but I didn’t notice any difference when I tried that.) The filet and the chicken were both unexpectedly tender and moist, considering that they were microwave meals. I didn’t need a sharp knife to cut any of the meals.

I like to eat — a lot. Ready-to-heat meals that I’ve bought in the supermarket have failed to fill me. The Factor meals, surprisingly, have left me satisfied.

Diet and MS

Some people with MS praise the Wahls or Swank diets, but according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there is no “best” MS diet. Generally, neurologists recommend a balanced diet that’s heavy on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while light on processed foods, fats, and refined sugars. A recent Danish study reported a diet rich in plant products reduced MS symptoms; eating more red meat made them worse.

Of course, doing the cooking yourself requires shopping and meal prep, two things that my wife and I want to avoid. By making selective meal choices with Factor, it’s probably possible to follow those diet guidelines. The company even offers a free, 20-minute coaching session with a dietitian to help.

Several other companies offer home delivery of “meals in a box.” NBC News recently reviewed several, and many of those might also fill the balanced diet bill.

Factor isn’t perfect

There are a few things I don’t like about Factor.

Its box of eight meals weighs about 20 pounds, primarily because of its large cold packs. I have trouble picking it up.

Factor does a good job of sealing each meal with a film, but it’s so good that the film can be hard to remove after the meal is heated. This issue would be especially hard for someone whose MS has left them with hand dexterity or feeling problems.

And there’s Factor’s price. Most meals cost about $12 each, but some “gourmet plus” selections are priced at about double that. Shipping adds a little over a dollar to the cost of each meal.

All in all though, Factor provides tasty meals that are ready to eat in minutes, at a price for two meals that’s only a little more than the cost of having a large meat-lovers pizza delivered. And it’s a lot healthier for us.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Kathy Allen avatar

Kathy Allen

Hi Ed, I am trying to find a past article of yours that I thought I had saved to reread with more time!! Can't find it, it was on bladder, maybe two weeks ago? your articles are certainly relevant!! Is there a way that I could read it again?
Thanks lots, Kathy

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Allison Morgan avatar

Allison Morgan

Multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com > Columns > The MS Wire - A Column by Ed Tobias > July 14, 2023 Bottoms Up: Why I’m Drinking More Water Because Of My MS

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Kathy,

Was it this one, from two weeks ago? https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/columns/the-ms-wire/2023/07/14/bottoms-up-why-im-drinking-more-water-because-ms/

Ed

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Ra avatar

Ra

I am putting in a good word for the Instant Pot- you can make really healthy meals that generate leftovers with very little prep time at a much lower cost. You can even throw frozen poultry in there and it comes out tender as can be. This helps immensely with the challenge of planning ahead. Having leftovers on hand also leads to much healthier eating and saves time.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for that info, Ra.

Ed

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MADELINE NEWTON avatar

MADELINE NEWTON

sounds great ...i am going to see if it is offered here ...thank you ...

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

If you try it drop another comment and let me know what you think. I've had three weeks worth of meals, now, and I'm very pleased.

Ed

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Laurie Warner avatar

Laurie Warner

I am also eating Factor. I find the meals are tasty and there is a lot of variety. My major complaint is the price, but you get what you pay for. I have tried other meal deliveries and they are definitely not as good. Like anything, you get tired of the same flavors. I find Trader Joe’s meals to be tasty and reasonably priced. I just switch it around to keep the taste buds and the pocketbook happy.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Laurie,

That's my feeling about almost everything...you get what you pay for. Just hope I can keep paying for it! Thanks for the TJ's tip.

Ed

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