Factor meals are a godsend for people who don’t have the time to cook nutritious meals for themselves. Just heat the pre-cooked meal and enjoy fresh and delicious recipes throughout the day! But when it comes to storage and the expiration date, Factor meals may require additional attention.
Can you eat factor meals after the expiration? Factor meals are designed to last up till the printed date on the back. Since these meals are not frozen and cooked fresh, they can only last a finite amount before they go bad. Ideally, you can eat a Factor meal 1-2 days past the expiry date but you should always inspect the meals before heating them!
Read below to learn more about Factor meals, how they are prepared, how they differ from other meal services, and how to get the most out of their shelf life.
What are Factor Meals?
Factor (previously known as Factor75), is a meal delivery service that focuses on providing its customers with pre-cooked and fresh meals that are ready to go.
Unlike other meal delivery services that sell frozen meals or individual ingredients that are intended to be cooked at home, Factor meals are all pre-measured and pre-cooked.
All you need to do is heat them in the oven or microwave and enjoy.
The company was founded by Nick Wernimont, an MMA fighter and trainer who focused on boosting his performance by tweaking his diet.
It didn’t take long until Nick decided to take this idea to the next level and prepare meals for a wide range of customers that simply did not have the time to cook.
Instead of ordering out or eating unhealthy junk food, people can now customize their meal plan and get nutritious and delicious meals that they can enjoy throughout the week – right at their doorstep.
Factor was acquired by HelloFresh, another meal delivery company that focuses on delivering individual ingredients that are meant to be cooked at home.
The difference between both services is that Factor meals are pre-cooked and refrigerated while HelloFresh provides individually frozen or refrigerated ingredients for meals.
Freezing can alter the quality of the ingredients and may even impact the flavor of the meals – and since the meals arrive in an insulated box, it is generally difficult to manage the quality of pre-cooked frozen meals!
How Factor Meal Plans Work
To get started, create an account at Factor and then finish your profile by filling out all the diet-related information.
This helps the company figure out your preferences and provide you with a meal plan that best suits your dietary needs.
Once the meal details are finalized, you can provide Factor with your address and delivery preferences.
Factor will then send out your selected meal plan for a week in an insulated cardboard box.
The box is covered with soft (and recyclable) insulating foam and ice packs that are required to be discarded separately.
The meals are stored in a flat plastic container that is divided into three portions.
It is important to note that Factor may also provide condiments with their meals depending on the dish.
All the meals are wrapped in a cardboard sleeve covered with nutritional and allergen information at the back.
Since Factor meals aren’t frozen, they are required to be refrigerated as soon as they are taken out of the box to retain maximum quality.
Preparing Factor Meals
Factor meals can be stored in the fridge at 40F for about 4-5 days.
These meals aren’t flash-frozen, as is a common practice for many meal delivery services that provide frozen meals to maintain their quality.
However, the process of flash-freezing can affect the quality of the meal, especially as it thaws, this is why Factor meals are prepared fresh and shipped the same day.
If you look closely at the bottom of the cardboard sleeve on each meal, you will find a “enjoy by” date.
This date shows how long you can leave the meal in the fridge while it still tastes fresh.
Most Factor meals are designed to be consumed within the week and you are not supposed to store them for longer than 6-7 days in the fridge.
As a general rule of thumb, try to consume all the meals before the next delivery, which typically takes place every subsequent week.
Here are a few tips on how to store and prepare Factor meals at home:
As we discussed above, as soon as you open the Factor meal box, you should take out all the meals and store them in the fridge. Please make sure that you store them at the back of the fridge at 40F for the best experience.
All factor meals are contained within a microwave-safe container with plastic wrapping on top to keep moisture and air away from the food.
We highly recommend that you store the meals in the same condition they arrive in. Tampering with the container or removing the top cover can drastically reduce the quality of the meal due to oxidization.
Preparing Factor Meals
When it’s time to eat your meal, simply take out a container from the fridge and heat it using either the microwave or oven method. Ideally, you would want to go with the microwave method as it is the quickest way to freshen up Factor meals.
To heat the meals in the microwave, simply poke a few holes on top of the plastic wrap to allow steam to escape, and then heat the container as it is.
Ideally, you would want to heat the meals for about 2-3 minutes or as specified at the back of the container.
Do not take out multiple meals and do not store the meals at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Please keep in mind that since these meals are not frozen, they are highly susceptible to spoilage at room temperature.
Factor meals are designed for one person and are meant to be consumed in one sitting, but if you can’t finish your meal then you can also store them back in the fridge.
To store leftover Factor meals, simply store them in the same container or use an airtight container to refrigerate the leftovers.
Factor meals can last up to 2-3 days in the fridge after they have been heated once.
We highly recommend that you reseal the meals using cling wrap or keep them in a separate airtight container for the best experience.
You can also freeze the meals in the freezer at 0F to increase their shelf life, but be warned, this method doesn’t work for every type of food and the quality of the meals may deteriorate after thawing.
Eating Factor Meals After Expiration – Sign of Spoilage
Factor meals can last up to 7 days in the fridge but you may be able to get an additional day or two out of their shelf life for some types of foods.
For example, vegetable-based recipes that don’t contain eggs or meat may be able to last longer in the fridge.
In some cases, you may even be able to consume pasta recipes, especially if they don’t contain heavy sauces.
But before you do this, we highly recommend that you look for a few obvious signs of spoilage before consuming expired Factor meals.
Here are the key signs to look out for that indicate spoilage:
Gas Build-up in Container
Factor meals are sealed using flexible plastic wrap.
If you notice a bulge, tightness, or bloatedness in the packaging then this would indicate spoilage as the bacteria have already compromised the food and are producing toxins that release gas.
Color Changes or Foul Odor
This is another obvious giveaway.
Remove the warping from the container and carefully inspect the food by whiffing it.
If you notice any sulfuric or foul odor, then the food will not be safe to eat.
If you notice color changes on the surface or around the food, then this will indicate spoilage as well.
Other indications like a loss of texture, mushiness, and staleness are all indications of spoilage! Please be careful when consuming expired Factor meals and use your better judgment before consuming them.
Factor meals can be stored for up to a week but in some cases, they can last 1-2 more days provided that they don’t show signs of spoilage.
Now that you know if you can consume expired Factor meals, here are some related questions:
Do all Factor meals have the same expiration date?
All Factor meals are designed to last up to a week but they also have a “enjoy by” date printed on the back that indicates the meals that you should aim to consume first.
These meals will usually be the ones with heavy sauces, cheese, oil, and other ingredients that may succumb to bacteria.
Can leftover Factor meals be stored with the included dip?
Factor usually provides dips and condiments separately. If you do end up mixing them with the food, then we recommend that you consume leftovers within 1-2 days for the best experience.
Do not store leftover Factor meals for more than 2 days, especially if they are covered in the dip!