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I tried Red Lobster's $30 family 'meal deal.' It wouldn't have been enough for my family of 4 if I hadn't added sides.

Author Terri Peters smiling outside of a Red Lobster location
My family of four tried a Red Lobster family meal deal. Terri Peters
  • I tried Red Lobster's family taco meal deal for $30 — it was not enough to feed my family of four.

  • Had I not added fries and biscuits, I think my family would've been hungry later that night.

  • As far as family-style meal deals from chain restaurants go, this one was not worth the price.

Many chain restaurants, from Panera Bread to IHOP, have been adding family-style meal deals to their menus.

They're generally meant to save families time and money, something I'm especially interested in as a busy mom of two teens.

I was especially excited to check out the deals from seafood chain Red Lobster since it has family meals ranging from pasta to crab legs on its menu.

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So, instead of cooking dinner on Taco Tuesday, I headed to seafood chain Red Lobster to try its family taco meal deal.

Red Lobster's family taco meal deal was easy to order.

Family Taco Meal Deal on Red Lobster Website on Laptop screen
I ordered our Red Lobster meal to a Florida location.Terri Peters

Earlier in the afternoon, I ordered the meal on Red Lobster's website and chose 5:30 p.m. pick-up time at a nearby Florida location.

I went with the chicken taco deal for $30 before tax, but the availability and price may depend on your location. I could've also chosen lobster and shrimp ($34) or shrimp ($32).

The meal comes with grilled chicken, six tortillas, jalapeño slaw, pico de gallo, lime crema, cilantro, and a side of tortilla chips. While ordering, I also had the option to add menu items like shrimp skewers and linguine Alfredo for an extra charge.

Although I didn't choose from the suggested add-ons, I did add two orders of fries and a half-dozen Cheddar Bay Biscuits to the order to give it some bulk.

The meal, like most of the ones offered, seemed designed to serve four people, but I was a bit skeptical.

I received a text with instructions before my pick-up time.

Photo of a pick-up text message from Red Lobster on phone in woman's hands
The pick-up process seemed simple enough.Terri Peters

Thirty minutes before my scheduled pick-up time, I received a text message from Red Lobster with instructions.

The text said to park in a curbside spot and text "here" to the number to initiate the pick-up process.

The pick-up process was easy enough, although it took longer than I expected.

Red Lobster ToGo Curbside Pick up sign
It took us more than 10 minutes to get our meal from Red LobsterTerri Peters

When my teens and I arrived at Red Lobster, we drove around for a bit before we located the two curbside pick-up parking spots, as the signs were pretty small.

Once we parked, we responded "here" to our text from the restaurant to start the pick-up process.

We waited just over 10 minutes before receiving a reply that our order was ready and someone would bring it out soon.

Shortly after, an employee walked our bag of food to my car and we were on our way home.

I should've known by how light the bag was that I wasn't getting much food.

Brown paper Red Lobster To Go Bag
The Red Lobster ordered seemed light. Terri Peters

Even as I was carrying the to-go bag from my trunk to my house, I knew there wasn't much food in it.

This was surprising, as my family and I have been visiting chain restaurants quite a bit lately, from Buffalo Wild Wings to Outback Steakhouse, and have always been a bit overwhelmed by the large portion sizes and amount of leftovers we've gone home with.

The size of our meal seemed really small.

Pico de gallo, grilled chicken strips, tortillas, and cilantro in foil pan
Priced at $30, the tacos worked out to about $7 per person. Terri Peters

The first thing that struck me about this "family" meal was that there were only six tortillas included.

My family of four aren't huge eaters, but when I saw how few tortillas we got, I opted to eat my taco toppings on a plate so my husband, son, and daughter could each have two tacos for their dinner.

We also finished the grilled chicken fast. It's rare that any member of my family doesn't have leftovers at a chain restaurant and asks if it's OK for them to finish what's left of a dish.

The meal was supposed to come with tortilla chips but it seems ours were left out of the bag. That said, I'm not sure chips would've made much of a difference in terms of filling us up.

That said, the taco meat was delicious and full of flavor.

Two grilled chicken tacos with a side of coleslaw on a plate
The chicken tacos were small but delicious. Terri Peters

The grilled chicken included with our Red Lobster family meal was very good, flavorful, and full of a char-grilled taste.

Everyone at my dinner table liked the food a lot — we just wished there had been more of it for the price we paid.

Had I not bulked the meal up with some sides, we'd have all been hungry.

Fries and Cheddar bay biscuits from red lobster in takeout containers
The fries and biscuits were a nice addition but I paid extra for them. Terri Peters

In addition to the $30 cost of this family meal, I spent about $10 adding two sides of fries and a six-piece order of Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay biscuits to our meal.

I was glad I did, as the taco meal itself was nowhere near enough food to feed a family of four.

Overall, I wouldn't trust Red Lobster with my Taco Tuesday again.

Foil pan of taco ingredients next to takeout container of fries and cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster
At $30 for a fairly mediocre portion of taco ingredients, the meal was disappointing.Terri Peters

Maybe Red Lobster's other meal deals are better, but at close to $45 with tax, the family taco meal deal and sides I ordered didn't feel like a good value to me.

Had I not bulked the tacos up with a few sides, my family wouldn't have had enough to eat that night.

I was especially surprised by the small portions because I recently spent less on Panera Bread's four toasted-baguette family feast, which left us with enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

Plus, there are several other ways I'd prefer to spend $45 on a Taco Tuesday meal. Instead, we could've gotten pretty great taco-night ingredients at the grocery store or ordered a ton of tacos at a fast-food chain like Taco Bell.

As a working family who is choosy about what we spend our dining-out budget on, the experience missed the mark.

Read the original article on Insider