Taco Bell has just introduced the Fiesta Family Meal. For $15, you get two plastic trays, one filled with "hot" food: beef, rice and pinto beans and cheese, and one filled with the "cold" toppings: shredded lettuce, grated cheese, diced tomato, sour cream and guacamole. You also get 10 tortillas, hard, soft or both, chips, rice and pintos and cheese, supposedly enough for 4 people. For another $4, you can get an extra 5 tortillas and a small tray of beef. The hot portion of the meal is delivered hot, so you can eat right away, like at a picnic or party, or you can throw it in the fridge for later.
The brilliant part of this is that the hot ingredients are kept separate, so you can reheat them later without having to reheat the lettuce or tomato. The tortilla shells are also separate, so they stay crisp for hours, unlike the preassembled tacos which get soggy within minutes. You can also build your tacos to taste. Don't like tomatoes, leave them off. Want beans instead of beef? No problem.
I bought one of these meals today at around 3:30 pm. We didn't have dinner until 7:30, four hours later. If I'd bought regular tacos, they would have been cold, soggy and disgusting. Instead, I just popped the "hot" tray in the microwave for a few minutes, then spent a couple minutes more building my tacos. I could not taste any difference between these and tacos I'd bought from Taco Bell in the past. The shell was crunchy, the lettuce crisp and not at all wilted and the sour cream cold and creamy. If anything, they might have been better than their usual pre-fab tacos. There was a lot of food, easily enough for 4 people. The amount of beef was actually quite generous for the number of shells; we had some left over and I used it along with the chips to make nachos.
Unfortunately this meal deal is currently only available in the Omaha, NE and Portland, OR metro areas at this time. Hopefully Taco Bell will be rolling it out nationwide soon. It really is a great idea.