When dining at Disney World on a budget it is a great idea to have a game plan.
When planning your Disney vacation be sure to make a list for each day of the places you plan to eat. This not only creates a great visual but allows you to see just how much money food and snacks are going to consume the vacation budget.
I suggest you create a ‘food budget’ and stick to it, since there are tempting Disney goodies around every corner.
If you’re staying off-property and your hotel or resort offers free breakfast, be sure to take advantage of this freebie! If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to waste any time plan to purchase breakfast items to eat in your hotel room such as bananas, cereal bars, muffins (bake these at home and bring them with you), Pop Tarts, orange juice (available at most grocery stores in convenient resealable individual containers), and either bring them with you or use an online grocery store delivery if you don’t have a car.
Lunch and dinner out are going to add up quickly for a family of 4. If you are traveling on a budget then I suggest having your children split an entree and be sure to pack your own snacks and drinks. You can even pack your own lunch in a cooler to save money since Disney now “officially” allows you to bring food and drinks into the parks.
If you have the mentality that “I’m on vacation I am going to eat out every meal” view-point then I would suggest you at least try to chose your restaurants accordingly. Look around on our Dining tab to get some ideas. There are many counter service restaurant options available, which save time and money. Counter service dining offers much more affordable prices and most of the time the portions are just as big, and don’t be afraid to order off the kids menu parents!!!
If you are on a budget, I would suggest you eat a late lunch at the theme parks and head back to your hotel for dinner time. However, the Disney Diva always takes her breaks mid-day and would suggest eating at late lunch at the resort and saving your money for a delicious dinner in the parks that evening.
If your hotel has a microwave/refrigerator be sure to take full advantage of this! Plan to prepare quick and easy meals for your family in your hotel room, you can also “rent” one in most on-property resorts, which many people don’t know. Just request it when you make your reservation.
Some quick and easy meal ideas for dining in your hotel room include the following: microwave MacNCheese (if you have older children be sure to use the family size as it offers a much bigger proportion), microwave Hambuger Helper, hot dogs, microwave mini pizza’s, etc. Many microwave meals just require water. I have even seen pea’s and carrots in little individual cups that are microwavable which would be perfect if you want to squeeze in a veggie with your dinner. If your family doesn’t eat much fast food don’t suddenly spring these “quick” meals on them, as the fat in them could really effect comfort for the rest of the trip.
If the idea of cooking meals in your hotel room does not appeal to you, don’t worry, there are other money saving options available. Have a parent run out to the local pizza place and bring back a pizza, many will deliver straight to your hotel room. Or pick up ‘to go’ food from a nearby restaurant as even this would be cheaper than eating at many in-park restaurants.
However, don’t skip out on the experiences. Character meals help with time management believe it or not, so just decide where you’re going to skimp and where you’re going to splurge prior to the trip. Agree on a restaurant that offers something for everyone and remember to box up any leftovers (but not if you’re not heading back to the room soon and don’t have a refrigerator in your room… talk about sickness!!) And don’t forget if you’ve got one older child and one younger child the importance of special time with mom or dad eating alone.
Enjoy your Disney vacation but remember it’s the memories you are creating with your family that you will look back on and remember, not necessarily the food you ate.