How to Save Money on Food While Vacationing in Disney

In the weeks that lead to my trips to Disney World, I always look at the park times and events to see where and when I want to go to each of the parks.  Once this has been figured out, I begin to think through my planning of what foods we will eat.  If I am traveling with my husband, we typically eat all of our food either in the parks or in Downtown Disney.  However, when traveling with only my son or my mother/sisters, we bring various items along with us.

I have found that I do not mind bringing breakfast with us as it helps the mornings along to simply grab the food and go on to the parks.  I find the congestion in the food court lines to be frustrating and slow.  One item I often bring is muffins.  I freeze them so they pack well, but have also brought oatmeal, doughnuts and pop tarts.  The food courts at the hotels have bowls and plates that can be used if needed.  Additionally, there are microwaves available for heating the foods.  Items such as utensils, butter and jelly are found on the condiments bar in the mornings.

For a drink, I always purchase the half-gallon of milk in the food court or merchandise store.  The cost of two small half pints of milk pays for the half-gallon and we are sure to use over 2 half pints of milk!  I HATE the coffee in Disney World.  The lattes are typically weak and not authentic.  To compensate, I bring along VIA from Starbucks.  This also makes a quick drink selection for me in the morning as I grab what I have deemed as the “Magic Cup”, add a VIA and enough milk to nearly fill the cup.  (This has been deemed as the “Magic Cup” because it will keep ice in a cup for an entire day when left in the car the whole day during 90+ degree Orlando heat!  This cup is sold at Starbucks and also allows for me to receive a 10 cent discount on all drinks purchased at Starbucks where I use that cup instead of their paper cup.)  I quickly shake up the drink and add ice from the ice machine for a pretty fantastic iced latte.

Lunches are a bit more difficult to pack.  But on days when I know I will be at the parks late, I typically know I will be returning to the room for a rest midday.  With this in mind, I pack things such as ready to heat soups, macaroni and cheese, and spaghettios.  I have even been known to pack smaller cans of vegetables when I was feeling like I wanted a healthier trip!  Again, I use the microwaves for the heating of these items that can be found in the food courts.

If I am not going to be returning to the room, I have been known to either bring or purchase bread from the food court and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  We also pack items that easily go with these lunches such as nuts, cranberries, apples, and fruit and jello cups. My son does not like sodas yet, so I usually grab us a cup of free ice water from any of the counter service locations.  We either drink it as is or add in a drink flavor of choice.

Dinners are typically reserved for eating out!  This time allows for some relaxation after hitting the parks all day and a good sit down dinner hits the spot. Since the other meals have been eaten on the fly, my son is typically happy to sit and concentrate on his meal.  On the converse, when eating out every meal I find that my son just cannot STAND to sit still for the entire meal.  But there are a few occasions when my son has been very good at meals:

I know, this way does not seem as exciting or as vacationy as going out to eat every meal.  I travel with some (I won’t name you) that HATE this.  I personally do not like eating out very much even when at home.  I find the food selections are not healthy or to my likings.  This allows for me to still go out to eat daily, but without having to go out to eat for all meals.

And look at there… I saved money along the way!  Quite a lot of money in fact.  When you figure, for breakfast we would spend $6 for my son and $11 for mine (Latte @ $4, waffles @ $7) plus another $6 for my son’s lunch and $12 for mine, you are looking at a savings of $35 per day.  For this trip I am on right now, that calculates to a savings of $210 for our 6-day trip!  To me, that is a pretty good savings when you consider that we are instead eating quicker, more healthy meals than we would if we were eating in a Disney restaurant area.  Also, consider that there are times when you can stay the night at a value resort if you have an annual pass for less than $60.  That means that you saved enough to stay 3 nights for free on a future trip!

Would love to hear your views on this.  I know my way is not popular.  It is just my way:)

1 comment for “How to Save Money on Food While Vacationing in Disney

  1. Shannon M.
    June 5, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I have gone to Restaurant.com for deals on local restaurants…some of them on property! We got a $50 gift cert to House of Blues at DD for less than the cost of one dinner. I saved it and we were able to enjoy table service for a fraction of the cost. There are pizza places, etc just off property who regularly post deals on there. I also bring in food. At times sandwiches in a backpack and waterbottles with filters on them. (The water is very chlorinated). Ppl bring in rolling coolers; Disney is very accommodating and respectful to those bring their own food:)

    We were lucky to have a vacation home, so I packed taco seasoning and other items in with my things. We were able to eat breakfast and quick dinners most days. It shaved so much money off of what we would have paid. It was the only way for us to enjoy Disney at Christmas. They don’t really remember the food we ate; they remember the beauty of the parks at holiday time. It took a little extra work, but was worth it.

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