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Old 01-05-2013, 08:04 AM   #46
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Head over to the restaurant board and see which CS have the biggest portions. Your youngest should definitely be able to just share food for most of her meals, especially if she is snacking through the day. I agree 100% with packing food, hitting a grocery store or having a delivery. Unless you are a full sit down breakfast kind of family, you can get by with snacking through breakfast. Personally, we have access to a car so we are making a grocery run and packing a ton of snacks and lunch for in the parks. My kiddos are little, one with allergies, both can be picky, and we're on a a really tight budget so it really makes sense for me to pack as much as possible (especially with drinks, last thing I really want is to make my kids stand in one more line, just for a drink of water). I've learned through the years too that I would hit the grocery store, buy all of the more expensive snacks that my kids don't usually have and they don't really care, would have been just as happy eating generic goldfish. Oh, one last tip, take along some ziploc bags for unfinished food. I know when we took my stepdaughter when she was 6, she would get too excited to eat at mealtime, not finish even half of her food and then an hour later be starving. We took one of the gallon sized ziploc, put the entire little Mickey plate in there and stuck it in the backpack. Worked out great!
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:18 AM   #47
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Bring breakfast stuff from home and eat in your room. Share meals. Skip meals. Eat a desert for a meal. Bring snack stuff with you. Refill water bottles and use koolaid singles to kill the bad taste.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:20 AM   #48
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We have a few methods we employ. First we rent a car so we have access to local supermarkets and drugstores. We make a stop for cases of water, soda, bunches of bananas (my favorite breakfast), apples, granola bars, cold cuts, and bread. By keeping these essentials in the room we are able to make our own breakfasts and sandwiches. We bring our own bottles of water to the parks. I do find that the giant Dasani they sell in the gift shops is a great deal (on Disney property lol) for a cold water if we run through our bottles.

We also share meals. DH and I are average size people; I have a big appetite and he has a small appetite. Hahahaha. Funny how it works out like that. For CS breakfast (if we do that) we get whatever the biggest meal is (eggs, sausage, hash browns etc) and share that. It's always more than enough food. For CS lunch we share big platters from Cosmic Ray's, CHH, Flame Tree...If we aren't full from one meal we'll order something else. But we find we get really full from the portions.

At TS many, many times I will order an appetizer as my main course. For example the mussel dishes at Flying Fish or Artist Point are huge! Like piles of mussels! I can get that an a side salad and be set. Instead of $34.95 or more for an entree each. It all depends what I feel like. We are of the belief that when we're on vacation we like to treat ourselves well. This doesn't mean frivolously spending our hard earned money, but it does mean not hesitating to buy things and eat what pleases us.

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Old 01-05-2013, 08:28 AM   #49
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The biggest way we have saved money on food at Disney is booking our trip during free dining. That's the biggest savings on food you can get IMO.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:34 AM   #50
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I live within driving distance and like to make multiple trips per year. Some of these are my "super budget" trips when I spend a week offsite in a $250/week condo. I pack in most of my food from home. Some of it is leftovers (beans, chili, etc) that I froze in single-serve portions and use for dinners in the condo.

I also bring things like pasta, peanut butter, pita, cereal and coffee that I stockpiled at home when they were on sale and I had coupons. I also bring spices. On my arrival day I make a grocery run for perishables like fruit, veggies and dairy.

Here's a list of what I ate on my last trip, it's fairly typical:


Brownbag Lunches
Pasta salad/grapes
Peanut butter/whole wheat/apple
Spicy homemade red pepper hummus/pita wedges/carrots/cheese/apple
Veggie sandwich (hummus/broccoli/tomato/cheese) on whole wheat

Home-made macaroni and cheese/black-eyed peas/sliced home-grown tomatoes
Bean burrito/salad
Pasta with veggies (broccoli, carrots, spinach, tomato), garlic and Parmesan
Baked potato topped with lentil chili and cheese/salad
Large salad with cheese and assorted veggies/toasted parmesan pita wedges
Black beans/rice/salad

Trail mix
Peanut butter/celery

Those are primarily solo or meet up with local friends trips. When DH goes we usually splash out a bit more. Last time we has a Dining Plan and ate out every meal for a week. It was fun at first but as the week wore on I began to wish I could skip the whole dining experience thing and just have a nice salad while veging out in my jammies in the room! Eating in is not only cheaper but, for me at least, a whole lot healthier. On the dining plan temptation always gets the better of me and I end up eating cupcakes for breakfast.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:13 AM   #51
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A big plus for eating breakfast in the room...huge calorie save. It is so hard to find any healthy options for breakfast in Disney....got so tired of eating 500 calorie muffins, bagels that were just round bread, or a yogurt cup that was less healthy that a dish of ice cream.

For the first time we brought food to eat in our room - not to save money but so we were not wasting calories. I bought wheat bread and a jar of peanut butter. Some mornings we would buy some fresh fruit to go with it.

This was the first vacation where I actually lost weight! So I see three benefits to eating breakfast in the room - saving calories, time, and money!

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Old 01-05-2013, 09:40 AM   #52
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We eat pop tarts, fruit (apple, banana) little cereal boxes, granola bars, etc for breakfast on the way to the park or in the hotel. I usually pack sandwhiches and drinks for one meal while in the park. I also bring a ton of snacks. That way i'm only paying OOP for one meal and a treat (usually ice cream or something).

We also bring the individual gatorade, crystal light, kool aid packets and refill water bottles through out the day.

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Old 01-05-2013, 09:59 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by tcherjen
Thanks guys!! We will defintely pack in room stuff. I guess I need to clarify that is is $15 per person per meal. So... basically $45 dollars per person per day. ($225 a day on food ect.) Now we may not eat that much, but I just want to be safe money wise.
45 pp per day would be do able. If you just eat a small breakfast. Muffins, cinn rolls. Then you would have extra breakfast money left over for dinner. I believe 4 people could do a table service dinner at certain places for about $100 so that leaves you $125 for the rest of the day!!!!
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:23 AM   #54
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We found the room discount to work out better than the free dining PIN we had this time around. Plus we don't like to eat the way the ddp is structured (would rather appetizers over desserts etc) so we're going with a room only rate this trip.
We are AP holders so are getting a Tables in Wonderland card. That will basically save us the tip at Table Services. We always have breakfast in the room as well. We'll have a car this time so can pick up breakfast items. On other trips we have made grocery orders.

We'll basically follow the formula of a CS for lunch and a TS for dinner. We genuinely prefer water with most meals so we won't be ordering a lot of soft drinks anyway. We will get coffee or dh will have beer or wine with dinner.

Also we plan to add in one snack a day. Taking all this into consideration we have budgeted 200 per day for the four of us and looking at the menus I expect to have some left over for souvenirs at the end of the trip.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:26 AM   #55
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At MK- Cosmic Ray's
At HS- Fairfax Fare
At EP- Tangierine Cafe

all have huge plates of food more than enough for 2 people(IMO)
(I know you aren't doing the dining plan, but the link may still be useful).

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Old 01-05-2013, 11:18 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by MSSANDRA View Post
WDW food is expensive. There are ways to save. We almost always do the DDP now but we did vacation there before that was an option and when money was tighter for our family. Here are a few of my favorite ways to save money

-Don't spend a lot of money on your travel days. If you are driving, pack food from home, plenty of snacks and drinks to last the trip. If you are flying, try to eat before you leave home and take snacks for the airport and for the flight.

-Mix bought food with brought food. On one of our early trips, we took chips, drinks and cookies from home and would go to the food court and just get sandwiches. We sometimes ate in the room and sometime in the food court.

-There is a mircowave in food courts. Feel free to use it. Pop corn from home is a cheap treat.

-Eat a good breakfast in the room. Easier if you drive or can do a grocery delivery. Pop tarts make kids poop out about ten and they are starving before lunch. Think cheap protein.... peanut butter on bagels, ham and cheese on bagels, pre-boiled eggs. If you drive.....take a regular cooler. If you fly, pack a soft sided one and keep filled with ice from the resort.

-Share food. There is no way our family of four needs four meals. Try two and add food as you need to.

-Drink H20! Take flavor packs to add in as you need or want.

-Carry in snacks if you need too. We no longer carry anything into the park but we certainly have before and it works fine. Pack in hard sided containers to avoid crushing.

We really like Rain Forrest Cafe and have never had bad food or bad service there. Our waitress at the AK one this year was soooooo sweet. Meals are really huge here so try ordering two or three and you can add desert if necessary.

Remember that if you were at home you would have to eat that week too so add that money into your budget. Look for other ways to cut your food budget at home in the weeks leading up to the trip. Try eating just out of your pantry stash for a week or two. Meals might be a little funny but I bet most people could do it. Brown bag it for lunch, avoid any eating out at home , or eat meatless for a week or two before you go.

Try not to worry soo much about saving money that you forget to enjoy what you eat!!

We do all this...including eating what we have the last week or two before we go. I really do very little grocery shopping until a couple days before we are set to leave (we drive down) and then I purchase what we might need for the trip. Our family rarely eats out at home, so we really do get sick of eating out all the time once we are there. We will do breakfast in the room most days (my son is begging for mickey waffles-so if anyone knows if you can order them anywhere for lunch, please let me know ), and I will have what we need to make sandwiches in our room for lunch a couple of days.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:27 PM   #57
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One of the biggest savings for us is eating breakfast in the room. We bring cereal, pastries, pop tarts, or whatever. You can get a gallon (or maybe only a half gallon) of milk in the resort store for not too much more than what you pay at home. We also have chips and other snacks for the room. We never buy water, we bring a Brita water bottle. We get free ice from CS places and use water from the fountains. Even if you can't get ice the water in the fountains is cool. If we buy a Coke we usually share it, it works out good for us because it's hard for one person to drink a big coke before it gets warm.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:41 PM   #58
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We always get the dining plan so we never have to worry about food, but even when we stayed off site which we did for many years, we never budgeted for food because there are just too many possibilities. I tend to eat a lot less at WDW with the heat and being busy, but my kids eat a lot more than usual.

All that said some tips I would suggest are...

Stock up on breakfast items, snacks and drinks at Publix or one of the other grocery stores. If you eat breakfast in the room, it'll save you a lot of money and having snacks in your back pack saves paying Disney prices for a piece of fruit!

Share CS meals. Even though we have the DDP, it is very rare that I don't share a CS meal with my DD8. Portions are plenty big enough for an adult and a child. For example, get a Burger Meal and an extra portion of fries and split the burger.

Eat dinner off property. There are some great buffet style places in the general area.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:48 PM   #59
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for many years we traveled on food bubget. We always drive, so we used to take our cooler, the kind that you can plug in, in the room so it was like a mini refrigirator. we would go to the grocery store and made sandwiches to bring in the parks, or split 2 counter service meal for the 4 of us.
Depending on wich resort you are staying you can order pizza familly size(at leats a couple of years ago). We usually went on table service 2-3 times durring the trip.

For breakfast, most of the time the children woult eat cold cereal with milk, or we went to the food court with bagels or slices of bread, use the toasters and put over it what ever we took with us, peanut butter, Nutella, jam.

I always brought snaks for the kids like granolla bar, cookies(at least some that can stand the heat),small packages of almonds, bottles of water, or juice.

Now, most of the time we go with the dining plan, we still split some of the counter service meals and we still take most of our breakfast at the food court with bagels, toast or croissants that we bring from our room, unless we have splited too many CS meals. If we have left over of the counter service, on our last night we go to Epcot, in France in the boulangerie, and take with us sandwiches and desserts for the ride back home. Brigning bottles of water is still a must, because they are expensive in the parks, we buy the little ones in Walmart, it is easier to toss in your back pack, and you can trow them away faster than the bigger ones.

Hope this helps, have a magical trip

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Old 01-05-2013, 08:02 PM   #60
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I always order breakfast and lunch off the kids menu at QS places. It's enough food for me and has sides that you can save for a snack later like the baby carrots and apple slices. I also avoid desserts at TS since you can walk out and grab a Mickey bar or rice crispy treat for $4 instead of paying $10 for ice cream while sitting down. I pack some granola bars or things like that for the plane since airport food is expensive. Finally, the best thing was getting Brita Water Bottles. We don't drink soda so not paying for bottle water or stopping multiple places during the day for a little cup of water was a huge benefit.
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