WDW Food Budget questions...

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by jay-nee, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. jay-nee

    jay-nee Can you see me? I'm over here...

    Jun 12, 2000
    When on a budget, how do you make the most of your food budget dollars at WDW?

    How low were you able to get your food budget and not feel deprived (per person)?

    What are your best suggestions for decent, cheap eats at WDW?

    Here are my answers:

    We usually eat a sit-down breakfast and either a late sit-down lunch or early sit-down dinner. Sometimes, we have a big sit-down early lunch and something snacky for dinner. That way we can try the nice restaurants without breaking the bank. It's still just too expensive though.

    I've never been able to get below $25 per person per day. I'd like to try to do $15 per person per day and eat breakfast in the room each day.

    We love Flame Tree BBQ, Casey's, and Peco Bill's too. Any of the "fast food" at the World Showcase is always fun and not really too bad price wise.


    But, I'd love to hear everyones BEST strategies. Please?
  2. chesirechik

    chesirechik <font color=blue>Reads AND responds to threads!<br

    Aug 8, 2002
    When we do WDW on the cheap DH & I usually eat a big breakfast in the room - oatmeal, a piece of fruit, yogurt. Healthier stuff that fills us up, but keeps us going.

    We take snacks such as fruit and crackers into the parks to avoid buying junk snacks and also carry the brita water bottles so we don't have to buy drinks.

    For dinner we would do counter service, but split stuff. Like only one of us would get fries and and we would share a large drink since DH doesn't drink a lot.

    We would plan 2-3 nice meals in the park before we left and put that money aside before we went so it didn't factor in to the daily amount we were spending on food.
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  4. frannn

    frannn <font color=blue>please stop the madnesssss alread

    Nov 2, 1999
    For the past two years, food vouchers (no longer available at a budget price) were the way to go, as well as restaraunt.com gift certificates (bought on ebay or with a discount code), gift certificates to RFC earned through the Mypoints rewards program, eating a few meals offsite, bringing snacks, and eating a good amount of counter service did the trick. Now, vouchers cost more than the cash value of the food (except at a few places), the Orlando restaraunts for which you can buy gift certificates has dwindled down, no more RFC on Mypoints, and ME is encouraging people to not rent a car, and therefore making it difficult to eat offsite. If I was able to purchase the dining plan without having to buy tickets to get it, I would seriously consider it. Since we will be using APs, and can't utilize the dining plan, we will be buying the DDE card, which will give us 20% all of our meals at our resort (value resort food court), and all of our sit downs. I will also make a grocery run to buy snacks, fresh fruit, juice boxes. I will bring Brita bottles, and buy the reusable mugs (we will eat at least breakfast every day at the resort, and love those late night cocoa runs!). We will eat offsite when we go to the outlets and at a few favorite places. We will share counter service food for meals before or after a large character buffet has been planned. I think we will get more value out of buying one adult counter service meal for DD12 and DD2 to share, instead of two kids meals (plus DD12 turns her nose up at kid's meals). I try to pack snacks that a little filling for DD2, like fruit, granola bars, applesauce, etc. I will probably bring some individually packaged oatmeal for DD2, in addition to giving her a bit of whatever I'm eating for breakfast. I'll probably buy some hostess cakes, filled pretzels, dry cereal, and microwave popcorn for late night resort snacks. I'd rather spend a few $ extra at the market on fancy snacks than a lot more at WDW. I'll print the Buy 1 Get 1 for Girarldies (sp) for those DTD sundae runs. Wonder if you can print two, and use it on two different days??? Regardless, it's all good- you'll be at WDW. I'd rather be eating a can of corn and iced tea in a wonderbread bag in WDW than lobster anywhere else!
  5. got2lovedisney

    got2lovedisney DIS Veteran

    Feb 9, 2004
    Our favorite trick is to get to Columbia Harbor House (which my DD insists is a MUST!). We used to get my DD the chicken strips basket ($6.59) and I would get the fish basket ($6.49). Now we just split the combo basket ($6.99) and save $6.09!!

    Also, if I'm not tto hungry, I'll just get a kids meal. Another tip...everyone doesn't "need" a basket...delete the fries and it reduces the cost. Drink water or get a large soda and share.

    If eatting at a table service restaurant...go for lunch, it's usually cheaper.

    We bring snacks/breakfast from home as well as water & gatorade.
  6. becca011906

    becca011906 DIS Veteran

    Mar 23, 2005
    I'm needing some last min tips too! We are trying to figure how much we will spend perday on food and keep adding to it... right now we are thinking $100 a day for our family of 5 (me, dh, 2 kids, 1 is still only nursing)...
  7. angeladisney

    angeladisney Mouseketeer

    Aug 11, 2005
    We are not going to WDW til June 2006 in which we will be there for 10 days. We are family of seven Me :earsgirl: DH :earsboy: DS (11) :earsboy: DD (9) :earsboy: DD (8) :earsgirl: DD (5) :earsgirl: DS (2.5) :earsboy: . I am looking for anyway ti save money on the food budget. We would like to eat at Rainforset Cafe, Si-FI, and Crystal Palace. All other meals can be counter -service. Right now the buget $2000 :confused3 for food so that 200 a day. So if anyone has any ideas on how to lower this I gladly appericate it. :banana:

    Thanks for all replies in advance. :)
  8. mainewmn

    mainewmn Patiently waiting for my place in the castle..

    Feb 5, 2003
    Cant really help with lowering it but we always budgeted a $50 per day per person for food, that always allowed us breakfast, one sit down meal and one counter meal, also because we would always spend less some days/ more other days we would have enough left between for a snack or two each day.
  9. Tnkrbelle565

    Tnkrbelle565 DIS Veteran

    May 14, 2004
    Sorry I can't help much either...except to suggest to check out the dining plan. We spent about $100 a day for two adults. But we also ate at Table Service everyday and bought a couple of drinks in the parks. This year we are doing the dining plan.
  10. angeladisney

    angeladisney Mouseketeer

    Aug 11, 2005
    I think we are going to eat breakfast in our offsite villa. Then eat a sit-down lunch whatever we can get on hands on til we are full :rotfl: , then eat a counter-service or snack dinner? I think we may eat some meals outside the park too. Does anyone know if you leave to eat at like Pizza Hut or McDonalds do have to pay again for parking or is $8.00 all day.
    Please help with anymore suggestion. :cool1: Thanks again for the advice.
  11. mbethel

    mbethel Mouseketeer

    Oct 7, 2002
    You just have to pay once a day. When you come back into the parking lot just show them the pass you were given when you paid.
  12. familyfirsttimer

    familyfirsttimer Not my 1st time anymore! I'm hooked for life!!!!

    May 12, 2005
    Is is really worth it to leave the park to travel to Pizza Hut or McDonalds? I would think the price of a counter service meal in the park (even 1 to share and a snack each to split) would be just as costly and you won't have at least an hour of your time taken up just leaving, driving and coming back? Just my thoughts
  13. Piecey

    Piecey <font color=darkorchid>I find myself fighting with

    Feb 16, 2005
    I suggest going to your local grocery store and picking up the crystal light packages (or generic- more flavors that way) and asking for a glass of FREE water whenever you get thirsty. You don't get as dehydrated as if you'd drank pop and the drink is only going to cost you about $.10

    Also, there weren't very many flavors out when I went in March so I bought several tubes of M&M mini's and put the pre-mixed Kool-Aid stuff in them to carry around..
  14. Aurora borealis

    Aurora borealis Princess trainee

    Jul 14, 2005
    We are on a pretty strict budget, so we usually stick with counter service for a majority of our meals. In all honesty, most of my favorite restaurants ARE counter service! Especially in the World Showcase... Often times DH and I will share a meal, mainly cause it's so hot and we just don't have big appetites. IF we are ravenous, however, we'll each get our own meal. We do plan a few special sit down meals at the nicer restaurants, but we try and only do them for lunch, since the menu is much cheaper... Like many others, we eat our breakfast in-room and bring some snacks along to the parks. But we always get one Mickey Ice Cream bar one of the days! :mickeybar: We bring a few water bottles along and fill them up at the drinking fountains. You definitly don't want to get dehydrated!
  15. Julia M

    Julia M DIS Veteran<br><font color =red>not clever, not wi

    Jun 10, 2000
    Well, I think $15 per person per day will be rough, for those eating adult meals.

    My suggestions:
    *order water with meals
    *eat breakfast in room
    *bring snacks with you, including water
    *share meals
    *try to eat at places where you can get more "real food", rather than just hamurgers......like Tangierne Cafe, Flame Tree BBQ, etc.

    Personally, I think $15 per day will be tough to make, unless it's a family average, and you can buy some kids meals.

  16. Princess Tink

    Princess Tink DVC Member

    Feb 18, 2003
    Honestly, the best piece of advise I can offer is PLAN PLAN PLAN. I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to planning our WDW trips, however my DH has not allowed me to plan for meals until this past summer. He thinks how can I know what we will be in the 'mood' for, but after telling him about how full the restaurants were going to be with everyone being on the dining plan....he let me do it all this year (I was THRILLED!).

    We had one PS a day, typically at lunch the exception being the nights we had the Fantasmic Dinner Pkg, O'hana, and the HDDR. Then we just did CS for the opposite meal. We had breakfast in our room except the one day we went to Spoodles. Although we came out to about $30/person per day we could of done it for much cheaper very easily by cutting out a few things like Fantasmic Dinner Pkg, O'hana, and the HDDR. There were a couple days we were at at approx $22/day per person and that includes snacks and drinks. Again, it just takes a little planning and patients. I kept track of everything on a spreadsheet when I was in the planning stages, I looked over dozens of menus on allearsnet.com and calculated what I thought everyone may order, figuring on the high end and including a 20% tip (because we tend to have exceptional service in WDW). If I knew we'd want to eat a TS, I tried to work that place into our plans for lunch (for ex we wanted to eat at LTT, we made a PS for the day we knew we'd be at MK).....be flexible, I made and cancelled reservations several times accordingly as we changed park day plans a few times. For dinner, the days we didn't have a PS we just wing it making sure to eat before or after the dinner rush. The was a time or 2 we'd have a Dole Whip or ice cream to tide us over to dinner just because we knew we didn't want to mess with the crowd.....and this was okay with us, because these were yummy!

    We placed an order with WegoShop.com for breakfast stuff (including fruit, chocolate milk, and white milk), Pepsi, Water, and a few snacks. Here's an example of a couple of our 'cheaper days':

    Breakfast in room
    Lunch-TS Liberty Tree Tavern
    Dinner-CS Tubbi's Buffeteria

    Breakfast in room
    Lunch-CS Flame Tree
    Dinner-CS Cantina de San Angel (which by the way I thought was a delicious find)

    Breakfast in room
    Lunch-TS Whispering Canyon Cafe
    Dinner-CS Electric Umbrella

    Breakfast in room
    Lunch-TS ESPN Club
    Dinner-CS Toy Story Pizza (which BTW I think is the worst pizza ever)

    these are just a few examples from our trip, we got out for about $22/day per person without feeling deprived. As a matter of fact, we've spent more money and had less variety in the past. My DH commented half way through the trip about how nice everything was, great variety of food, nice and relaxing trip and everything (you'd have to know him to understand there are 2 things he doesn't really care for, being on a schedule and having others tell him what to eat).

    I hope this helps.
  17. JMSMommy

    JMSMommy Mouseketeer

    Jun 16, 2005
    We've eaten buget wise for us at Disney before, but I don't think we got to $15/person a day.

    We do eat Breakfast in the room. Breakfast is also the one meal of the day I don't eat (long term sinus drainage/allergies overnight...ugh...I eat about 2 hours after I get up). Bring our own drinks for the room (bottled water, softdrinks, capri-suns, etc.). We rent a refrigerator and freeze (to the best of our ability) the bottles of water.

    Then, when we leave for the parks, in the kids diaper bags (or our "pack") we put in some good granola bars, and other good "snacks" that are more healthy. In the parks, we find the fresh fruit venders, and when I'm able to eat...I eat some fruit (usually not too expensive). By this point, the "frozen" water bottles are ready to drink. Dh and the kids do some snacking as well.

    We plan on a good sitdown lunch at a TS around 1-2pm, and make sure Dh and I fill up (the kids can't understand and we just make sure we have plenty of "snacks" on hand for them later like Cherrios and such).

    Around 5pm, we all have a light snack, more fruit, ice cream, and something to drink.

    Then at night, we do a "snack" dinner by splitting what we can. Casey's Dh gets a hot dog, DS6 gets a hot dog, and DS2 and I split one. We split 2 things of fries, and once again the kids get juice while Dh and I drink bottled water or lemonade or sodas. If we find a pizza place (not the best IMO), we split 3 personal pizzas. If we eat CS, Dh gets 1 adult combo and 2 kids combos...we split it all. Sometimes we make it back to the room without having to eat in the park, and we'll eat some of our "snack" foods there. I make sure we pack plenty of snacks that are suitable for non-breakfast/non-in the park foods.

    Yes, our "pack" is VERY heavy in the mornings with all the water and juice we bring in the park.
  18. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

    Feb 14, 2005
    I think this depends widely on your definition of "deprived." I don't mind minimizing breakfast, but I don't feel I've had a vacation if I don't get at least one good meal a day.
    The kids really don't mind breakfast in the room, (breakfast bars, cereal) and this saves a ton. With fridges in the room, this is easy, but I really feel better when I have eggs in the AM. Most places let you get them a la carte (saves tons, who wants boring carbs like toast anyhow, when Mickey ice cream bars are so close! I don't do pork, so paying for bacon is a huge waste for me.) Sometimes you can get eggs to go too - and avoid the tip.
    Even if you don't go to a grocery store, the prices for milk and OJ at the on property 'stores' is not a bad price. Certainly, you can get a carton of OJ cheaper than drinks in the restaurants.
    My biggest money saving tip is to SHARE. We share nearly all of our snacks. (Yes, it's hard, but sometimes, we even share mickey ice cream bars) In all seriousness, who needs to eat a whole box of popcorn? Popcorn was made for sharing. A couple of handfuls is more than enough of the stuff. And by the time the popcorn is cold, you're passing another ice cream cart. (One of my definitions of 'deprived' is eating snacks that have come out of a fanny pack or pocketbook. It's like Ferris B's Day Off (?) when the girl on the bus pulls a warm gummy bear out of her pocket an offers it to the principal...ugh!) WE do bring water though, and try to drink as much water as we can. When you give up the sweet drinks, this isn't hard to do. - the only alternative is diet coke and that gets tired quickly.
    Another thing we try to do, I suppose technically this isn't saving money in the direct sense, (Time is Money though) but we try to avoid lines. There is no line for ice cream on Main St at 11am. There is a huge line for ice cream on Main St. near parade time. If you avoid peak times, you can save a lot of line waiting. Icecream tastes great a 11am -allow yourself to break the rules a little and have dessert before lunch!

    I find the American pavillion at the WS to be a waste of time. Same food you can get elsewhere, served in an inefficient manner. No thanks.

    The pizza slices on the Boardwalk are a good treat that are quick to obtain.

    Sometimes we also share meals. Okay,maybe this is being cheap, but smaller kids can't eat a whole kids' meal. Some kids' meals are huge. Plus they rarely have real veggies. (IT pays to ask if you can sub a veggie) Adults can't eat a whole adults' meal. Two adults and one kid can share one kids' meal and one adults' meal. Do you really need three orders of french fries? Ugh! Again, a taste of fries is irresistable, but a whole plate of them is too much. A whole 'serving' of broccoli might be too much too. The truth is, I really hate throwing away food, butI also don't want to eat more than I should, either. By sharing, you can have a great meal for less, and sometimes, there is STILL food leftover! Also, you get the added benefit of trying other dishes out. This can be great fun in the WS!
    I think we budget about $50 a day/per adult, less for kids depending on age. We can usually stick to this budget, and even come out ahead. (Though if we get too ahead, we usually splurge a little.)
  19. jay-nee

    jay-nee Can you see me? I'm over here...

    Jun 12, 2000
    great suggestions, keep them coming!

    My definition of deprived is...not feeling like I missing the nice sit-down table service meals like Boma, 1900 Park Fare, etc.

    Also, where do people pick up those Brita water bottles? I've read about them, but have no idea where to pick them up. (Thx in advance for the info!)

    None of us drink soda or eat fries, we are more of a healthy eating family when it come to food. We always order water with our meals, even at a nice restaurant (other than the occassional glass of wine, etc). The problem is the water at some restaurants is HORRIBLE!

    We do buy the mugs from the resort (not for me though, I just drink water the entire trip). Sometimes, early or late, we'll have the hot chocolate (if machine is working).

    We buy milk from the gift store for cereal in the morning and I usually buy a couple of pieces of fruit each day also.

    We always have them subsitute something for the fries, if available (carrots, mashed potatoes, etc.). Or we order without fries.

    DD and I share meals all the time, I don't think that's cheap at all. DD will hardly ever finish anything she orders. So, I let her pick (most of the time) and we work off the same plate. Alot of the time, I'll order a salad as well.

    Great suggestions everyone - keep them coming! Please? ;)

    Happy Saturday! :sunny:
  20. 3DisneyKids

    3DisneyKids More Drink, Less Run...Since 2008

    Aug 13, 2005
    Hi fellow Mainer! (Maine-ah, I should say...)

    We are a family of 5 and ate easily on $100/day. This included a character b'fast, Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Hollywood & Vine and some others (though not 1900 or Jiko, etc). We ate b'fast in-room every day. The day of our character b'fast, we scheduled it for 11:15 (last seating) so counted that as an early lunch.

    Tips--2 kids' meals fed all 3 kids, so that always helped. On our "early days" (done at the park before dinner) we just got a pizza for our villa (OKW) or cooked grilled cheese or something else basic. Sure, some days we went way over $100. But then we made up for it on others.

    Always brought our own water, juice, and snacks into the park. This was not hard. We used the indiividual mix-packs of Crystal Light-type juice. One pack mixes perfectly into a bottle of water. So we just had one bottle per person and could drink either water or juice all day. Snacks were simple--granola bars, power bars (really filled us up!) and other things that go a long way...filling but easy to transport.

    Honestly, we really did not feel like we were pinching pennies at all. We sort of spread out our table-service meals so it always felt like we were eating something/somewhere special each day.

    Good luck--it can be done!

    Also, we used our Rewards dollars for food.

    As you can see from my tag, we are vegetarians, and that may have helped, too. We didn't order any of the top-dollar meat meals, like prime rib, etc. Pasta and veggie dishes are almost always cheaper than meat dishes.
  21. indigoxtreme

    indigoxtreme DIS Veteran

    Apr 9, 2005
    I feel the dining plan is the way to go for most people. You spend 35.00 per adult and 10. per child age 9 and under per night of your resort stay. This includes tip and tax. You get 1 table service meal, 1 counter service, and 1 snack for each night (stay 6 nights you each get 6 of the above, which can be used all the way to midnight of your day of checkout). Most of the post stated eating breakfast in the room, you can do this and have you lunch and dinner at the different restaurants. These meals do include the character meals, as well as Hoop De Doo (this will take 2 Table service credits as well as some other signature restaurants). The children 9 and under must order off the child menu. Below is from the DIsney website:

    1 table-service meal including appetizer, entree, dessert, and nonalcoholic beverage and gratuity charge
    1 counter-service meal including entree, dessert and nonalcoholic beverage at select counter-service locations
    1 snack, such as a frozen ice cream bar, box of popcorn, 20 oz bottle of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Dasani water or a medium fountain soft drink at select snack cart locations
    As an added benefit, you may exchange 2 table-service meals for either 1 Signature Dining Experience at one of our finest restaurants, such as the acclaimed California Grill or for 1 Disney Dinner Show, such as Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
    Children ages 3-9 must order from the Children's Menu if available.

    I feel this is a great bargin. You must purchase at least a 1 day ticket for each person. Look at the site and see if this may be for you.


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