Thursday, September 26, 2013

Uncle Scrooge's Money Saving Tips | Make Your Own Meals at Disney

My family has gone to Walt Disney World in just about every situation imaginable. We camped in tents; we camped in RVs; we've stayed in every level of resort, on and off property. We've been flush, and we've been scraping by. One of the best ways we have found to save money in Disney is to eat your big meal of the day back at the ranch. This can crimp your park style a bit, but if you need to save your pennies (and let's face it, we all have those trips that require a bit more creative budgeting!), this helps - especially if you have other families in your group you can share meals with!

Growing up, we always stayed in the Big Bear Little Bear loop in Fort Wilderness. (One Hundred Loop, anyone?) This was in the days when River Country was THE water park and Magic Kingdom was the only place to play. I can remember the three moms in our travel party planning meals together. We usually had burgers and hot dogs or a bit pot of spaghetti and meat sauce at our campsites each night. And someone always brought the wine! It was fabulous. We always had camp sites next to one another and we tried to pull all three picnic tables and camp chairs around a common area. Those were some of the most enjoyable times in Disney for me. I always loved the laughter and the stories that were told at dinner. Everyone was so happy.

We've also made some of our own meals in the Villas around the Disney property. In fact, one Thanksgiving my Aunt and Uncle made an entire Thanksgiving feast, turkey and all, at one of the Grand Villas at the Boardwalk! Although we tend to cook on a smaller scale most of the time.

If you are planning to make your meals at Disney, here are some easy ideas that can mean less time prepping and cooking, and more time with the family.

1. Get groceries and frozen meals ready to bake. If you drive to the resort, stop at a Publix along the way and get your water bottles, sunscreen and a couple of frozen dinners. This is easy to bake in your villa and requires no prep time at all. It's also far cheaper than purchasing it at the Marketplace at your resort. We also like to pick up the microwavable bags of frozen veggies. But be sure and buy or take your own seasonings, as we have found some of the meals to be a bit bland.

2. Crockpot meals made simple. This is a great idea if you drive to Disney. There are a lot of resources on Pinterest for make ahead crockpot meals. You simply put all your ingredients in a ziplock bag and freeze it. The night before you want to eat it, put the bag in the refrigerator to thaw and in the morning dump it in the crock pot and go. This is an excellent plan for Disney as all the prep work is done before you even get there. About a week (or up to a month) before your trip, make up as many meals as you'll need (don't forget breakfast!) and freeze them. They day you leave for Disney, pack them in a cooler and away you go! If your meals start to thaw in the cooler, don't sweat it. You'll be eating them within the week, so they should be fine as long as they are kept cool/refrigerated. You do, however, need to pack your own crockpot if you are staying on property, as they don't stock them at the villas.

3. Eat breakfast in the room. Breakfast on property is usually the least bang for your buck. Most families can easily swing cereal and milk, pop tarts, cereal bars, bagels and peanut butter (or wow butter in our case), or bananas in any room on property. Fuel up before you leave your room. (Ok, it's not about your big meal, but it can help save some money!)

Enjoy your next trip to Disney and think outside the box a bit when it comes to meals on property. You could save a little bit! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

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