Cooking in Disney World

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The often unpredictable price of eating out while on vacation can be quite costly. My advice to friends is always the same when choosing a hotel for a family vacation; choose one that offers, at the very least, an efficiency kitchen to cook basic meals for the family while enjoying time away. Sure, it sounds great to spend a week away from the daily grind of preparing meals and cleaning up the kitchen, but a week’s worth of family meals eaten out can be mighty costly. And its always disappointing to find that when my family is ready to eat, the chosen restaurant has a line out the door that seems to be a mile long. Once inside and finally seated, the food never seems to measure up for the cost put out. Don’t get me wrong, we have our favorite restaurants in Disney World and we always make reservations at ‘Ohana, in the Polynesian Resort and the Hollywood Brown Derby. We absolutely wouldn’t miss the Polynesian inspired foods served throughout ‘Ohana’s Dinner Show and the incredible combination of flavors carefully mixed together in the Cobb Salad served at the Brown Derby. But, my oh my, things certainly add up quickly. I remember a time when it was common practice to have a soup or salad accompany a main dish or a basket of bread was given before the meal. Nowadays, everything seems to come with an added cost.
This week, our family spent our spring break vacation in Disney World. We are Disney Vacation Club Members and have ownership in Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Purchasing this property over twenty years ago certainly has been a great vacation savings for us. I thought I would take this opportunity to explain how I manage the food budget while on vacation. While we have a few favorite restaurants that we always visit while in Disney, for the most part, we really try to commit to eating “in” for the majority of our meals throughout the week. The vacation home that we stay in comes equipped with a sizable kitchen so I can prepare anything from the basic peanut-butter and jelly sandwich to a delicious pork roast dinner for the family. As mentioned earlier, finding a hotel room or suite with a small efficiency kitchen can really save money in the long run. You may have to pay a little more for the room up front but the food savings can be incredible for a family.
Here are some of the basic meals that I usually prepare when traveling with the family. They’re often prepared with convenience mixes or prepackaged ingredients but they fit the bill for a week away from home on a budget.

On day one, I usually buy groceries for the week. (I also bring from home lots of commonly used dry spices.)

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Some of our favorite vacation meals include…

Spaghetti with meat sauce, crescent rolls and Caesar salad,

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Cheeseburgers with crispy pickles and chips,

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Tacos with homemade salsa and guacamole,

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And finally, pork roast with corn and mashed potatoes,

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It’s a great idea to look at the online weekly sale flyer for the local grocery store where you intend to shop. This way, you can plan ahead to shop for deals. This week, as I grabbed my shopping cart and sale flyer at the front of the store, I noticed pork roast and ground beef were on sale for a great price. I picked up both for separate meals. The ground beef was used for the tacos, spaghetti, and hamburgers. The pork roast was used for the pork roast dinner and pulled pork sandwiches. (I shredded the left over pork and slathered it with barbecue sauce, then topped the extra hamburger buns with the tender shredded meat.)

Now, a vacation wouldn’t be a vacation without some sweet treats…

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J and I will be celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary tomorrow so I made a Mickey cake for our after dinner dessert.

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Some of the other food items purchased for the week include:
Old Fashioned Oatmeal
Greek Yogurt
Breakfast Cereal
Milk
Orange juice
Fruit
Peanut Butter
Bread
Jelly

For Dinners, I purchased:
Ground Beef
Pasta
Ragu- Chunky Garden Style Sauce
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Taco Shells
Taco Seasoning Packets
Tomatoes
Onions
Shredded Cheese
Cilantro
Lime juice
Avocados
Pork Roast
Barbecue Sauce
Instant Potatoes
Frozen Corn
Romaine Lettuce
Caesar Salad Dressing
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Hamburger Buns
Pickles
Doritos
Chocolate Cake Mix
Ice Cream
Chocolate Frosting Mix

I paid a little over $150.00 for a week’s worth of food and was really able to stretch my food dollars.
Each of these basic meals can be prepared quickly with very little effort. Convenience mixes and prepackaged food items help to cut down on time spent in the kitchen. Paper plates and disposable tableware can certainly save time on clean up. Thankfully, our vacation kitchen is well equipped with a set of dishes, a full fridge and a dish washer.

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I’ve been cooking in Disney World for years and these meal ideas have been long standing family favorites. My crew seems to enjoy staying away from crowded restaurants and having a few home cooked meals while enjoying our time with Mickey Mouse in the bright Florida sunshine.

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12 thoughts on “Cooking in Disney World

  1. This is a great idea! I imagine with kids it makes a difference to have a few nights “in” too, because otherwise you are on the go right up until bedtime. I say “imagine” because I haven’t taken the kids on vacation yet. But I will be planning to make food when I do! Thanks 🙂

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    • Thanks for your comment, Jessica. You are so right…it seems that choosing to eat out isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be when traveling with young children. We have been visiting Disney every year since our children were as young as 6 months old and we find it much more enjoyable to avoid the crowds when possible and eat “in” whenever we can. Have a great day!

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    • Thanks, Sophie! I’m assuming that you are referring to the Mickey Cake… We found the mold for the cake and the muffin pan earlier this week. They are both made of silicone. Lately, I have been baking in silicone pans and I really love how the cakes and muffins turn out. They seem to be supernmoist and the clean up is a snap.
      Thanks for stopping by… Have a great day!

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  2. Over here in France, people holiday much more often in “self-catering” accommodation, it’s handy because you can decide when and how often you eat out.
    A good tip is to buy the non-perishable stuff before you get to the resort because often the supermarkets on site are over-priced.

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    • It’s been quite relaxing, Shanna. It’s always great getting away with family. I’m am also thrilled that we were able to escape from the crazy cold temperatures at home. I know these convenience mixes are far from the fresh from-scratch foods that you prepare but it works for us when on vacation. Have a good day, Shanna!

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  3. Your blog inspires me, Linda. You’ve now got me thinking a lot about a short holiday we are having soon – and another short one in the middle of the year. I’ve never planned a weekly menu for these trips before, but you’ve inspired me to do it. A little forward planning and look at the beautiful meals you’ve prepared at such a good price. Thanks for all the information and the great ideas. Also, CONGRATULATIONS on your 21st Wedding Anniversary! What a very special milestone. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – well – J is a very lucky man! Gorgeous mini Mickey cakes and big Mickey cake! And so lucky you get to go to Disney World every year! The Committee and I went to The Epcot Centre in 1999 – pre-twins – and loved it! One day we’ll get the kids there – and me on a plane again!! Thanks for sharing all of this. xoxoxoxoxoxox

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  4. Always great to hear from you, Dani! A little preparation before the trip can save lots of time and $$. Create lots of family memories by having everyone pitch in while preparing meals. A couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese and a bagged salad can make for a quick and inexpensive meal.
    Hope all is well with you, Dani! Linda

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