On our recent trip to Walt Disney World, one thing I was especially aware of was our efforts to keep food costs down. In a previous post, I discussed how we integrated the Disney Dining Plan with the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Food can easily be one of the most expensive items in a Disney vacation budget, so it is always nice to discover ways to keep that cost manageable, and not have to give up the magic of a Disney vacation.
With that in mind, I came across an interesting article this past week from Fox News.com: How to Eat Cheaply on a Trip. Following are some of my favorite highlights:
Many of us grab our kids’ hands and race to the rides. Or, if you’re Melissa d’Arabian, who visited the parks last year with her husband and four kids, you grab the coupons you packed and race to the grocery store.
“I had planned out easy meals to make,” says d’Arabian, season five winner of “The Next Food Network Star” and host of the network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian.”
Her money-saving vacation strategy had several parts. Aside from basing her family in a condo where she could prepare at least some of their food – “I never leave a place where I have access to inexpensive food without feeding everyone,” she says – her vacation groceries yielded meals denser in calories than what she’d ordinarily serve back home.
“At home I try to get the most water-filled ingredients possible [like] fresh vegetables,” she says, but when traveling, food needs to be dense, portable, and high on long-term energy, and it’s easy enough to hydrate inexpensively with water throughout the day.
High on d’Arabian’s list of vacation snacks is trail mix she mixes herself, almond butter “dense with protein and calories,” and her favorite go-to snack, whole-grain, high-protein pasta with fiber and flax seeds rich in beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids.
She notes that while whole-grain pasta is often twice the price of white-flour pasta, “you’re getting a lot of value” on the nutrition side as well as a snack that fills you up. As for when to deploy the snacks, that also differs from her home game.
“The whole trick to [your family] enjoying the vacation is making sure that you’re in preventative mode all the time, d’Arabian says,” which may mean that prior to heading out to a restaurant “you step outside your normal mode of ‘no snacks an hour before dinner.’” Bending your usual rules not only helps to avoid public meltdowns, but it can be a lot cheaper than the alternative. “It’s not a money-saving strategy to order everything [on the menu] and see if something hits,” she says.
You can read the rest of the article for more great affordable disney family vacation ideas.
Have a magical day!