We love the Disney Dining plan but we don’t love the price tag. If we get the dining plan, you can absolutely bet that we have gotten it as part of the free dining plan and I have run the numbers to make sure it is the best possible deal.
V. Mouse and a huge Starbucks drink… thanks to snacks on free dining
We have learned to really enjoy a Disney trip without eating much of the food… especially as part of a park-free trip. Just consider this. On a trip where you don’t go into the park, you have time to prep food. If you can get food for less money, you are able to 1. Go on more trips and 2. Buy foods for your kids you don’t typically buy, making it still seem special. If this peeks your interest, read on.
How do I get food to myself?
This is probably one of your biggest questions. If you are driving, it is super simple. Stop at one of the many grocery stores near by. You can also Uber or Lyft if you are so inclined. Or:
Pack as much in your carry on and checked luggage as you. TSA has a list of what you can/ can’t carry. A few things I do know for a fact: 1. 5 people can go on a 4 night trip, packed in one checked bag, with a carry on each and still have room for 2 mini slow cookers, plates, cups, spices, diapers, and more. 2. TSA goes through food very carefully and they will likely have a good laugh at your expense when they find quart sized bags of frozen cooked ground beef in your carry on. 3. Any peanut butter over 3.2 oz needs to be in your checked luggage and will earn you an extra special rummage through your bag and a souvenir piece of paper explaining that your PB wasn’t really a threat.
Ship your pantry items to yourself. We use Amazon prime pantry and it is super easy. Address your package to yourself, arriving on such n such a day c/o insert hotel name, hotel address. Be sure to order a few days early. Bell service will store your package until you arrive. I find it helpful to call them with the tracking number once you arrive and they are pretty quick to deliver it. You may or may not have a $5 delivery fee added to your room bill – I have had it go both ways.
Get fresh/ refrigerated groceries delivered to you once you arrive. We used Amazon Prime Now. Delivery in 2 hours is free if you spend $35, which is easy to do. Food tends to be a bit more expensive than through Prime Pantry, but they have milk, cheese, sour cream, bananas, avocados, etc… so I feel it is worth it to order through both. They don’t allow shoppers to deliver straight to your room, so bell service will also have to bring this up to you. The app allows you to add a tip, which is super nice, as you don’t actually meet your shopper. Yet again, you may or may not have a $5 delivery fee added to your room bill.
Aldi delivers through Instacart, which we are extra excited about now! Check out our article on it. The cool thing is that you can one stop shop and not load your luggage/ carry on with food!
As always, there is more than one way to order food. I have heard great things about the Garden Grocer but have never used them myself. It seems as if every day a new grocery delivery option is opening up, so be sure to weigh your options!
How do I prepare it?
You have all your food delivered, so now what? This is what I find to be the fun part.
Slow cookers will be your best friend on a trip like this. No, not your huge 6 quart crock. We are talking about a couple 20 oz dipper sized ones, or a 3 quart mini model. They tend to weigh only a couple pounds each and take up very little space in your suitcase, plus you can shove clean socks/ undies in and around them. As always, for fire safety, make sure you never leave your slow cooker unattended.
You also have an iron in your room. Yeah, it sounds crazy, or maybe a bit strange, but you can prep a mean panini with an iron, some foil, and butter.
What are some sample meals?
As we add posts for meals, we will link the recipes:
- Breakfast tacos
- Slow cooker Oatmeal
- Slow cooker Grits
Slow cooker Cinnamon RollsOk, maybe not these. I have tried it a few different ways and can’t figure out how to make it taste good. Sorry!
- Microwave monkey bread surely makes up for the slow cooker cinnamon roll flops!
- Bagels and cream cheese
- Sloppy Joes – Start them around lunch with a can of manwich and ground beef.
- Tacos: ground beef with taco seasoning in one crock. Queso or bean dip in a dipper crock. Sour cream, grated cheese, and hot sauce left over from the breakfast tacos
- Paninis or grilled cheese on the iron
- Slow cooker “hotdog water” hotdogs with chili sauce in the dipper crock
- Slow cooker mac n cheese with bbq pulled chicken on top
- Chicken salad sandwiches on croissants, because what feels fancier than that? Bring the chicken down cooked, cubed, & frozen, then add mayo, poppy seeds, and apples once there.
- Jello no bake dessert
- Homemade Mickey shaped rice cereal treats
- Banana pudding
This is where you can really have fun. Order snacks you usually wouldn’t buy for your kids or yourself. Mini bags of chips, snack sized cookies, a favorite candy. Little apple sauce pouches and fruit cups can make you feel slightly healthier. You can order drinks, too. Cans of pop, beer, juice boxes, even Yoohoo. Even if you go mildly wild, you will still save a ton of money. If you have enough options, you won’t be as tempted to buy an overpriced drink or snack.
Setting up your “kitchen”:
Here is a great start for packing. Click on any pictures for my affiliate link to Amazon:
- Can opener
- Mini kitchen tools: hand held cheese grater, whisk, spatula, Knife/ cutting board
- Light weight plastic plates/ bowls/ cups and silverware for everyone
- Light weight storage containers in a few sizes to make dessert in, etc…
- A few large squares of foil & parchment, folded up
- A selection of spices. A med container is perfect for this. Also, raid your condiments for Taco Bell sauce packets, etc…
- Hand soap
- Dish soap
- Dish towels and hot pads – seriously, how cute are these!
- Scrubby or wash cloth
- 2 quart slow cooker for a smaller group:
- or a 3 quart slow cooker if you have a few more and a
- 20 oz dipper slow cooker – I seriously NEED this set!
Remember a few things as you start to plan. First, your fridge will be tiny (unless you can get Disney to deliver another one to you!) Make sure that you don’t bring or order more than you can fit. I was able to fit 2 quart sized bags of ground beef, 5-8oz packages of cheese, lunch meat, a gallon of milk, one pound of butter, a package of whipped cream cheese, and several cans of pop/yoohoo.
Second, things will take a bit longer and you will probably have to improvise. When I realized I needed melted butter for my Jello no bake dessert, I had to melt that in my mini dipper crock pot. Thankfully, I started on it plenty early enough and was mentally prepared for this not to be like any usual cooking experience!
Finally, plan to have a meal or two with leftovers. I have over planned/ bought for just about every trip I have cooked for and wished I had set aside a day to just munch on everything left.
Do you have any exciting recipe ideas? Do I sound crazy? Please comment!
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If you would like more help planning your Disney vacation, contact our friend Audra, a travel agent with Travelmation LLC, which is an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. She can help you plan the vacation of your dreams at no cost to you!