18 October 2012

31 Days:: Bringing your Meals

{Dining Series}
Welcome to today's topic: Bringing your Meals! When bringing your meals to the parks, take a look first {here on the Disney website} at their official policy on food brought with you. Let's start off with a free shopping list printable, decked out just for Disney!

{printable list here}

There's a few ideas for bringing food with you down to Disney...
  • driving: bring cooler of your own food
  • plane/train/shuttles: bring pre-made non-refridgerator foods in your luggage
  • drive/car rental: head to the supermarket once you arrive (and meal plan ahead of time!) 
We like to bring food in our checked bags, and this trip we'll have a rental car and there's a supermarket right next to our resort, so we'll meal plan before we head down and purchase foods there. If you buy food there, I'd strongly recommend meal planning ahead of time- we winged it our first trip and ended up throwing away a lot of food.

If you bring your meals to the park, there are locker rentals located near the entrance to each park where you could leave your cooler until meal time. One less thing to lug around the parks all day, but factor in enough time to head to the front of the park to grab your meals (not ideal if you're tight on time because you want to catch the afternoon parade!).

What to Eat? 
Where you'll be staying and what type of kitchen facilities (or lack thereof) that you'll have access to, that will mostly determine what foods you might bring with you to Disney. Here are some ideas for different types of foods that could travel well...

Easy To Prepare In A Standard Hotel Room
  • granola
  • trail mix or GORP
  • oatmeal packets
  • grits packets
  • dry cereals
  • apples, oranges, and other non-refrigerator-necessary fruits
  • PB&J fixins
  • bread (just surround it with clothes or put it in a box to cushion it during travels)
  • nutella
  • tomatoes, bananas, and some other softer fruits (I'd put them in a container to protect them from bruising and contain any juice leakage!)
If You Have A Kitchenette
  • rice
  • quinoa
  • canned veggies, fruits, soups, etc
  • beans (canned or dry)
Supermarket Shopping Upon Arrival
Again, I'd recommend menu planning ahead of time so that you don't over buy food like we did! Some items you could pre-package and bring with you to avoid buying a large container at the supermarket and throw away much of it at the end of your trip! Here are some ideas...
  • spice packets- put together all of the spices you'll need for each meal in a baggie, this way you're not buying a bunch of spice containers there just to use for a week, and you also don't have to skip adding spices to your meals and have bland meals all week!
  • bring half, buy half- for example, if you're making rice & beans, bring the pre-measured rice in a baggie with you, but save space in your suitcase by buying the beans at the supermarket
  • condiments- sugar, salt, and any other items that you use in smaller quantities
  • water bottle- if you don't like tap water, bring a reusable water bottle and buy jugs of water at the supermarket to refill your bottle, cheaper than buying a flat of disposable water bottles
  • extra water bottles- leave the ice packs at home, instead fill up a spare water bottle or two and pop it in the freezer overnight, when you head to the parks the following day use the frozen water bottle for an ice pack, it will keep your meal cold but be melted enough to provide a nice cold beverage with lunch!
  • tea & coffee- bring a few tea bags, pre-measure loose leaf tea into a baggie and toss in a measuring spoon along with some loose leaf tea bags, pre-grind your coffee and toss in a baggie with a measuring spoon, and bring your own coffee filters! 

Where to Eat? 
Below, I'll suggest some options for each meal. You can, of course, bring every meal to the parks or eat every meal back at the resort. In our opinion, we like to mix and match- bring some meals and buy some meals! That's just us, so here are some other options we'd recommend for each meal!

BREAKFAST suggestions....
  • at the resort before you leave for the parks
  • at a park restaurant, many of the breakfasts are buffet-style and feature characters!
LUNCH suggestions...
  • brought with you and enjoyed in one of the Quiet Places I'll share later in the month, if you eat at non-peak lunch time, you could always grab a free table at any of the quick service eateries too
  • enjoyed back at your resort for a mid-day break from the parks
  • "on-the-go" as some light snacks or snacking throughout the day
  • park restaurant (often the same menu as dinner, but cheaper)
  • grab a seat for the afternoon parade about 30-45 minutes early, you'll have a prime viewing location and finish up eating just in time to enjoy the entertainment!
DINNER suggestions...
  • park restaurant (if you don't mind the cost), we like to take a break after a long day on our feet and have dinner as a sit down meal. Especially if this is the only meal we eat at the parks that day, we think it's worth the slightly higher cost.
  • at the resort after you leave the parks, and you can always return to the parks for the evening shows or parades
  • brought with you and enjoyed in one of the Quiet Places I'll share later in the month, if you eat at non-peak dinner time, you could always grab a free table at any of the quick service eateries too

I hope these suggestions and ideas help you consider what to do if you plan to bring your own food either to Florida and/or to the parks! Check back in tomorrow when I talk about our favorite meal places at Magic Kingdom! Hope to see you then :)

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