24 October 2012

31 Days:: Planning your Meals

{Dining Series}
Welcome to today's topic: Planning your Meals! Now that you have a little more info about bringing vs. buying your meals at WDW, here is how I go about pre-planning everything. I explained a bit {here} in my Budget Planning post, but I'll elaborate today!

incredible zucchini fries at Portobello's at Downtown Disney

Step 1: Worksheets & Lists
Grab your Meal Planner worksheet {from this post}, your Budget Worksheet {from this post}, and your Shopping List from {this post}. Meals are where you can really make or break a budget.

Step 2: Restaurants
Check out my previous posts about different places to eat in each park (Magic, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), as well as places to eat at {Disney's Boardwalk} and {Downtown Disney}. Don't forget any offsite locations, like {Sea World or Universal Studios} and don't forget even your resort's restaurant(s). See if any of those restaurants strike your fancy, or check out more restaurants on Disney's website {here} and AllEar's website {here}. Narrow it down to one restaurant per meal, just a few of your top picks, or skip this step all together if you want to bring all your meals! Don't forget to make your ADRs as soon as possible- check out my previous post {here} for more details. Plug in your restaurants and confirmation numbers on your Budget Worksheet and Meal Planner.

If you know you'll be back again soon, perhaps leave some restaurants to try on your next trip. Since we've been able to visit yearly, our restaurant choices are generally a few favorites, a few new choices, and a few brought meals. This helps cut costs, and we always have something to look forward to next trip- either some favorites we didn't get to go to this year and/or some new ones to try!

Step 3: Restaurant Menus
(Skip if you're bringing all meals!) Check out the menu for each restaurant you've chosen, and guestimate what you and your family will likely eat. I generally chose the highest priced item, if I'm not sure if we'll feel like splurging that night or not. Total up all the meal choices, add an extra $5-10 (in case you want another coffee or soda!), add Florida's 6.5% sales tax, and add your 10-20% tip for the waiter. This should give you an upper-ended estimate for what the meal will cost. Hopefully you'll come in under budget this way, but you'll have padded the budget just in case. Plug in these costs to your Budget Worksheet.

Step 4: Meal Planning
(Skip if you're eating out all meals!) Check out my previous post about {Bringing Your Meals}, and decide what you'll have for each of your meals that you plan to pack yourself. Whether it's granola for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, or staying in and cooking rice and beans for dinner, figure out what you'll be having! Plug that into your Meal Planner and fill out your Shopping List accordingly. For meals that I'm bringing, I plug in the total amount for the groceries into one of the rows on my Budget Worksheet (or you can divide the total grocery cost by the number of meals you bring and plug that total into each row where you're bringing that meal... you're call!). 

Step 5: Cutting Costs
A few ideas to cut costs down during your trip...
  • bring your own snacks to the park 
  • bring a reusable non-glass water bottle and refill it at the water fountains
  • skip the sodas at meals and opt for water (which is generally free of charge, or at least cheaper)
  • skip desserts and appetizers, or share one amongst the whole table
  • Quick Service restaurants will be cheaper than Table Service restaurants, and no tip needed!
  • lunch at Table Service restaurants will be cheaper than dinner (and often the same or similar menus)

Nothing too complicated here today, but I wanted to show you step by step how I figure out where to eat our meals! Hope this helped a bit :) Check back tomorrow when I'll be starting my Insider Info mini series and sharing transportation tips about getting around WDW once you're there!

1 comment:

RHome410 said...

Step 5 is a good list of tips for spousal dates! ...How to have a date without breaking the budget. ;-)