Veronica in the SavEars Facebook Group shared some excellent tips for packing your own food for the Disney parks:
We flew Southwest, so our checked bags were free. This is probably still cost effective compared to the dining plan even if you had to pay for a checked bag. I also felt like we had more park time not having to worry about eating somewhere.
In the end, I was pretty happy with packing my food. I would pack food again, but I would do it differently. Most of the heavy stuff I packed, we didn’t use and had to carry back home. I also spent $175 at the grocery store, but I did end up carrying quite a bit home on the plane.
Milk and cereal– Inconvenient, heavy, and leaked (was double bagged so it was fine), so would not do that again. If I absolutely needed milk, I would take powdered or canned. The kids didn’t like carrying a cup of cereal either. Both are off my list for next time.
Tortilla substitute for bread– Traveling with it worked out well because they have less volume and don’t have to worry about smashing it. The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches didn’t work because all the pbj squished out and made a giant mess. If we carry it inside a container, it would be fine. I’d still try this again with a container. PB&J stripes (the two in one stuff) tasted weird to me! I was going for easy/convenient, but the weird flavor was enough of a turn off I would not do this again. I would pack a separate peanut butter and a squeeze jar of jelly instead. Since we used our wait time in lines to eat on most days, making the sandwiches the morning of the park day or the evening before worked better, but because of the leaking problem, we did not use this as much as planned.
Pepperoni, crackers, and cheese – The pepperoni and crackers were great. I didn’t take enough crackers or pepperoni for what we used it for, and I would use this more often on the next trip. The pepperoni was also popular just to eat as a snack. The cheese got a little too warm and oily and did not separate easily (bought pre sliced but my brand did not have the paper separators). I’d probably just skip the sliced cheese, and carry cheese sticks instead. Or, carry a tub of cream cheese to spread on.
Applesauce packs – The squeeze pouches are better for us since we don’t have to worry with a spoon, and they can be closed off and repacked if there is not a trash can nearby or not finished eating.
Cheese sticks – worked well, but was easy to overlook when packing for the day since they were in the fridge.
Granola bars, protein bars – these worked well. The soft kind didn’t break apart. I didn’t take any of the hard ones like Nature Valley so not sure how well they would have stayed together.
Protein powder – My son is very mindful of his protein intake, so he brought some for breakfast each morning. This worked well, but I recommend double bagging.
Breakfast bars (crispy, like BelVita)– these broke apart and got pretty crumbly. I’d skip these.
Soft fruity breakfast bars– the worked well and were not too messy even when smashed. I don’t care for them (too sweet) but my kids liked them. Would use this again.
Pop tarts – even though they broke up a little, I’d probably still take them again, and not pack it so tightly in the bag. I would favor the fruit filled breakfast bars over this for the kids.
Canned ham with crackers and cheese – This worked well, but only if you have the right number of people to eat it all up or don’t have hangups about throwing the rest away. The leftovers were rather messy in a zip lock, but still got eaten. Also I would take a plate or two with me for a better surface to prep on. We did not find a table, and it was pretty annoying and messy trying to balance it all on my lap on a bench.
Summer sausage – Mom and dad brought this. It was a little hard to open and little tough to slice (which is why I decided against this in the first place). It is still an OK option, but since I like canned meats, those are more convenient for us.
Vienna sausages – not everyone likes Vienna sausages, but my family does. I would take more of these, one can per person per meal I intend to use them.
Bagels and cream cheese – Great for breakfast that is portable, and bagels aren’t prone to smashing like bread! We used the tub cheese instead of block, and I would do it that way again because it is easier to spread and easier to put away again when done serving.
Pre-packaged single serve “dinners” of tuna, hummus, or chicken and crackers – I would do this again. Very convenient compared to carrying all the ingredients to actually make chicken salad, but not as tasty. This makes a very light meal even for a small child, so I would pack two apiece. The cost at Aldi was 1.19 each. I still wouldn’t rule out simply packing simplified ingredients (mayo) for chicken or tuna salad and carrying that, especially if I had a container to mix the salad in the morning. I really hate spending my time in the parks prepping or eating food!
Trail mix – I made my own trail mix with goldfish (several flavors), peanuts, pretzels, peanut butter pretzels, yogurt covered raisins, chocolate covered raisins, and banana chips. I pre-arranged one bag per person per day. Each day was a little different.
Powdered soup – I took Consomme powdered soup, and I could see this working for a cold weather visit if you carry an insulated thermos for hot water and cups for each person. We instead used it in the room. This probably still wouldn’t make it on my list unless I planned on the thermos/cups in park.
Hot dogs at the campfire – YES, we saw people doing this! I would definitely plan on taking hot dogs and eating them for dinner straight off the sticks (not waste time with buns) at the Chip and Dale sing along or other campfire location! There was also some confusion about the cost of sticks- sticks were only .59, but the smores kits were 10. At first we didn’t realize the plain sticks were an option. My kids really weren’t that into roasting marshmallows, but we didn’t get there very early and by the time we got the sticks, it was starting.
Water – We were glad we carried refillable water bladders and bottles so we didn’t have to go hunting for water fountains. The bladders kept us hydrated better (easier to drink while walking, and a novelty for the kids), but make sure they are good quality. One of the valves failed and was leaking everywhere. The bottles are certainly adequate.
Packing for the parks – I had all my food, except the sandwiches/main course and refrigerated , pre-packed in zip locks and portioned out for the entire day. I liked this method and would do it again, but I would have each of my children carry their own fanny pack so that they have a place to access and stow their own snacks, but still small enough it doesn’t have to be removed for rides. I was annoyed having to take off my backpack every time.
We carried one large backpack with a waist strap plus one large fanny pack with water and the weight was ok, it was just a little inconvenient. On the last day we carried a second cheap school backpack to accommodate cold weather and rain gear. I would get another high quality backpack (one that has pouches on the waist strap for things that are used frequently) so everything isn’t packed in there so tight, and have both adults carry them each day. I would do two food-for-the-day zip locks, and list out on the bag what items aren’t already in the bag (refrigerator, prep that morning stuff), and then each adult carries one bag.
Learn more about Walt Disney World Dining and get suggestions for where to eat, how to use the Disney Dining Plan and more.