Vacation Food – What We Ate and How We Packed It to Disney World

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disney candy apples

Aren’t those the cutest candy apples?  We chose other things in this bakery, but I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these.

We were blessed to be able to take a family vacation to Disney World a few weeks ago.  The first part of our trip was spent with just the 6 of us in a rented townhouse.  For the second half, my parents and sister’s family joined us and we moved to an off-site pool home.  Renting the homes is one of the ways we keep the costs down.  (It also makes for a relaxing vacation.)

Another way we keep the budget under control is by taking our own food.

My mom cooks and freezes all kinds of things in the months before the trip, then packs it all up on dry ice to transport it from Indiana to Florida.  You can read more about that process here.

This was the first time that I’ve ever travelled with frozen food.  I usually just let mom do all the work, like a good daughter 😉

I made:

  • Spicy Garlic Chicken Pizza – This is one of our favorites.  It was fast and easy to make at the townhouse.  It travelled well too.
  • Chicken Gyros – Also good, travelled well and very fast to get on the table.  So much better than lunch meat sandwiches.
  • Beef and Bean Enchilada Stack casserole that was just ok – This was an experiment.  It traveled great, but I don’t think I will repeat it.

I had planned to pack these 3 meals on dry ice to be sure they stayed frozen.  However, when Jim went to Meijer to buy the dry ice, they didn’t carry it anymore.  Kroger and Walmart didn’t carry it either.  We ended up packing them in a small cooler, wrapping newspapers around them and covering with ice.  They were still frozen 13 hours later.

Mom and Dad also had trouble finding dry ice because the Meijer in their town was out of dry ice and wouldn’t be getting any more in time for the trip.  No other stores carry it.  They ended up getting some from a welder in town.  Kind of a strange and long story, the moral of which is double check your source for dry ice because sometimes they just stop carrying it! That’s not something you want to find out in the wee hours of the morning when you’re packing up the cooler.

Disney Restaurants

sci fi

The only hamburger I ate in nearly 2 weeks was in this restaurant called the Sci-Fi Dine-In.  This was the first time we’d ever been to the Sci-Fi and we really enjoyed it.  We shared burgers, fries and chocolate milkshakes.  It looks just like a drive-in movie theater and they play old movie trailers from the 50s, like “The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman”.

Here’s a picture of my kids pretending to fight in the car we ate in.  They really were just pretending.  I wouldn’t take a picture of the real thing 😉

sci fi arguing in car

We also had a late breakfast/early lunch at the Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Resort.  All of our other meals were either at the house or at counter-service restaurants in the parks.  We did manage to eat around the world in Epcot one night. Yum!

Where do you eat on vacation? Do you bring food with you or eat out or a combination?

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  1. Looks really fun Tiffany! Looks like a good time was had by all!

  2. Thanks for all your menus — What did your mom bring?
    You are the inspriation behind our freezer cooking sessions and blog.

  3. The drive in is great. The mouse apples are adorable! Great pictures!

  4. So you had a great time – perfect!

    We do the combination bit. While we’re traveling we take our own snacks and lunch and then at the end of the day we eat somewhere near the hotel. At our destination if we aren’t housesitting, we most always rent a place where we can just relax and make our own meals. Besides saving money, I just like home cooked better. So does hubby. 🙂

  5. I tried the dry ice because of a post you put up last year. I moved and thought I would pack my freezer contents in a cooler with dry ice, well oops I forgot the cooler right there on my kitchen floor. Needless to say I never found out if it worked. I bought my dry ice at Publix in Georgia. I have seen it a hardware stores too.

    • Jewelry Rockstar – Oh no! That’s too bad about the cooler. I’ve done the same thing before though. Now I have a list of bags and things I have to make sure get put in the car. I don’t trust myself. Thanks for the thought of looking in hardward stores for the dry ice. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

  6. LOVE Disney! Those candy apples are so cute. We are going back to Disney/Universal in December.

  7. I heart disney.

  8. We haven’t done Disney with our son yet, even though it is my favorite place ON EARTH! I’ve been several times as an adult, though, and I’ve always done breakfast at the condo or hotel and packed a sandwich for lunch, then eaten dinner at the parks. We also eat our way thru Epcot.

    When we vacation in the Florida Keys, we buy groceries when we arrive and cook all week. The last 2 times we’ve been, we were lucky–we caught over a dozen snapper, so we had a wonderful fish dinner, complete with Key Lime sauce made from limes from the tree in the yard of the rental house!

  9. We do a combo depending on where we’re going – this July we’re at Disney Paris so will eat at the hotel for breakfast, take lunch bits along to snack on and eat a restaurant meal. Other times I pack and cook almost everything.

    We went to the Sci Fi Restaurant for the movies so only ate dessert 🙂

  10. I bought my dry ice from the place where the ice cream men buy theirs. its a wholesale place called Excel. I usually buy some candy and ice cream while I’m there. Cheapest place to fill a pinata!!

  11. When we did Disney two years ago we were on a budget. We were staying at a Disney hotel b/c we were there for a conference for my husband (so his expense fund paid for the hotel). I packed breakfast stuff like dry cereal, granola bars, fruit, etc. I also packed snacks like goldfish crackers, trail mix, fruit snacks, and pretzels. The other thing I packed that was really helpful was empty water bottles and Crystal Light mix packets. I filled the water bottles each morning with ice from the hotel and water and then we had drinks and could refill at water fountains. Although we ate most of our dinners out we were able to save quite a bit by just having breakfast, snacks, and drinks without having to buy anything extra. Our small children really eat better during the day having several small meals/snacks so it worked well for us.

  12. Looks like a great trip and I love that first picture! How cute are they??

  13. we’ve done a bit of it all on vacations, although I will say we have not taken our kids to Disney and they are very very very deprived and abused because of that fact! 🙂 at least that is what they tell us.

    The eating thing depends on where we stay, and as our family has gotten bigger and we’ve done a few vacas, I do try and find places where we can do our own food as we want because eating out EVERY meal (even if bfast is provided at the hotel) gets exhausting, expensive and inconvenient.

    When we do have cooking and refrigeration, I tend to only bring along snacks and ingredients and then cook/assemble at our destination. The idea of premaking frozen casseroles etc is actually interesting – we only drive 4 hours, so I shouldn’t let that deter me!

    Thanks for the food for thought and I second someone’s request – give us the scoop on what your mom packs. My mom, although spectacular in many ways, was not a good cook so I love learning vicariously through other mom’s!

  14. Now your making me want to go to Disney World! Last time we went, we rented a four bedroom home and cooked most of our dinners at the house as well as packed lunches into the park. it definitely saves a ton of money doing it that way. We did have a few meals at the park of course. That’s half the fun!

  15. Just joined, this sounds like a great site. Loved the Disney pics, I thought the pink shirt gal in the pic was you until I saw your other pic. Makes me glad I only have boys :-)!! All your kids are beautiful.

  16. My son and I went to Disney and stay at the All Star Value Disney Hotel. (small room no kitchnette) We were only there 5 nights. So, I bought a small crock pot and made my supper meals in it, and served salad on the side. Pasta, chicken, stew and … we had lunch on the site and bagels and cream cheese, pj and jam in the room for breakfast. Making supper in the room while I was not there all day took some planning, but saved me a ton of cash. Only once I asked the house keeping to turn on the crock pot at around 2pm, lol, if not it would have been way overcooked. Next time I’ll bring a timer, or buy one with a timer. At the end of my stay I gave the crock pot to the house keeper as a present with the receipt.

  17. I am planning on doing this for our trip to WDW this December. The crowds will be really bad during Xmas and I am trying so hard to stay on budget for this trip. I plan on making shredded Mexican beef for tacos, fixings for calzones (I use Pillsbury pizza in a tube), sloppy joes, and breakfast stuff, like sausage gravy and muffins. We have a large family of 6 and the cost of food in the parks is too much. We will save for a special meal–probably at the Whispering Canyon Cafe:))))

    • Shannon, have a fabulous time on your vacation! Have you heard of Tour Guide Mike? It’s a website that helps you plan your vacation to avoid the lines. His methods work even during the busiest times. There is a fee to join – about $20ish, I think, but it is so worth it. I’m not affiliated with TGM at all, but I’ve used the site to plan several trips and I love it. Your menu ideas sound great too!

  18. Musikmama says:

    When we have stayed at various hotels, I brought taco meat that just needed to be heated up, which I can do even if there is only a microwave. Chili is a good standby too. When we stayed at a hotel for more than one night, I put the chili in the crock-pot and it was done when we got back. Feeding families with older kids can get really costly but we try to find some deals and bypass fast food. I also cut up fruits and vegetables so they were easy to grab.

  19. I had never even considered freezing and packing my meals for a vacation. What a great idea!


  1. […] The filling for these lettuce wraps is perfect for making ahead and freezing.  I see this becoming one of my vacation food recipes. […]

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