Tip of the week: Split meals to save money... and your waistline

October 24, 2012, 2:53 PM · Most restaurants serve dishes that offer way more calories than you need in a single meal. That half-pound burger or 32-ounce cola might look like a bargain when compared with smaller portion sizes, but is it really a deal to spend a few extra cents to get more food than you actually need? Finish those bad boys, and yeah, you'll feel full. But make it a habit, and your clothes will feel fuller than ever, as your weight balloons.

Monte Cristo
As yummy as one piece of Disneyland's Monte Cristo sandwich might be, you do not want to eat an entire plate of this by yourself. Trust me.

Don't finish those meals by yourself. And don't let them go to waste, either. Split your meals, and you'll not only save money on the per-person cost of eating out, you'll avoid the urge to overeat all that extra food on your plate.

Splitting meals not only saves you money inside a theme park, it can be a great way to cut expenses to help you save money for your next vacation, too. Share when you eat out in your hometown to start cutting your spending, so you'll have money left at the end of the month to put in your vacation fund. (Remember, the best way to save money on a vacation is to pay for it up front - so you can avoid big interest charges while paying your credit card bills for months after you come home.)

Be careful when pricing vacations that include dining, such as the Disney Dining Plan. If you're considering one of the Walt Disney World vacation packages that include "free" dining, consider how much it would cost to split meals on that same vacation, if you stayed in a comparable, but less expensive, hotel. Would that be the better deal?

If you decide to go with a Disney Dining option, switch your thinking from "find the place that serves the most food for the lowest cost" to "find the place that serves the best food, in reasonable portions, for the most money." Remember, you're spending credits, not cash. And sharing meals won't help you get value, so go for the best quality food you can find to get your money's worth. One of the ironies of modern food service is that the better quality restaurants tend to serve the more reasonable portion sizes. Take advantage of that.

What are some of your favorite tips for getting the most value from dining out?

Replies (7)

October 24, 2012 at 3:54 PM · I do this! In fact, splitting meals at any restaurant can be a good idea (if appetites aren't an issue).

At DLR, I also use my pass to get a discount & always get water instead of other beverages.

October 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM · I ate a Monte Cristo when I went to Disneyland last summer. After that I only rode rides that were wheelchair accessible since I became too heavy for transfers :^0
October 24, 2012 at 5:33 PM · I would say do some research.

I will also say that the 2 credit meal plan places are usually the best and worth it.

As for eating less, you are on vacation! I will admit that I try to get the best food for my money.

My family has a rule: no burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, or pizza at Disney World (except Via Napoli)

October 24, 2012 at 7:30 PM · At Islands of Adventure, I find that Thunder Falls near Jurassic Park River Adventure offers the best portion size for your money, particularly the Rotisserie Chicken platter or the wraps. I went with some friends and we all agreed the portion was so large you could split it amongst two people and both be satisfied. It may just be my perception, but the portions are much better than what is offered at Three Broomsticks. Like one of the above posters, I often times go for water, but if I want to change it up and still be frugal I bring along some Country Time lemonade to go packets and add one in. Voila! 25 cent lemonade! ;-)
October 24, 2012 at 9:32 PM · This is so true. That's why Americans are so overweight. Me and my girl friend split everything except for dinner, we eat a nice full meal.
October 25, 2012 at 9:22 AM · You get the most value by NOT overeating. Do not order the appetizers, the desserts, and the drinks. Only order the entrees, but get the smaller portions. If the entrees can be easily split like the Chicken meals, I will buy a large entree and give the kids one chicken piece eat.

You forget a simple way of saving money. Bring the packable sandwiches, chips, snacks, and soda. I will bring pre-popped popcorn in a baggie. I done this at theater shows.

Remember why you go to a certain park. At Disneyland, I think of Churros. At DCA, I think of corn dogs. You can bring them to the park. Pull them out when you have a craving.

October 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM · That's right Anon. My party has brought in snacks for in between meals (bananas, grapes, chips, etc) And everyone brings water.

We eat before arriving to the park, & usually on do 1 main meal at the park (cause we will eat after leaving the park as well)

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