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Restaurant Hacks for Kids That Make Eating Out Easier

Eating out with kids can be an ordeal. You just want an enjoyable meal but often feel rushed and busy cutting food, entertaining the kids and wiping up messy faces (all while trying to eat a hot meal yourself!) What if you have a picky eater and have to pack food that they’ll actually eat? Then there’s the potential for mess. A BIG mess. Is it better just to eat at home? I like to eat out, especially when traveling, but sometimes I dread it with all the kids! Here are my travel dining hacks for kids, including products that can make eating out with kids easier!

I received free product for several of the items mentioned in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

How to Take Young Kids to a Restaurant – Travel Dining Hacks for Kids

To be fully honest, when we’re at home we don’t really eat out in restaurants very often. Restaurant dining with kids is reserved for times when we’re traveling and far from our kitchen. Being able to enjoy a special meal out is something we don’t do often, but absoutely plan for when we travel. Since we have a toddler, kindergartener and two teens, I have a bag of tricks to keep them entertained and happy until the food arrives! (Hint: This doesn’t have to include electronic devices, keep reading!) I’ve included my travel dining hacks for kids with lots of tips on eating out as well as the must have travel items for babies, big kids and toddlers when restaurant dining is in your plans.

Choosing the Best Restaurants for Kids

Sure, you can take your kid to just about any restaurant you want, but do you really want to? I know I don’t want to eat in a fancy place with my noisy toddler and feel like I’m needing to shush her every 2 seconds when she uses her “outside” voice indoors! Personally when I’m eating in a restaurant with my kids I choose a place that might be just a bit more noisy and more on the casual side.

Before you step inside, check out the ambiance and weigh whether you think it’s a good place for your kiddos. Second, peek at the menu. If there’s something there that your kids will eat, then proceed! If you have a picky eater in the family, see my post with practical dining tips for at home or on the road.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

What to Order Kids in a Restaurant?

When we go out to eat (which isn’t very often), we usually encourage the kids to order something they don’t usually eat at home. Why get buttered spaghetti noodles when you can order steak and baked potato with all the fixings?!

My middle son always orders chicken nuggets and fries because we simply don’t feed him that at home. For him, that’s his special restaurant meal. I’m not going to spend dinner out arguing with him to try something new, especially if I may get push back. Restaurant dining isn’t the time to pressure your kids. And if nuggets and fries is something he’ll eat (and usually finish!) then that’s what I let him order!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Give ’em what they want! If ordering nuggets & fries will get them to eat, then so be it!

1. Table Covers Keep Food From Touching Dirty Tables

If you’ve been eating out with kids before, you know that the food doesn’t always stay on the plate. In fact, if given a plate of food my two-year old will immediately dump all the contents directly onto the table! Instead of giving your toddler an entire plate to herself, dole out a few pieces here and there to minimize mess. I use disposable table covers so I know her food stays away from germs.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

The moment right before the pizza hit the table – thank goodness for the disposable table cover!

2. Portable High Chair for Babies and Toddlers

Dirty restaurant highchair? Skip toting around the bulky cover and consider the Totseat Chair Harness. Quickly convert a regular chair into a secure seat for babies on the go.

3. Drink Up! Kid’s Travel Cups That Are Easy to Clean

My baby daughter used to make the biggest mess when she tried to drink out of a cup. She never grasped how to drink out of a bottle and drinking from a sippy cup had been equally challenging. Fortunately she learned how to drink out of a straw very early on. But that still didn’t minimize the mess (she tended to let whatever she doesn’t swallow dribble down her chin!)

When we went on vacation, I brought along a set of Silikids Siliskin Silicone Sippy Tops. These silicone tops stretch over your own cup, turning it into a child-friendly sipper. While in the hotel room, I was able to convert a small drinking glass into a sippy cup for milk. And when taking her in the stroller, I placed a Siliskin Sippy Top onto a plastic cup filled with water.

The Siliskin Sippy Top has tiny holes that do not leak out liquid. The child has to gently bite on the top and suck to drink. This made it much less of a mess because my daughter only took in what she was swallowing. I really liked having these on-the-go to convert any cup into a sipper. They are dishwasher and microwave safe, though I just washed by hand in the hotel bathroom sink.

I also have the Silikids Siliskin Silicone Straw Cup. I’ve always been hesitant to purchase sippy cups with straws because of the cleaning aspect (tiny parts are challenging to get totally clean, even in the dishwasher).

This cup is only three simple parts and all can be boiled in water to sanitize. The straw is really quite big for my toddler daughter to use but my preschooler drinks from it perfectly (and I don’t have to worry about spills in the car).

4. Entertaining Ideas for Baby

I’ve taken my baby on a few trips by myself, including traveling alone to Walt Disney World. If you don’t have extra hands, make sure to pack a few things that will make your dining experience more enjoyable. A few toys for entertaining baby and a clever strap that keeps the bottle or sippy cup from falling to the floor.

If your baby is in the loud screaming-at-the-top-of-their-lungs phase request a seat on the patio where the extra noise may be better absorbed. If Disney is your destination, check out this post with additional tips for dining with a baby.

5. Keep ‘Em Clean with Disposable Bibs

Other than taking extra clothes with you (always a good idea anyway, I guess), a bib is the best way to keep clothes clean when eating out with kids. A disposable bib is even better! Pop it on, fold in the bottom to catch any food that falls and then toss it when done with the meal. So much better than toting around crusty clothes!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Disposable bibs are a must in my travel bag!

6. Best Travel Snack Ideas for Kids

Despite your best efforts for choosing kid-friendly restaurants, some kids just won’t eat. Consider packing in a few of their favorite snacks that you know they’ll eat. I like the b. box Snack Pack. There are two separate compartments. And it comes with a child-sized utensil that snaps in to the lid!

In between meals or while on the road, try the Munchkin Snack Catcher. I use it in the car with my toddler and big kids! You can fill it up with an age-appropriate snack (fishy crackers for little ones, trail mix for older kids). This really helps to minimize spills and mess in the car when they drop it (because you know they will!)If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

7. Kid’s Restaurant Busy Bag (Aka: The Device-Free Dinner)

We went to a restaurant a few years ago and before my kids were even in their seats they were each handed an electronic tablet to play games. We weren’t even asked by the waitress if it was okay. Our kids don’t use devices at home so naturally it was a special occasion. Was the wait for the meal really quiet? Yep. They had their noses pressed against the screens the entire time, silently playing their individual games.

There are times that having the devices come in handy during travel (like on a boring road trip). But for me personally, I’m not a fan of having electronics at the dinner table. We let our kids play with them at this particular restaurant for about ten minutes before removing them and asking the waitress to take them away. My husband and I enjoy chatting with our kids together and while it was certainly quiet, it didn’t connect us as a family to have the kids playing games alone. However do what you have to do – if the kids are bickering and all you want is 10 quiet minutes, then maybe letting the kids use a device is what you need to do.

Waiting for food to arrive can make young diners impatient. Some restaurants will offer paper and crayons but not all. Consider having a restaurant “busy bag” to occupy kids. The contents inside the bag can be items that the entire family would enjoy. Supply a grab-bag of goodies to keep kids entertained while you wait. Here are a few mess-free ideas for different age ranges, from babies to big kids! Grown ups, set your phones down and pick up one of these family favorites.


If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families! #Restaurant #TravelWithKids #FamilyTravel #EatingOut #Dining

Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters (I Used to Be One!)

I place the plate of food in front of my toddler daughter and she recoils in horror. The arms pulled back, the face twisted in disgust. It’s a look I know well. I admit that I was not a healthy or adventurous eater as a child. In fact, I was extremely picky! I dreaded eating at a friend’s house because of my food aversions. I had my picky food list in mind and hoped that the meal being served didn’t have something that I’d have to pick out, avoid or gag on! Only in my twenties did I start trying new foods. And it’s because I used to be so particular with eating that I’ve been able to come up with ideas for feeding picky eaters.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters

When my eldest son was born, I knew that I wanted him to develop good eating habits from the start. Today he’s an adventurous eater who loves to try new foods. When I married my husband, I gained a stepdaughter through marriage. She was a very particular eater who (with Autism) has some serious texture sensitivity. She now easily eats everything placed in front of her without any complaints! Keep reading for my tested tips for feeding picky eaters.

Picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater on how to encourage your kids to try new foods. With these practical tips for feeding picky eaters you can take the focus off them and encourage healthy habits.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Start Young

When your babies first start eating solids, offer a wide variety of flavors and textures. It’s tempting to want to keep with the smooth and sweet foods but it’s important that babies learn (once the doctor gives the go-ahead) about savory flavors and to get accustomed to textures. I started by adding herbs and spices to baby food puree to add a dash of flavor. I discovered that a tiny bit of cinnamon with the baby cereal, thyme in the chicken puree and curry in the butternut squash.

2. “You Don’t Have to Like it, but You Still Have to Eat it”

Enlist a family motto like this one, which knocks off the “I don’t like this” excuses. When I first married my husband, his daughter was 5 and had a very small meal repertoire. We knew that needed to change but he’d gotten accustomed to serving her the same foods. It was easier to give in than deal with a possible dinnertime meltdown. Upon giving her a plate of food and hearing, “I don’t like meatloaf”, I replied, “You don’t have to like it, but you still have to eat it”. Saying it flatly and without emotion, drama or any kind of pressure from me seemed to do the trick. She tried it and now meatloaf is one of her favorite meals!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

3. Make the Meal Less About the Eating

Growing up, I was sooo stubborn about trying new foods. And that’s because during every dinner, the spotlight was on me to verify that I was eating what was served. My parents would make a big embarrassing fuss if I tried something new. So I stopped trying new things, just to be more in control.

We decided with our kids to take the focus off the eating and make mealtimes more enjoyable. We don’t obsess over every bite that our kids take. There is no big fanfare. It’s just food and meal time is not the place to pressure your kids. Push them and they’re sure to push back!

4. Keep Offering

So, they didn’t like it the first time you served it. That’s okay, keep offering. It may take quite a few times of seeing a food on their plate before children will try it, let alone like it.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

My son requested sushi for his birthday dinner.

5. Limit Portion Sizes

How can you get picky eaters to try new foods? Don’t pile their plates! When serving a new food, all we ask is that our children try one or two bites and that’s all. Start with a very small portion on your child’s plate. When they finish it, offer seconds. There are certain foods that my daughter doesn’t enjoy, like black beans. We will literally give her three beans and ask that she finish them. Once she is done, she can request more or she can be finished, there is no pressure.

Consider a Compartment Divided Plate so that foods aren’t “touching” and portion control is easier.

6. Respect Their Lack of Appetite

How do I get my picky toddler to eat?! And why is my kid always telling me he’s not hungry? Kids truly do have small stomachs. Also their appetites peak and wane depending upon growth spurts. Repeat after yourself, “It’s just one meal”. They’ll eat when they get hungry. Kids should continue to sit at the table with you during meals. I let my kids know that THIS is meal time and that if they tell me they’re hungry in 30 minutes that what we’re eating at the moment is what they will be served!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

7. Keep An Open Mind

You’ve just prepared a new dish and you’re already thinking, “There is no way my kid is going to eat this.” Get that thought out of your head right now, because your picky eater might just surprise you. Go into each new experience with an open mind. Simply serve what you’ve made without a big production and ignore the “I don’t like this, even though I’ve never had it” commentary.

Last year I offered my kids white canellini beans. We’ve eaten a lot of beans (pinto, black, refried, kidney) over the years but I’d never served white beans. My preschooler asked me what they were and then tried one (up to that point, he wouldn’t even TRY the beans we’d offered). He shrugged after eating the white bean and said, “I guess I like beans”. And he’s eaten every bean since!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

8. Water is the Beverage Option

Though I do offer a small glass of milk with breakfast and dinner, for the rest of the day water is the only beverage option. Juice or caffeine-free soda is limited to special occasions, like at a party. I prefer that my kids get their calories from healthy, nutritious foods and not get filled up on beverages.

9.  Serve Well-Balanced Snacks

Nothing like that just-before-dinner snack to “ruin” their appetite for the main course! Limit snack time to twice a day and under 100 calories. Snacks should be well-balanced and include a little fat (like nuts), protein (like a lean piece of meat) and a carbohydrate (like a half of a piece of fruit). Make it easy for your kids by keeping fruit on the counter and prepped veggies in the fridge, where they are easy to grab on the go. We like edamame that kids can pop out of the pods (they are healthy and they take a bit of time to consume).

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

10. Keep the Choices Fresh

It’s easy to get stuck on serving the same fruits and vegetables. But it’s important to keep things fresh and continue to offer new flavors. My kids have just developed a love of yellow and green squash, which we lightly steam. It’s also essential that you keep mostly fresh foods in the kitchen and to eliminate most bagged or processed items that are heavy on sodium and saturated fat.

We recently tried Dinnerly, which gave us some new ideas for veggies and recipes.

11. Offer Sauces and Dips (or Not!)

My toddler won’t eat meat unless it’s smothered in ketchup. Totally fine by me, at least she’s eating it! What are the foods that your kids might enjoy more if they had a sauce or dip as an accompaniment? And then there are some kids, like my kindergartner who does’t like sauces at all! If it’s easy enough to leave off the sauce on a dish, try letting family members add it themselves so the picky eater can have it “plain”.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

12. Remove White Foods

White foods are often the diet staples of a picky eater! Sub in colorful and more flavorful foods and skip the bland white foods. Avoid white bread and switch to a smooth tasting wheat. Once your child’s taste buds have gotten used to that, you can move to a nutty whole grain instead. Instead of white potatoes, try steamed sweet potato chunks. Use whole wheat pasta instead of pasta made with white flour. Switch out white rice for brown rice. Don’t think that eating healthier foods is more costly – see my ideas on how to save money on groceries.

13. Be a Good Role Model

Kids will totally notice if you are serving them lima beans and you don’t have any on your plate! Make sure you practice what you preach and that they see you eating healthfully as well. Are you ready to start your own healthy eating plan? Check out my review of Personal Trainer Food.

14. Make Meals Distraction Free

While you don’t want the focus on your picky eater during meal times, it shouldn’t be focused on the TV or device either. Make meal times enjoyable with light conversation by turning off the television, phone and devices. Click through to read about healthy breakfast ideas for kids.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

15. Dessert Isn’t the Reward

I know we’ve all been guilty of encouraging dinner eating by the promise of a sweet treat at the completion of the meal. But that definitely gives kids the message that dessert is more important by making it a reward. In our home, dessert isn’t an every day occurrence. And it’s definitely not always a sugary treat. Consider fruits like strawberries with whipped cream or frozen grapes (cut in half before serving).

16. Don’t Let Them Frazzle You

When my husband and I were first encouraging our daughter to try new things, it was imperative that we not lose our cool with her. A large part of being a picky eater is the control that it brings (speaking as a former picky eater herself!) When parents act like food is no big deal, it frees the child to relax and open up to trying new things just a little bit more.

Offer foods without pressure or bribery. If there is a complete meltdown at the mere suggestion of taking one bite, remove the plate and calmly tell the child to leave the table. Do not offer to prepare a different meal. Kids will either choose be stubborn and go without or they’ll begrudgingly eat what is offered. Just keep your cool and pretend it doesn’t bother you one way or another to get the control issue out of the way.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.


Encouraging Kids to Make the Most Nutritious Food Choices

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyMilkMyWay #CollectiveBias. I am working with The National Milk Life Campaign.

“Do you want to grow up big and strong? Finish your milk!” I can say with honesty that I didn’t have the best nutrition growing up. Too much of the not-so-great stuff and definitely not enough of what was nutritious. I knew right away when I became a mom that I wanted things to be different for my kids. I wanted them to crave the good stuff. To choose the good stuff even when the not-so-great stuff was an option too. I didn’t want them to have the same bad eating habits I had – choosing poorly, picky eating and refusing to try new foods. My kids are choosing well, and drinking milk daily is one of the best choices they make.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

As a family of six, we purchase a lot of food. Over the past few years my husband and I been focused on purchasing more of what’s nutritious. More of what’s wholesome and satisfying. More good sources of protein. Naturally milk plays a big part in our family’s diet. With four kids (ages 17 months to 13 years old) we go through a gallon of milk every two days. Drinking milk and using it in my daily cooking is a great way to fill our bodies with natural, high-quality protein plus other nutrients we need.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Why Do Kids Need Milk?

I’m fortunate in that all my kids are huge milk drinkers. We purchase whole milk for the baby, who needs it for proper brain development. The rest of the family drinks low-fat milk.

One 8-ounce glass of milk provides eight grams of natural, high-quality protein. Protein helps to build lean muscle and keep bones strong. So when we’re telling our kids to finish their glass of milk because it will make them stronger, it’s speaking truth!

Unfortunately many kids overall are drinking less milk. That means some kids aren’t getting enough of milk’s 9 essential nutrients, like high-quality protein calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Kids desperately need these to grow. Dairy milk is the top food source for these three nutrients, calcium, potassium and vitamin D.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Ways to Encourage Kids to Drink More Milk

My kids start off each day with a well-rounded breakfast. I’m always shocked to hear how many of their peers don’t eat breakfast at all before school. Even if breakfast is grab-and-go, a glass of milk is a simple and wholesome way to help kids get natural protein and balanced nutrition. I serve my kids an 8 ounce glass of milk at breakfast and again at dinner. Each cup of milk has 8 grams natural, high-quality protein.

Low Pressure and Balance

As a formerly picky eater I can attest to pressure from my parents as a big reason why I would not try new foods. I was stubborn and it was definitely a control thing for me, being able to say “No, I’m NOT going to eat that!”. I’ve found that encouraging the “just one bite” or “just one sip” method brings fewer struggles with my kids.

We actually just went through it this morning, when my son didn’t want to try his blueberry smoothie. I told him he didn’t have to like it, he just needed to try it.

Offer a good balance and don’t flat-out banning treats (especially if your child has become accustomed to eating them). Yes, we still eat dessert. Just not after every meal and not even every day.

What If Your Child Says They Don’t Like Milk?

What if kids aren’t crazy about the taste of white milk? No worries because flavored milk also counts as a serving of dairy and provides the same nine essential nutrients. Or choose to create recipes that incorporate the recommended daily serving of milk in another way.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Do Adults Need Milk?

Many adults simply do not get the necessary amount of protein each day. I used to be one of them. And naturally, without the natural, high-quality protein in my system, I’d be hungry again within an hour after eating. I personally find myself craving milk so I know my body needs the extra protein and calcium.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Did you know dairy milk protein is a complete protein? Most plant proteins are incomplete. This means they’re missing some of the amino acids your body needs. Milk is also a top source of calcium in the diet — with one cup offering about a third of the recommended amount for one day. An 8-ounce glass of milk gives you about 30 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin D. The vitamin D and calcium work together to build and maintain strong bones, helping to protect older adults from osteoporosis.

And as someone trying to shed the last 15 lbs of “baby weight” I’m incorporating milk consumption in my diet as a way to increase muscle mass. A study in women found that including fat free milk in a recovery routine during a 12 week training program resulted in greater muscle mass, strength gains, and fat loss (compared to a carb-only sports drink with the same calories).

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Other Ways to Get the Benefits of Milk

There are some easy ways to incorporate milk naturally into the day. Of course, drinking a glass of milk is the easiest way to take advantage of the nutritious benefits! Here are some ways that I add milk into our recipes:

  • Serve milk with cereal or grains at breakfast.
  • Use milk when making scrambled eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles or French toast.
  • Make a low-fat or skim milk smoothie. I freeze fruit and greens (like kale or spinach) just before they’re overripe. Then toss them into the blender with 8-oz of milk and a few ice cubes.
  • Make milk-rich recipes for dinner like quiche, macaroni and cheese, creamy broccoli soup, Alfredo sauce or frittata.
  • For dessert, make pudding, frozen smoothie pops or custard.
  • Add chocolate to milk to make cocoa.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Confession Time

I’ll be totally honest. I don’t like the taste of plain white milk! I never have, even as a child. But I do still drink my milk by including it daily inside a smoothie at breakfast. Toss in lots of frozen berries and even a handful of greens and I’m good for the day.

There are lots of other ways to include milk into your daily diet – Looking for more ideas on how to incorporate more milk into your everyday? Visit MilkLife.com for more information and recipes.

What if you could give your kids a nutrient-rich, delicious, farm fresh beverage with natural protein and no sugar added – all for about a quarter per serving? Surprise – it’s something that’s likely already in your fridge – white milk!

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #MyMilkMyWay #ad

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations for the Meals You Want

Want to eat at all the best Walt Disney World restaurants on your vacation? Here’s how to get the Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) for the meals you want. It takes some advance planning a bit of know-how but anyone can get the Disney dining reservations they want during their vacation. Follow these 8 practical tips and you’ll soon be dining in the best Disney World restaurants alongside Mickey, Cinderella and the Beast!

Getting the Best Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations

When planning your Walt Disney World vacation, you might think it’s strange to decide where you want to eat 180 days ahead of time! However at Dsney World, ADR are needed for most (if not all) full-service restaurants. Many of these restaurants are experiences in and of themselves.

Guests can dine inside of a castle like at Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table for the ultimate in Magic Kingdom dining. Or step back in time at 50’s Prime Time Cafe or Beaches & Cream Soda Shoppe. Watch fireworks from a rooftop vantage at California Grill or giddy-up at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. The best Disney World restaurants are coveted and they do fill up early, even in the “off-season”.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!


Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible. Here are tons of insider tips for getting the ADR for the meals at Disney World you really want to eat! #DisneyWorld

Do You Have to Make Reservations for Disney Restaurants?

Yes and no. If you want to eat in the full-service restaurants, you’ll almost always need an ADR. A walk-up booking can be unlikely for the most popular locations. If you don’t want to commit to reservations, then it’s totally okay to eat at only quick-service dining locations for your entire trip. I did this when I traveled to Disney World alone with my infant. And the meals I had were great!

So, yes if you want to eat in the full-service restaurants, you’ll need ADR. No, you don’t have to make reservations if you’re okay with eating all quick-service. And of course if you want to dine with Mickey, you’re going to need a reservation!

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible. Here are tons of insider tips for getting the ADR for the meals at Disney World you really want to eat! #DisneyWorld

Ready for fun at the Hoop-Dee-Doo in Walt Disney World.

Why Don’t You Need Reservations for Disneyland Restaurants?

Comparing Disney World to Disneyland, you’ll know that Disneyland regulars very rarely book ADR. Most of the full-service restaurants are easy to dine in as a walk-up. There are a few exceptions, like character meals and Blue Bayou restaurant. And you’ll need ADR during busier seasons and the Holidays.

I’m not sure why Disneyland restaurants aren’t as crowded as Disney World! Maybe because the dining at Disneyland is less “experience”. Perhaps because it’s very easy to leave the parks and walk across the street to restaurants on Harbor Blvd? Or maybe because so many locals tend to pack in their own food and snacks? For more information, here’s how to eat at Disneyland without an ADR.

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible. Here are tons of insider tips for getting the ADR for the meals at Disney World you really want to eat! #DisneyWorld

Character dining at PCH Grill at Disneyland. It was a springtime Saturday morning, so yes, I did book ADR for this character meal!


CLICK THIS IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEYLAND & DISNEY WORLD VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


How Many Full Service Meals Should We Plan On?

Keep in mind that these “dining experiences” often take up a good amount of time so build them in to your trip. I only book 1 ADR per day, usually for dinner. This allows us to eat a light breakfast in our hotel room, grab a quick service lunch whenever hunger strikes and then enjoy our fancy ADR meal at dinner time.


So how can you get that Advanced Dining Reservation for the meal you really want? These are basic tips for newbies looking to grab a few ADR for their trip.

1. Plan Out Your Itinerary

Before you start picking out ADR willy-nilly, you’ll need to plot out your basic itinerary. You don’t want to be booking The Crystal Palace for breakfast at Magic Kingdom on a day you’d planned on being at the Typhoon Lagoon water park.

Likewise be sure to check the times of the attractions you wish to watch before booking an ADR. I almost booked a coveted Be Our Guest dinner reservation but stopped short after checking my itinerary and realized it fell right during the fireworks show we’d planned on watching.

So how can you get that Advanced Dining Reservation for the meal you really want? These are basic tips for newbies looking to grab a few ADR for their trip.

Cupcakes at Be Our Guest…try the grey stuff!

2.Book at 180 Days

Your best bet for getting the reservation you want it is to book the very day that you can, at the very first moment they open the reservations (either by phone or online). This would be 180 days out. That is how you’ll get the most coveted slots like Cinderella’s Table, by being the early bird! You can either book online or call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) by 7:00 am ET. Reservations often fill up within minutes of opening.

3. Check the Website Frequently

Missed the 180 day window? You may still be able to grab the reservation you want by frequently scoping out the ADR website for openings. I was able to grab a reservation for 50s Prime Time Cafe five days before my trip just by checking the site several times a day.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Dennis the Menace

4. Search by Meals, Not by Exact Times

When checking for availability, search by meals instead of exact times. You’ll have a greater chance at finding a reservation if you use the more broad “meal times” instead of exact times.

Inside the “Check Availability” box there is a drop-down menu that will say Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (if the restaurant isn’t open for a particular meal, that meal won’t show up in the menu). If there is a time available there will be a button with the time available that you can click to reserve your spot.


Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible. Here are tons of insider tips for getting the ADR for the meals at Disney World you really want to eat! #DisneyWorld

5. Use a Travel Agent

Many agents will include booking dining as part of your vacation package. So instead of having to get up before sunrise to make those calls to Disney dining, your agent will do the work for you!

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible; here are 8 tips for getting the ADR for the meals you really want to eat!

6. Use Touring Plans

If you don’t have time to be constantly checking for open ADR, there’s a site that will help you with that! Touring Plans offers a Disney World Dining Reservation Finder. You just plug in the details of the restaurant meal you want booked and Touring Plans sends you an email when a reservation opens up.

Naturally you have to be the first person to grab it before it’s taken by someone else, but it definitely saves time not having to stalk the website yourself! I used it last month to get a reservation for Beaches & Cream Soda Shoppe. The email came through letting me know there was a reservation available and I was able to immediately go online and scoop up the reservation for the meal time I wanted!


Save Money at DISNEY!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

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7. Be Open to Different Times

How many of you would be willing to eat at Be Our Guest if the only reservation is for 9:30 pm on a Wednesday night? What if you had your baby and preschooler with you? I actually have this reservation set for my next visit and for us, it will work out great! Since we come from the West Coast, I keep my little ones on Pacific Time. Therefore a 9:30 pm (6:30 PST) isn’t that late of a dinner for them and we score a great ADR.

Certainly, some reservation times just aren’t ideal for many families. But if you can be open to dining at a different time you’ll more likely be able to find a reservation. Consider pushing back lunch so you can have a later dinner. Then stay to play in the parks and sleep in the next day. Or if you find an early dinner reservation, eat a big breakfast, skip lunch, have your early dinner and then enjoy dessert later in the evening.

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible; here are 8 tips for getting the ADR for the meals you really want to eat!

8. Last Minute Find

Even while on vacation, an ADR may open up for something you want on the trip. Many guests overbook and then cancel at the last minute (to avoid any no-show charges). This opens up an ADR for you! I was able to book a last minute Be Our Guest lunch the day we arrived. Keep checking the website on your mobile phone to see if an ADR opens up for the time you want.

9. Book Ahead and Cancel If You Need To

Let’s say you can’t get the reservation you really want but there is another restaurant that has availability. Consider booking ahead and getting the reservation you can. You can continue to search for the ADR you want. If you can’t get another reservation at least you’ll have something booked! If you’re able to book elsewhere, then you can then easily cancel the first reservation.

Reservations may be canceled, with the deposit refunded in full, by calling 407-WDW-DINE. Each restaurant at the Walt Disney World Resort has its own cancellation policy, so be sure to check your reservation. You’ll want to know if the cancellation window is 48 or 24 hours before the reservation to avoid any fees.

Couldn’t get the Character dining ADR you wanted? Consider at the Sunshine BreakfasTime at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista. The cost is about half what you’d pay at a Disney World restaurant and the best part, no ADR needed!

What Disney World restaurant is the one you most want to dine at?

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible. Here are tons of insider tips for getting the ADR for the meals at Disney World you really want to eat! #DisneyWorld

 

7 Top Tips to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks

Dining is an important part of a Disney vacation. You can certainly include all the fun restaurants and character dining experiences into part of your entertainment for the day, at a cost of course. But if you’d rather spend your money on something else, keep reading. Eating inside the Disney parks can be expensive! So how can you save money on food at Disney parks? Check out my expert tips how budgeting food, packing your own and even what to order that will help you save a lot!

Save Money on Food at Disney

These are my best hacks to save money on food at Disney. Try one or try them all, you will be shocked to know you could save hundreds off the cost of your vacation implementing just a few of these ideas. I’ve included tips for both budgeting at Disneyland and frugal vacations at Disney World tips. Be sure to check out the other links I’ve included with other money-saving Disney vacation ideas.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

These 7 tips for saving money at Disney will spare you hundreds on the cost of your next vacation! There are tons of budget tips for Disneyland as well as frugal at Disney World ideas


1. Stay Off the Disney Dining Plan at Disney World

Contrary to what Disney will have you believe, the Disney Dining Plan available at Walt Disney World isn’t the best bargain. True, it’s convenient to pay for meals upfront and not have to worry about paying the bill each time you eat. But unless you are eating at the most expensive locations and ordering the most expensive dishes every time, you won’t be getting the best value.

You’ll also be receiving a lot of food, including dessert. Depending upon your appetite it might be too much food. Also, everyone in your group has to be included in the Plan so there’s not opportunity to share. Here’s more about why to skip on the Disney Dining Plan on TravelingMom. If you want to save money on food at Disney World, the Dining Plan isn’t your best option!

These 7 tips for saving money at Disney will spare you hundreds on the cost of your next vacation! There are tons of budget tips for Disneyland as well as frugal at Disney World ideas

Flatbread at Pinocchio’s Village Haus in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

2. Skip a Meal

I know, sounds odd that I would suggest that you DON’T EAT as a way to save money! But hear me out…here are several ways you can opt out of purchasing another meal and save yourself a chunk of money.

MONEY SAVING IDEA #1 – Instead of buying a restaurant breakfast, have your family eat a meal to go that you prepare in your hotel room. Run hot water through the coffee maker to make oatmeal with store-bought packs. Nibble fresh fruit while waiting for the bus. Tote crunchy granola bars or trail mix to munch on while you walk to the parks. Provide just enough breakfast to fill tummies before you purchase an early lunch in the parks.

MONEY SAVING IDEA #2 – Or consider this second way of meal skipping; Eat a large breakfast (perhaps indulging in a buffet at a character experience) that will stave you off until late afternoon. Enjoy a snack or two mid-day (something that you pack in), skip lunch completely and then eat dinner early.

MONEY SAVING IDEA #3 -We’ve also done this: Early breakfast that we packed in, eaten while waiting for rope drop. Several decent snacks throughout the day that you brought with you. Big lunch purchased in the park, something hearty that will fill you up, eaten past your usual lunch time (this is a great way to avoid the usual crowds during the lunch rush too). Then when you get hungry late in the evening for your usual dinner meal, enjoy a special treat instead like ice cream! Ice cream for dinner is one of our favorite ways to celebrate at Disney.

These 7 tips for saving money at Disney will spare you hundreds on the cost of your next vacation! There are tons of budget tips for Disneyland as well as frugal at Disney World ideas

Ice cream at Disney’s California Adventure park – Dinner is served!

3. Disney Dining for Breakfast

If you really want to enjoy a Character Dining Experience, consider booking one for breakfast instead of lunch or dinner. The breakfasts are considerable less pricey and no less enjoyable. Sure, you won’t get freshly carved meats but you’ll still get a hearty breakfast buffet and the same fun character interactions you’d find at dinner.

We’ve enjoyed the Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the Paradise Pier Hotel and Minnie and Friends – Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn.

At Walt Disney World you can even find a character breakfast at a non-Disney resort hotel (the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista) near Disney Springs for half the price of Disney parks character meals – Check out this review on Traveling Mom, Save Half the Cost on Disney Character Meal.

These 7 tips for saving money at Disney will spare you hundreds on the cost of your next vacation! There are tons of budget tips for Disneyland as well as frugal at Disney World ideas

Mickey waffles at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista for half the price of usual Disney character dining


Looking for Discounted Disneyland Dining?

My partner Get Away Today offers discounted Character Dining vouchers for Chip ‘n Dale’s Critter Breakfast, Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn, Surf’s Up Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the PCH Grill and Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast or dinner inside the Disneyland Hotel. Click under TICKETS for the DISNEYLAND RESORT. Enter the date of your trip, then click DINING on the left side to purchase discount dining vouchers!


4. Make Water Your Beverage of Choice

Skip the soda and ditch the juice. Water is your budget-friendly beverage option! Feel free to bring in your own bottled water or an empty bottle that you can refill at the fountains. Ask for complimentary ice water at any quick service restaurant. That’s a savings of at least $2 per person, per meal to just drink water instead of soda.


CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEY VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


5. Share a Plate

If each person in your group orders their own dish, you’ll not only be stuck with a large bill you also may be stuck with leftovers! Since leftover food is unpractical (and depending upon the food, it could require refrigeration to keep it safe to eat), so it’s better to order just enough to enjoy fresh. Many of the platters in the Disney parks are large enough to share between two or more people.

These 7 tips for saving money at Disney will spare you hundreds on the cost of your next vacation! There are tons of budget tips for Disneyland as well as frugal at Disney World ideas

We shared these generous platters of food in Epcot’s Morocco pavillion

You can find large platters at full-service and quick-service dining locations. Full-service restaurants may charge a plate-splitting fee. If you’re eating quick-service, request extra plates to divvy up the meal. One place you will be unable to share is at the buffet (unless you have a child 2 and under). Be sure to read this post for exact recommendations on what to order at the Disneyland resort, What are the Best Meals for Sharing at the Disneyland Resort?

Sharing is a great idea when it comes to park purchased snacks and treats as well. Did you know that if you buy one of those enormous candied apples, they will slice it up for you to make it easier to share? And buying the Kitchen Sink dessert sundae is less expensive than purchasing individual ice creams. You can even buy cones separately if you want to take some of the sundae and put it in a cone (which is what I did for my kid!)

These 7 tips for saving money at Disney will spare you hundreds on the cost of your next vacation! There are tons of budget tips for Disneyland as well as frugal at Disney World ideas

6. Get Groceries

Getting groceries is a practical way of stretching the food budget while at the Disney parks. This will allow you to keep food in the hotel fridge. Things like milk with cereal for breakfast, fresh fruits and veggies for snacking or even frozen dinners that can be microwaved (if your hotel room has a microwave) are all great ways to save on the cost of restaurant dining.

If you’re visiting Disneyland, a grocery store or Target is just a few miles away so you can easily drive your rental car or take Uber to the store to supply whatever you need.

At Walt Disney World, there are many grocers that can deliver foods directly to your resort hotel. Local places like Garden Grocer and WeGoShop will deliver for a relatively low fee. You could also use Amazon or Amazon Fresh for your grocery needs and have them delivered to your resort (there may be a nominal fee for delivery from the resort).

I used Garden Grocer on my last trip. I ordered mini boxes of cereal, a bottle of milk, fresh cut melon and a case of bottled water. The cost of buying groceries was significantly less than if I’d purchased meals in the Park.


7. Pack Snacks (or a Full Meal)

Yes, you can take in your own food to the Disney parks! Just use common sense when packing in snacks or meals. Certain foods will require they be kept cool (like lunch meat), so pack them in a soft sided cooler with a chill pack. We packed in a full tray of sandwiches from Costco on our last trip; we kept it in a cool bag underneath the stroller and it was good until lunchtime!

Bag up precut veggies or fruit. Pack items that won’t get crushed or broken in your bag (nobody wants that mushy banana, do they?) Crunchy granola bars, sturdy crackers, nuts and dried fruit are also good choices that will keep in your bag all day. That’s my kid, eating the Costco sandwiches and carrots we toted in!


Save Money on Your Disney Vacation!

Purchase discount Disneyland and Walt Disney World tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).


These 7 tips for saving money at Disney will spare you hundreds on the cost of your next vacation! There are tons of budget tips for Disneyland as well as frugal at Disney World ideas

More Ways to Save at Disney!

Disney vacations don’t have to be over-the-top expensive. There are lots of ways to have a cheap Disneyland vacation or a frugal Disney World trip! I have several other posts that outline how to eat cheap at Disney parks and other ways to save money at Disney during your trip.


These 7 tips for saving money at Disney will spare you hundreds on the cost of your next vacation! There are tons of budget tips for Disneyland as well as frugal at Disney World ideas. #Disney #Disneyland #DisneyWorld #BudgetTravel #TravelHacks


 

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier (and a $20 off code to use on MasterPan!)

We cook 99% of our meals at home, by scratch and on a budget. This means a few things – With 5 eaters to please, it can be a challenge to make a meal that everyone will enjoy (keeping in mind the “I don’t want onions in mine” concerns!) Also, making dinner at home means there is always clean up. Dishes & utensils, napkins & place mats, leftovers to put away and always pots and pans to wash. Lots of pots and pans!

I really try not to fall into the trap of making multiple dishes to please each person in our family. We have a rule in our our house, “You don’t have to like it but you do have to try it”. There is also no crying about food. After all, we try to teach our kids that a plate of healthy food in front of them is something to be grateful for.

That being said, if it’s easy for me to make a meal that doesn’t automatically mix onions and peppers that my pickiest eater won’t try (I’m looking at you, four-year-old!), then I’ll take that route if it means he’ll eat his dinner without complaint. Here’s one way to make cooking at home easier for picky eaters.

I received a complimentary MasterPan to facilitate this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier (and a $20 off code to use on MasterPan!)

MasterPan Keeps it All Separated for Picky Eaters

I recently had the chance to try out MasterPan for dinner last week. I was intrigued by it and hoped (fingers crossed!) that it would make dinnertime a little easier as in I could keep certain foods separated and at the same time only dirty one pan. I liked that it only used one burner which saves on gas (versus having four burners going with four separate pans) and I would only have to watch one pan instead of four.

I had some leftover steamed Yukon gold potatoes that I wanted to warm and fry up for dinner. I also had two chicken sausages from the deli and some chopped red peppers and onions to saute. This is a family favorite that I usually cook in several pans (because my little one fusses about the onions and peppers touching his sausage…sigh!)

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier (and a $20 off code to use on MasterPan!)

There were a few questions I had before trying MasterPan and as I cooked, I found the answers –

Will it work on one burner? – Yes, only one burner is needed to cook. The  center of the MasterPan is the hottest cooking area but the heat flows through the rest of the pan to heat the outside compartments as well.

Timing your foods to be done at the same time is one of the usual challenges of cooking. I liked that the outer compartments on the MasterPan heated slowly so I was able to add everything to the pan at once and with a few turns on the sausages and some shifting of the onions and peppers, everything cooked evenly and stayed warm.

What about the oven? – Yes, you can use it in the oven. It’s oven safe to 350* for one hour.

How big is it? – It’s a large pan (14.9″ x 21.75″ x 1.75″). I think it would be great for college students or for keeping in the RV; any place you’re cooking where space is at a minimum and having one great pan like this versus five individual pans makes sense.

One of the compartments is on the smaller size. I originally had placed the red peppers here and the onions in the larger section. Once the onions cooked down a bit and were smaller, I easily exchanged their places to allow the red peppers more space to cook.

How easy is it to clean? – Super easy! It’s made of quality nonstick (not Teflon) and there was no hard scrubbing after cooking our meal. And it’s dishwasher safe, so that’s even better!

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier (and a $20 off code to use on MasterPan!)

So how did MasterPan work for our dinner? It was a success! With the burner on medium heat, as suggested, the sausage cooked nicely on the stove top. The potatoes warmed and crisped up a bit with a little oil and the peppers and onions sauted along with the sausage. The compartments were a bit on the smaller side for our big family but I think the pan would be perfect for portion control if I was cooking for fewer people.

Want a MasterPan for your house?

The MasterPan has been a great addition to our kitchen and I bet you’ll love it too. Not only does it save you time, energy and clean-up, now you can get it at a lower price too. Check out this coupon code to save when you purchase!

Enter the exclusive $20 OFF coupon code MP206, just for my readers through the MasterPan link.

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Storyteller’s Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Review of lunch at the Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Disneyland Resort

Storyteller’s Cafe Lunch Review

Do you enjoy a quiet respite mid-day while at the Disneyland Resort? It can be a great break, to seek lunch options outside of the Parks. When crowd levels are at their highest, we like to escape the Parks and take the family out for lunch and swimming. The Storyteller’s Cafe located at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offered the perfect lunch break for us on our recent visit to Disneyland.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

I’ll be totally honest with you. It’s next to impossible to please my husband when it comes to eating out. He’s extremely particular about how his food is prepared, the ingredients and how the meal makes him feel afterwards. And because we are so frugal, eating out isn’t something we do very often, so he hates feeling like he “wasted” good money on a meal that didn’t satisfy.

We’ve eaten at Storyteller’s Cafe twice. The first time was several years ago and we dined at the dinner buffet. It was during the Christmas holidays and there was an amazing gingerbread creation in the lobby, delicious foods and fun Christmas treats for dessert. My husband raved about that meal several times after our trip so I know that the restaurant had made a positive impression on him.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

On our last visit he suggested that we dine at Storyteller’s Cafe for lunch. It was a very busy Saturday in the Parks and we’d not made any dining reservations so we weren’t sure what to expect when we showed up at the Cafe for lunch. Fortunately the restaurant was quite empty and they were able to accommodate us right away.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Within minutes we had glasses of ice water and a basket of freshly baked bread. There was a small loaf of tear-apart buttermilk bread and little corn bread muffins, served with butter. Naturally between the five of us, we polished off that bread basket quickly but the waiter was happy to bring more.

Storyteller’s Cafe has a beautiful rustic decor that is both cozy and elegant.  The high ceilings, stained glass details, mix of woods and black wrought iron silhouettes and hand-painted murals really make this a warm atmosphere.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

What We Ate

My 12-yr old son is all about the soup so he ordered the Charred Nebraska Corn Chowder which had bits of rotisserie chicken, bacon bits and a sprinkle of cilantro. I’ve had this soup before and it’s thick, hearty and filling. It’s absolutely delicious so naturally, the boy didn’t share! The soup bowl is $8 which is a little steep but it’s a good serving size and it did fill him up.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My 12-yr daughter and I decided to order a burger to split between us and we were very happy with the Half-Pound Char-broiled Avocado-Bacon Burger. She doesn’t care for avocado so I requested it on the side. The avocado was more like guacamole, mashed with chunks of onion and tomato.

I ordered the beef patty but we could have also had ground turkey or a veggie-burger. The burger was large and juicy with cheddar cheese and toppings served on a Harvest bun. We opted for the fries which were perfectly crisp (we could have requested fresh fruit as a side option). The burger was big and there were plenty of fries so sharing this dish was a great choice. This burger platter is $15, which was reasonable for the portion size (and that we were able to split the dish between two).

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My husband (aka: Mr. Picky) chose the Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich and he was very pleased with his choice. He wanted something that wasn’t overly heavy and the lightly cooked tuna served on toasted ciabatta bread was just what he was craving. The sandwich came with a zesty lemon-caper mayo and was topped with fresh arugula, tomato, and pickled ginger. He requested extra lemons to squeeze on top. Being the health-conscious guy he is, he chose fruit instead of fries. At $17, this was a unique option that my husband really enjoyed.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My 4-yr old, excited for the rare dining-out moment, chose the chicken breast nuggets and fries (something he doesn’t really get to eat at home). It came served with veggies (carrots & celery) and a large serving of fresh fruit. He ate all but one nugget (that his sister happily finished for him!)

Our lunch at Storyteller’s Cafe was absolutely delicious and filling enough that we actually didn’t even eat dinner that night (we had ice cream sundaes instead!) The service was quick and top-notch on the day of our visit. Though we were able to pop in without reservations on the day of our visit, it’s generally recommended that you try to book ADR for this restaurant. I would not attempt to show up for breakfast or dinner at Storyteller’s Cafe without Advance Dining Reservations.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

What You Need to Know about Dining at Storyteller’s Cafe

You do not need to be a guest of the Disney Grand Californian Hotel and Spa to dine at Storyteller’s Cafe and it’s very easy to access the restaurant. You can enter the hotel through the Downtown Disney District and the restaurant is located just next to the pool. Likewise you can exit Disney’s California Adventure Park’s special entrance/exit that is connected to the hotel. Though anyone can exit through this method you have to be a Disneyland Resort hotel guest (with a valid room key) to enter back through this way.

Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe is buffet-style only and features character dining with Chip & Dale. Dinner offers both a buffet and the ability to order off the menu. Lunch is menu-only, no buffet is offered.

Next time (and there will be a next time) I’m going to have to try dessert…strawberry cheesecake? Yes, please!

What would you order from Storyteller’s Cafe? 

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What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

On top of lodging and Park tickets, food can be a very big cost factor when planning a Disney vacation. Everyone has to eat and when you’re away from home you need to eat what’s available. Yes, you can pack snacks in to the Parks. but when it comes to long-term sustenance, nothing beats a good hearty meal. Fortunately Disneyland has plenty of options that will fill you up! And if you share, these choices can also be very economical. What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? Read on for the Disneyland food tips – hope you’re hungry!

Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!

Famous Lobster Nachos. Big enough to share (but so delicious we should have ordered TWO!)

Why Should You Share?

Disneyland meal platters are often very large and might be difficult to finish on your own. Unlikely that you’ll want to walk around the Park with a “to-go” box of your leftovers either.

Kids meals are cute (Mickey shaped plates!) but for the price, you don’t always get the largest portions. And often the offerings for kids are nuggets and fries, which you can get anywhere. Why not try something new?

Not only is sharing a more budget-friendly idea, it’s also great to try more than one dish. As a family of six, we often purchase two platters and a side (like a salad or appetizer) to share between us when we’re at Disneyland. This way we can all try a little bit of everything and it’s more cost-effective.

If you plan to split a meal at Disneyland because you’d like to eat healthier, check out this post with ideas on How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!).

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

In the mood for Mexican? Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill has traditional-style platters big enough for sharing.

Go for the Big Platter

A big platter shared between two or more is usually your best bet when it comes to Disneyland food prices and large portion-sizes. If there are more than two in your group, you might want to order more than one platter or an additional side dish to share between you.

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

  • The Carnation Cafe serves big breakfasts like Country-Fried Steak and Eggs and a Ham and Cheese Omelet that are perfect for two to share in the morning.
  • Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill is a family favorite for us, with heaping portions of grilled meats, tortillas, tamales, rice and beans.
  • You can also opt in for Mexican at Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurant where you can order enchiladas and tacos.
  • Flo’s V8 Cafe is known for their homey cooking and large platters like BBQ Pork Ribs and Rotisserie Chicken.

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!

  • French Market Restaurant is another family favorite. We love to order the Cajun-Style Meatloaf and French Market Chicken and share it between us all.
  • Choose a few skewer platters from Paradise Garden Grill to split. Each plate also comes with rice pilaf, cucumber salad and pita bread.
  • The River Belle Terrace now serves platters large enough for splitting, including a Sausage Link Combo and Pulled Pork Sandwich.
  • The beautiful and bountiful platters of pasta from Wine Country Trattoria are easy to divide and you could always round out the meal with an Italian Insalata appetizer.
  • Plaza Inn is a perfect dinner spot with their enormous platters of fried chicken, potatoes, buttermilk biscuit and veggies.
What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

This is one third of a portion at Plaza Inn.

Head into Downtown Disney District for more platter-sharing options, like the Signature Barbacoa Nachos or Fajita de Tres at Tortilla Jo’s. Or a large plate of pasta, like the Penne Pomodoro with Italian Sausage at La Brea Bakery Cafe.

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!

Where to Share a Sandwich (or a Salad)

  • The Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square can be on the heavy side for one person to consume (turkey, ham, Swiss that’s been lightly battered, fried, drizzled with powdered sugar and topped with berry preserve). Don’t forget the pomme frites!
  • For a large variety of salads, Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney District has about 10 large salads topped with a good mix of fruit, chicken or extra veggies.
  • La Brea Bakery Cafe in Downtown Disney also offers large salads topped with seafood offerings like blackened mahi-mahi or grilled salmon.
  • My husband and I split a Roasted Turkey Sandwich from the Carnation Cafe for dinner last year. Along with fresh fruit (option instead of fries), it was a filling and delicious meal.
  • The salad at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill (shown below) is big enough for two to enjoy.

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

  • Step outside the Parks into the Downtown Disney District at Earl of Sandwich for large sized sandwiches that are hearty enough to share. We’ve purchased several breakfast sandwiches here as well and cut them into quarters so that everyone have a few bites from each different variety. Breakfast sandwiches are under $3.50 and hot lunch sandwiches are around $6.99, so the prices are really right.
  • The prices at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe are a little higher but they also come with fresh fruit. Plates are a few dollars more at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe but the sandwiches come with popular house chips. And it’s all about the seafood at the Harbour Galley. Stop by for a Lobster Roll sandwich that’s sure to float your boat.

Where to Share a Disneyland Snack

Sometimes you just need a nibble and these snacks are great for sharing. Everyone gets a few bites and you’re good until the next big meal.

  • Grab a few skewers from Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland. Each skewer is under $4.50 so the price is right to order a few and share between you.
  • The corn dogs from either Corn Dog Castle or the Little Red Wagon Corn Dog Cart are over sized and nice for sharing between two (they come with either sliced apples or a bag of chips).What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?
  • Chili Cone Queso from the Cozy Cone Motel is also a good size for two to share.
  • Of course there is always the behemoth turkey leg sold at Edelweiss Snacks that is large enough for an army.
  • You can also pack in your own snacks into the Disneyland Parks, one of many top tips for saving money on food!
What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

Share a Cozy Cone – – Photo Credit: Disney Parks

Pass a Slice of Pizza

Order a whole pizza from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta or Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port. You can get pepperoni, veggie or plain cheese amd round out the meal with a salad to split.

My family and I ordered the 1/2 meter family-sized pizza at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria in Downtown Disney District. It was enough to feed six people (and there were a few slices left we just couldn’t finish!) For less than $50, this was a decent price to feed us all. They let us go 50/50 on the toppings to please everyone in the family.

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!


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Disneyland Desserts and Sweets

I’m usually way too full after my meal to indulge in dessert so I wait and get a treat later when I can more fully enjoy it!

  • The Golden Horseshoe is a favorite sweet spot because you can share one of the big sundaes and watch a comedy show.
  • The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe has a large variety of desserts that you can divide between your group including cupcakes.
  • We usually indulge in homemade fudge or toffee from Main Street U.S.A. to share between us!

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!

Disneyland Park Food Sharing Tips

  • If ordering at a quick-service counter restaurant, request a second or third plate up front. Grab yourself plenty of flatware and divvy the plates up at your seat.
  • If ordering at a full-service restaurant, note to the wait staff that you’ll be sharing the dish. They may even be able to divide the dish in the kitchen and serve it to you on two plates so you don’t have to do that yourself.
  • Some establishments have sharing restrictions. Buffet restaurants, Prix fix meals and Character meals are no-sharing allowed zones. Each person in your group will be charged up front for entry.
  • Certain restaurants (like Blue Bayou) charge a “plate splitting” fee if you order a platter to be shared. Keep that in mind when working out your food budget and determine if the fee is worth it or if you should just purchase an additional meal.
  • The exception for sharing is with children 2 years old and under. You are welcome to share your food with them from your plate or fix them their own plate from a buffet.
What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

A giant bucket of popcorn is ideal for sharing while parade watching- Photo Credit: Jeff Holz


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What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!


Disneyland Restaurant Review – French Market Restaurant

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are telling you all about some of the best quick service restaurants at Disneyland.


FRENCH MARKET RESTAURANT

Located in New Orleans Square, the French Market Restaurant fast quick service dining location is one stop we make on nearly every visit to the Disneyland Resort. New Orleans Square is always a happening hot-spot. With Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and a dozen of small shops to peruse (including Pandora!), New Orleans Square is always bustling. You also have to pass through this area to reach Critter Country (and the The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Splash Mountain).

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

Elegantly appointed New Orleans Square at Disneyland

Why is the French Market Restaurant one of our favorite Disneyland dining spots? I think it’s a combination of location, atmosphere and food that brings us back each time!

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

LOCATION

Set in the heart of New Orleans Square, this outdoor dining location is a charming respite. I’ve never been to New Orleans but sitting in this spot in the middle of Disneyland makes me think I am! Wrought iron, draped canopies over the seating area and a small stage add to the appeal.

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

On a hot day, it’s a nice alternative to indoor dining because of the shady patio. Jazz bands are often here to play, sometimes accompanied by a singer. During one of our visits, there was an impromptu parade through the patio and the kids danced around the tables and chairs, rewarded with beaded necklaces at the end of the song.

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

Depending upon which side of the patio you choose to sit, there is also a view of either the Rivers of America, the Haunted Mansion or the New Orleans Train Station.

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

DINING TIPS

Guests enter and place their order at the buffet counter, where they are served their platters and pay at the register. Though this is “quick dining”, dishes are served on real dishes with flatware instead of paper plates and plastic forks. I think that alone give this location a bit more of an upscale feeling.

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

There is a self-serve condiment area outside where you can grab more flatware and napkins. Tables are bussed after your meal. Because of it’s location in the middle of New Orleans Square, the French Market Restaurant is frequently busy. Tables are tightly squeezed into this space. There are high chairs available but you’ll need to leave your stroller outside the gate.

Though I’ve never had a very long wait in line for food, getting a table can be a challenge. If you have more than one adult in your party, I’d recommend that one person get the table and another grab the food to save time wandering around with your loaded trays.

 Photo Credits: Disney Parks

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

NEW ORLEANS-INSPIRED DINING

The menu offers a variety of Cajun-inspired dishes, including Po’ Boy sandwiches, Cajun Meatloaf (which is always my choice), Jambalaya and Louisiana Beef Stew. With three children we often just order several platters and share between us. However my son is a huge soup eater and we usually just order him his own bowl of the Creamy Corn Chowder in a bread bowl because it’s his absolute favorite (and he’s not willing to share it!)

My husband generally opts for the healthier choice with the French Quarter Chicken. Both the chicken and the meatloaf are generous portions that are served with smashed potatoes and veggies so they are easy to share with the kids. I think the prices are very reasonable, given the sizes of the dishes that are offered.

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

MINT JULEPS ALL AROUND

If you still have room after your meal or perhaps just craving a light snack, you can’t miss the Mint Julep Bar. This walk-up window is located on the opposite side of the entrance to the French Market Restaurant (facing the New Orleans Train Station). The Mint Julep Bar and the French Market Restaurant share the same sitting area.

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

Grab a non-alchoholic New Orleans Mint Julep and a bag of sugar-coated beignets that are shaped like Mickey (naturally!) Kick back and relax in the shade for a bit.

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

There is a restroom conveniently located just behind the Mint Julep Bar and next to the New Orleans Train Station so it’s a busy area and great for people watching. We love the French Market Restaurant for it’s location, ambiance and hearty food!

Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant  Disneyland Restaurant Review - French Market Restaurant

For more great quick service restaurants at Disneyland,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | Best Quick Service Restaurants at Disneyland Loop:


What dish would you order at the French Market Restaurant? Share with us in the comments!

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Kid’s Quick Breakfasts (with Nutritious Ingredients They’ll Never Notice)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CarnationSweepstakes #BetterBreakfast #CollectiveBias

Kid's Quick Breakfasts (with Nutritious Ingredients They'll Never Notice)

All kids should be eating breakfast. And I’ll even amend that to say that everyone should be eating breakfast. I wasn’t always in that camp but after noticing a “before and after” of sorts, I’m a breakfast convert. I feel so much more focused in the mornings when I eat a balanced breakfast and that goes for my kids too. I’ve come up with some quick breakfasts, with added nutritious ingredients my kids don’t even know about!

It wasn’t all that long ago that my “breakfast” consisted of a package of mini doughnuts and a diet soda from the convenience store. Now, we all know that breakfast is considered the “most important meal of the day” but it’s taken a new mindset to get me motivated towards more filling and nutritious breakfast choices. Having three little ones who watch and learn from me was a catalyst for change. Can’t really push a healthier breakfast on them if I’m eating doughnuts myself, right?

Being on a budget is another game-changer. All those convenience store and fast food stops are expensive. One of my excuses was that I just didn’t have time to make a well-balanced breakfast in the morning. However it takes just as long to make breakfast at home as it does to go through the drive-thru so that excuse goes out the window! Sure, it takes a little forethought to plan breakfast meals and to make sure you have ingredients on hand but once you start, the benefits of eating a nutritious breakfast far outweigh any reasoning I used to have about stopping to get mini doughnuts! And I’m setting a good example for my little ones too.


Are you ready to challenge yourself in expanding your breakfast repertoire?

Carnation Breakfast Essentials® is encouraging everyone to take the 7 Day Breakfast Challenge. Accept the challenge and complete the daily missions to win prizes. You can start by picking up Carnation Breakfast Essentials® powder or Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Ready-to-Drink bottles in strawberry, vanilla or chocolate flavors at Walmart. Keep reading on how to participate and enter.

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Carnation Breakfast Essentials® are already an important part of our healthy morning routine. My youngest doesn’t care for the taste of milk but will happily drink it down if I add Carnation Breakfast Essentials® powder. And I’ll admit that I’m the same way! One of my favorite ways to use Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder is in a nutritious smoothie.


Two “Sneaky” Smoothies

Here are two versions I make at home, one with Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder in chocolate and the other in vanilla. See at the bottom of the post for the full recipe.

Kid's Quick Breakfasts (with Nutritious Ingredients They'll Never Notice)

I add milk (soy, almond or cow) and vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder to a blender jar. Add in half a banana, a handful of fresh spinach and kale and a half cup of either frozen berries or frozen pineapple. The frozen fruit completely masks the flavor of the veggies.Whir it up and it’s a breakfast that’s packed with flavor and healthy ingredients. In fact, I just had one this morning!

Depending upon the fruit that you use, your smoothie may vary in color from pink or purple or green. If your little one is anything like mine, they may turn up their nose at a green smoothie, no matter if it tastes like berries or not. I like to sneak my son’s smoothie into a cup with a straw or a sippy cup so he never sees the color…success!

Kid's Quick Breakfasts (with Nutritious Ingredients They'll Never Notice)

I also make a smoothie with the chocolate Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder. I again add milk, a teaspoon of powdered peanut butter, a half of a frozen banana and a few ice cubes. My secret ingredient in this one is a teaspoon of ground flax seed. Blend it up and nobody is the wiser that they’re getting an extra boost of fiber!


What breakfast swaps can you make for a more nutritious morning?

Here are some quick and easy ideas:

Breakfast Sandwiches – Skip the drive-through and make breakfast sandwiches at home. A bagel or sourdough toast with scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese are a morning favorite. I layer a few pieces of spinach in there too, for my adventurous eaters that don’t turn up their nose at “green” food.

Kid's Quick Breakfasts (with Nutritious Ingredients They'll Never Notice)

Doughnuts – Instead of stopping at the doughnut shop or grabbing those mini “donuts” from the convenience store, consider baking them up yourself at home. Not only can you avoid all the frying and grease, you can use nutritious ingredients like pumpkin into your baked doughnuts. I bake these up in bulk on the weekend and freeze them so I just have to set out a few of them the night before to have them defrosted by morning.

Cereal – Swap out sugar-laden cereal for a more nutritious option with plenty of whole grains and fiber. If the kids want something sweet, add in chopped banana or strawberries to the bowl. We breakfast on hot cereal or oatmeal several times a week with a healthy serving of chopped apples, raisins, walnuts and just a little bit of brown sugar or agave to sweeten.

Kid's Quick Breakfasts (with Nutritious Ingredients They'll Never Notice)

Yogurt – A dollop of plain Greek yogurt becomes a bit like dessert with the addition of a few toppings. Chop up banana, walnuts, drizzle with agave and then, just for fun…some dark chocolate chips!

Muffins –  The muffins at the store are the size of Texas (more like a 2 or 3 serving sized and not individually portioned). Bake up a batch at home, “sneaking” in grated carrot or zucchini along with flax seed, ground oats or whole wheat flour for something that’s more filling and nutritious. I also freeze these and pull them out the night before so breakfast is ready.

Kid's Quick Breakfasts (with Nutritious Ingredients They'll Never Notice)

And if you really need to have breakfast on the go, Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Ready-to-Drink bottles will fill them up fast. We found these at Walmart and my little one chose strawberry. He was tickled pink with this treat he could drink in the car while we took the big kids to school.

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Are you ready to accept the challenge?

Carnation Breakfast Essentials® wants everyone to get into a #BetterBreakfast routine. Complete simple breakfast missions through the end of February for chances to win prizes in the #CarnationSweepstakes! Follow these easy steps:

1. Sign up at CarnationBreakfastChallenge.com

2. Complete a simple yet fun breakfast mission for a chance to win. New prizes will be revealed every day!

3. Come back any day in February to complete missions and see new prizes. The prizes range from a Fitbit to a GoPro and other awesome stuff!

4. Head to your favorite store to purchase a Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Nutritional Product and upload your receipt for five extra entries per day.

And be sure to check out the Carnation Breakfast Essentials Facebook page for more nutritious breakfast ideas.

Kid's Quick Breakfasts (with Nutritious Ingredients They'll Never Notice)

"Sneaky" Berry Smoothie with Leafy Greens

"Sneaky" Berry Smoothie with Leafy Greens

Ingredients

  • 8 oz milk (soy, almond or cow)
  • One Packet Vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials
  • Half a banana
  • Handful of fresh Kale/Spinach blend
  • Half cup of frozen berries

Instructions

  1. Add all to a blender cup and whir it up!
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://momrewritten.com/kids-quick-breakfasts-with-nutritious-ingredients-theyll-never-notice/


How will you accept the #BetterBreakfast routine? Share your ideas in the comments!