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 7 top tips for how 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.

Top Tips on Saving Money on Food at Disney Parks

1. Stay Off the Dining Plan

Contrary to what Disney will have you believe, the Dining Plan 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 so 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. There’s more about why to skip on the Disney Dining Plan on TravelingMom.

Top Tips on Saving Money on Food at Disney Parks

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.

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.

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.

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.

#Dinner is served! Gibson Girl #IceCream sundae #Disneyland #dessert #TMOM

A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

3. Dine 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.

Top Tips on Saving Money on Food at Disney Parks

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

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.

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.

Top Tips on Saving Money on Food at Disney Parks

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 Meals-PIN

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!)

Top Tips on Saving Money on Food at Disney Parks

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 you hotel room has one) 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 Prime Pantry for your grocery needs and have them delivered to your 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!

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Top Tips on Saving Money on Food at Disney Parks


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.








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? 




What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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, they can also be very economical. What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? Read on (hope you’re hungry!)

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?

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

Not only is sharing a more budget-friendly idea, it’s also great to try more than one dish. As a family of five, 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.

Go for the Big Platter

A big platter shared between two or more is usually your best bet when it comes to price and portion-size. 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. 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 Resort?

– Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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.

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! 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 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.

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

– Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Just a 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.

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

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).

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!

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.

Desserts and Sweets

I’m usually way too full after my meal to indulge in dessert so I wait and get a sweet 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 Resort?

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

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 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 your favorite dishes to share at Disney? Let us know in the comments!


I recommend Park Savers for discount Disney tickets! (affiliate link)

Park Savers affiliate link

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.


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


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


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


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


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!


I recommend Park Savers for discount Disney tickets! (affiliate link)

Park Savers affiliate link





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.


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.


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

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


  • 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


  1. Add all to a blender cup and whir it up!
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How will you accept the #BetterBreakfast routine? Share your ideas in the comments!

Eat at Home & Save – Creamy Cashew Chicken and Rice Recipe

Eat at Home & Save - Creamy Cashew Chicken and Rice Recipe

I’ve had this recipe (handed down from me from an family member) for nearly 20 years. I’ve always loved this dish but I don’t make it often because I don’t always have all the ingredients on hand. I don’t often buy mushrooms. Very rarely buy whipping cream. Parsley? Nope, don’t usually buy that one. And cashews…well, if there were cashews in my house, I’d have already eaten them because they are my favorite nut.

Eat at Home & Save - Creamy Cashew Chicken and Rice Recipe

My husband had never had my Cashew Chicken because it’s been about 8 years since I made it! But this week the stars aligned and I just happened to have every single ingredient available (except the parsley, I did have to pick that up fresh at the grocery). And oh, was I glad I made it because it was just as good as I remembered. I even love it rewarmed the next day after the flavors have blended in the fridge overnight. It’s worth the extra grocery trip to get parsley.

Definitely use all the ingredients. I’ve made this dish in the past, omitting the mushrooms or the parsley, but really every ingredient adds great flavor so don’t skimp. Even though I don’t care for mushrooms myself usually, I use them in this dish because it gives the sauce an incredible flavor.

Eat at Home & Save - Creamy Cashew Chicken and Rice Recipe

Now that I’m a stay-at-home-mom I’ve been better with my meal planning and going through my old recipes. I’d gotten in the habit of buying the same ol’ same ol’ at the grocery and not picking up too many extra things. But it’s those little things that definitely add flavor and interest to your dish. It’s not that hard to add a few extra ingredients to your shopping list and try something creative. Especially when they are budget friendly ingredients, like in this dish. I bought the mushrooms in a big pack at Costco and there have been plenty left over for my husband to cut up over his salad and for me to saute and serve with beef. The brown rice we also buy at Costco, in huge bags. The bottle of cooking sherry I’ve had for a while. It’s not very expensive and and I use a little bit often to give my sauces a nice nutty flavor. The cashews can be pricey but a little goes a long way here, since you just sprinkle a few on top of your dish.

Let me know what you think of this rich and creamy dish. Yep, it’s heavy on the butter and cream, but we don’t eat like this very often. Besides it’s brown rice and that’s healthy, right? When I plated it and served it to my foodie son, he said, “I can’t eat this! It’s too pretty!” I knew my work was done (and yes, he gobbled up every bite and proceeded to lick the plate…really!)

Creamy Cashew Chicken and Rice

Creamy Cashew Chicken and Rice


  • 2 Chicken Breasts, boneless & skinless
  • 1/4 cup dry Sherry (or apple juice)
  • 1 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms OR 8-10 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 Tbsp butter (divided)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup salted cashews
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Brown rice, cooked and hot, ready to serve


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together sherry, cornstarch, garlic, salt and curry. Add chunks of chopped chicken breast and mix well. Set aside to marinate, at least 15 minutes.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter and add sliced mushrooms. Saute until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add rest of butter (2 Tbsp) to the pan. Add chicken and sauce and saute until golden brown.
  4. Return mushrooms back to the pan and stir to combine.
  5. Slowly add whipping cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring until cream is boiled down and thickened, about ten minutes.
  6. On each individual plate, add scoops of hot brown rice and spoonfuls of chicken with sauce.Sprinkle with chopped parsley and nuts just before serving.
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How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Eat Healthfully at Disneyland…and still enjoy your meals

Going to Disneyland is a celebration for all senses, taste included!  In addition to the top-notch attractions and entertainment, there are also countless unique and delicious meals and treats only to be found within the Disney Parks. But what if you’re aiming to eat more healthfully and a giant turkey leg or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick aren’t a part of your diet? No worries, there are lots of great dining and snack choices throughout the Disneyland Park that will keep you on track! You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Up bright and early to hit the Parks & having breakfast in the stroller


Most important meal of the day, right? Consider eating breakfast before you come to the Park. The smell of frappachinos, buttery pastries and vanilla-scented Mickey waffles will be wafting through the air from the Starbucks and Jolly Holiday Bakery as you walk down Main Street, U.S.A!

I usually bring food to store in the hotel fridge and fill up at daybreak with Greek yogurt, a banana and fibrous flake cereal. My kids usually enjoy granola bars and fresh fruit.

  • I also suggest dining in the Downtown Disney District before the Parks open. We’ve picked up filling and delicious egg sandwiches and omelettes at Earl of Sandwich and the prices are extremely reasonable. Jamba Juice can make a delicious smoothie (choose the low-sugar option).

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

  • If you want to dine inside the Park, River Belle Terrace has a plate of fresh, seasonal fruit (skip the Biscuits n’ Gravy!)
  • Order the fruit platter at Flo’s V8 Cafe and you’ll also receive an oat bran muffin and low fat yogurt.
  • If you choose something healthy like the Spinach and Tomato Egg White Fritatta from Carnation Cafe, request that heavy toppings (like sour cream or fried potatoes) be served on the side so you can control the portion size or share them with someone else in your group.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Fill up on fresh fruit


There are snack carts placed all over the Parks so be prepared when that heavenly popcorn or cinnamon-scent of churros hits you! You can always bring in your own snacks to the Park and packing cut veggies or melon is a great way to eat healthy on your trip.

  • Some carts (like Tropical Imports, Fillmore’s Taste-In and Fairfax Market) also offer fresh fruits, like bananas, apples, grapes, mangoes and pineapple spears. They even have veggies and hummus.
  • Need a little something heartier? Swing wide of the corn dog cart and pick up an Outback Vegetable or Banyan Beef Skewer from Bengal Barbecue. Dipping sauces can contain lots of sugar so it’s best to skip.
  • Craving something sweeter? The Dole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar is light and refreshing with pineapple soft serve and pineapple juice.
  • You can get vanilla ice cream with no sugar added at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain. No sugar added butter pecan is available at Clarabelle’s & Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. Have it served in a cup instead of a sugar cone.
  • A frozen banana is also a decent choice as it’s lightly coated in chocolate and nuts. It will also take a little longer to eat since it’s frozen so you won’t devour it as quickly.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

A frozen banana is a healthy indulgence on a hot day


Consider having a filling breakfast and a hearty snack and you might be able to stave off a big lunch and just have dinner instead. Or  make one of these healthy lunch choices.

Salads can be a great idea for lunch and there are lots of salads available at the Disneyland Resort. If you’re watching calories, ask them not to add cheese. Avoid salads served in a tostada shell and always request dressing on the side. Italian or oil and vinegar are going to be lighter than creamy dressings like Ranch or blue-cheese.

  • The Picnic Salad at the Hungry Bear is a nice mix, including turkey breast, strawberries and Feta cheese.
  • The Crescent City Salad at Cafe Orleans comes with either blackened chicken or Atlantic salmon (just ask for it without the caramelized pecans).
  • The River Belle Terrace offers Becky Thatcher’s Vegetarian Chopped Salad that includes hearty and filling proteins like hard-boiled egg, garbanzo & black beans.
  • For other options, The Troubadour Tavern offers a baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce. Just ask for the cheese on the side so you can control the portion or eliminate all together.
  • Village Haus and Smokejumpers Grill have a Garden Veggie Burger (hold the cheese).
  • Tomorrowland Terrace offers a chicken breast sandwich with fresh veggie toppings and avocado salsa. Choose the fruit side over fries.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamong


If you’re eating healthy, you already know to avoid sugar-laden sodas. Alcoholic drinks are served at Disney California Adventure Park and Guests can indulge in frozen margaritas and beer on tap in the Paradise Pier area, specialty drinks at the Cove Bar and wine at Wine Country Trattoria. Keep in mind that alcohol contains additional calories so if you’re trying to be healthy, don’t drink your calories…save them for food!

You can bring in bottles of water with you into the Parks to re-hydrate throughout the day. You can also request free ice water from any counter service restaurant. Snack carts offer a variety of waters, including coconut water.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Dinner at the Plaza Inn


Dinner is a great time to consider sharing a platter of food. Even if the dish is more indulgent, it’s not quite as bad if you share between 2 or 3.

  • The Citrus-fired grilled chicken platter at Rancho del Zocalo is large and delicious (ask if they can sub black beans for the refried).
  • The oven-roasted chicken platter at French Market Restaurant is another favorite to share.
  • Platters at Plaza Inn are enormous. We buy two plates of fried chicken and share between the five of us. With the sides of mashed potatoes & green beans, we all have enough to eat (and if you’re really watching the calories, you can always remove the skin from the chicken and request no gravy on the potatoes).
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

This is ONE THIRD of a platter from Plaza Inn! That’s plenty of food, enough for sharing.

  • You can’t go wrong with the Mediterranean skewers at the Paradise Garden Grill. The grilled meat and veggie/tofu skewers are served with rice pilaf and cucumber salad, making them a light and refreshing meal (skip the baklava though!)
  • At Tomorrowland Terrace, choose a portobello sandwich with loads of veggies. Ask for cheese and aioli on the side and fruit instead of fries.
  • The soups at Pacific Wharf Cafe are so delicious, but opt for broth-based rather than cream. And try to minimize the nibble to the sourdough bread bowl!

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

  • At Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta you can order a single slice of pizza. Both locations offer a version that skips the fatty meats and tops your slice with seasonal veggies. Round out your meal with a small side salad.
  • Carnation Cafe offers the Chef’s Vegan Burger made of beans & veggies and served with lots of fresh vegetable toppings on a multigrain roll.
  • The Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamonga is large and filling.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Platters of fresh Mexican food, enough for four people to share.

Tips to keep in mind when ordering

As a rule when ordering, avoid anything that is fried, battered, smothered, candied or has a creamy sauce. Look for grilled meats and veggies served without sauces.

Don’t be afraid to request a substitution. You can swap fruit instead of fries at counter service restaurants. When ordering at full-service restaurants, ask the Cast Member to put toppings on the side so you can control how much you want to add or leave off. If there is any question about the dish, ask them how it is prepared so you’ll know before it’s in front of you. If you have special dietary requests or food allergies, read this section from the Disneyland website and know that you can speak directly to the restaurant staff or chef with your concerns.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Skip the buffet if counting calories. Before you know it, you’ve eaten 12 ribs!

If calorie-counting, it’s best to skip the buffets. Unfortunately this eliminates most Character dining experiences, except for Ariel’s Grotto. You can dine with the Princesses and still order a healthy choice off the menu for either breakfast or lunch!

Kids can eat healthy at Disneyland too! When choosing kid’s meals, simply look for the Mickey Check. Mickey Check meals meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines as a complete meals. Some Mickey Check kid’s meals are also vegetarian.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Enjoy a corn dog, but share it between the family.

Just one bite. If you and your family would love to indulge in something fun or decadent, buy a corn dog. Treat yourself to a caramel-covered apple. Get that frozen treat or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick. And then share it between all of you. Everyone gets a few bites and you all can enjoy the treat!

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

What are your favorite healthy dining dishes at Disneyland? Share with me in the comments!



Looking for ways to save on your Disney vacation?  I recommend Park Savers for discount Disney tickets! (affiliate link)

Park Savers affiliate link

Healthy Eating – Making Changes in the Kitchen Towards a Healthier You!

Healthy Eating - Making Changes in the Kitchen Towards a Healthier You! Tons of ideas for getting out of your eating rut and getting healthy.

These are my top 11 tips for ditching the bad eating habits and getting healthy in the kitchen. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring but it does take a certain commitment. Fortunately healthy eating pays off in the end, with more energy and a healthy body.

I am probably the last person on earth who would ever have given healthy eating advice. Several years ago, before I remarried I was a self-confessed fast food addict. There were days when I ate fast food meals three times a day. Needless to say I gained quite a bit of weight and felt sluggish. Getting off the fast food drive-thru track wasn’t easy. It was a die-hard habit and I absolutely went through withdrawals.

Do I still have pizza or burgers on occasion? Yes, but it’s the exception and not the norm. That’s one of the most important thing to remember when choosing healthy eating. There are a few things that kept me sane and yes, it does get easier to eat healthfully!

One thing at a time

Changes like this are hard to make overnight. It’s ingrained in you that you go out for breakfast after church each Sunday. Or that you always buy cookies for the kid’s lunches, because well, you’ve always bought them. Take things one at a time. Best to make a list of changes that you’d like to make and be specific. Several years ago my list would have said, “Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, eat out less, control portions, eat a better breakfast, quit drinking Diet Coke”. I started with the portion control which is probably the best and easiest place to start. Then I moved towards eating out less simply by packing lunches each day and preparing a dinner plan so I wasn’t scrambling each night. I definitely eat more veggies and am still working on getting more fresh fruit (I do aim for an apple a day!) And I am proud to say that I am one month free of my Diet Coke addiction. Those resolutions took me several years, nothing happened overnight. Choose one thing off your list and start now. When you feel like you’ve hit your stride in that area, work on the next item!

Healthy Eating ideas - Cast iron skillet cornbread with Walt Disney's Chili

Walt Disney’s Chili

Have someone who holds you accountable

There are times now when I’d love to pick up burgers and fries for the family instead of cooking. And I’ll admit it, sometimes we do hit In n’ Out but those moments are few and far in between and not the norm. My husband helps to hold me accountable for what we choose to eat. Do I think he’s a meanie sometimes when I really want to order a pizza and he says he’s grilling chicken instead? Yep! But that’s okay, because he has our family’s best interest at heart. And I know if I didn’t have him holding me accountable I’d be eating all sorts of junk that I shouldn’t. Do I still go out to pizza with my girlfriends? Yes, I do but I temper the heavy-calorie days by packing my healthy lunches and eating lots of fresh greens the rest of the week. Who in your life can hold you accountable for your meal choices? Choose someone you’ll still love and respect, even after they’ve given you that look when you reach for a second helping of dessert!

Choose freshly prepared

I grew up in a household that thrived on boxed rice mixes. You know the kind with the sodium-laden seasoning packets? I used to buy them too until I got my rice maker and realized how easy and inexpensive it was to make your own rice. A huge bag of brown rice from Costco is so cheap and our $25 rice maker stops when the rice is done so it doesn’t over or under cook. We add chicken broth or our own seasonings to the water when cooking if we want additional flavor but most of the time we eat it plain. Consider all of the boxed, canned or frozen convenience foods that you could be making in bulk on your own. It’s wonderful to know exactly what ingredients we are eating too. I’ve started mixing up our own salad dressings, cooking beans from scratch and only baking treats like cookies from whole ingredients.

DIY Creamy Pesto Salad Dressing (Old Spaghetti Factory recipe) - My favorite dressing, and so easy to make at home!!

Creamy Pesto Dressing

Take it with you

I’m not a leftovers lover. I don’t really want to eat last night’s rewarmed meal but I often do. Some foods are better than others the second time around, naturally. Given a night in the fridge, meatloaf, lasagna and salad dressings have had time to let their flavors develop and meld. To avoid the temptation of hitting the fast food drive-thru or the office snack machine, make sure you are well-stocked with healthy snacks. Pack your lunch the night before so you only have to grab and go in the morning.

Every few hours snack on a little fat, some protein and a carb to keep up your metabolism (a cheese stick, a few almonds and a small piece of fruit is appropriate). Snacks should hover around 100 calories. Pack things in a cooler lunch bag if you plan on being out and about. My husband makes it a point to keep snacks with him at all times, usually a small bag or nuts to nibble when hunger strikes. It’s nice to have when we’re out running errands and we aren’t close to home. Having the snacks with us helps us resist the urge to stop at a convenience store for treats.

Stay home

I love eating out. It’s nice to get something that you don’t prepare at home and to have someone else clean the dishes. But do I really think that it’s worth the $15+ plate of food when that could easily be enough to feed my entire family several meals at home? I very rarely eat out because it’s expensive, portions are too large and it’s unnecessary when we have food to prepare at home. When you eat at home you know what you’re putting in your food, how much salt or butter has been added to the vegetables and you can control the portions.

Little swaps

Switch out things in the pantry towards healthier choices. White rice for brown. Whole wheat bread instead of white. Fresh oranges instead of processed orange juice. Vegetarian night instead of a meat dish once or twice a week. Not adding butter or salt to the steamed veggies. A dollop of Greek yogurt in your taco instead of sour cream. Fresh fish instead of steak.

If your family is used to doing things a certain way, you may hear some grumblings. Believe me, I was a big time grumbler when my husband brought home a huge bag of uncooked pinto beans. I’ve never liked beans but after preparing them fresh, I actually enjoy them (don’t tell him that!) Think of little swaps that you could make in your meal planning that could remove fat/calories/cholesterol and move your dishes into a more healthy zone.

Healthy Eating ideas - Crock Pot Pinto & easy! {Saving up for Disney}

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

Cook in bulk and your leftovers will be your own “fast food”

When making things like beans, biscuits or soups, I tend to prepare double and freeze the leftovers. On those days when your cupboards are bare or you just know that you aren’t going to have it in you to cook dinner that night, simply pull out a bag and let it defrost. Voila! You’ll just have to reheat when you get home and have a hearty meal that’s healthier, cheaper and just as fast as anything you’d find in the drive-thru.

Eat at Home & Save - Recipe for using leftovers - Turkey & Rice Soup

Use Those Leftovers! Turkey and Rice Soup

Love the slow cooker

Toss in fresh ingredients in the morning and have a healthy meal when you get home. Pair it with freshly steamed veggies and you have a balanced dinner (hopefully with leftovers to eat at lunch the next day). We never seem to have leftovers with this amazing dish by Fabio Viviani! A small amount of meat is perfect when cooked in a hearty sauce so you won’t need much to satisfy. Resist the recipes that call for a bunch of canned ingredients as this is going to increase the sodium intake and calorie count. A search for Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes on Pinterest revealed tons of fantastic looking recipes!

Healthy Eating ideas - Crock Pot spare ribs

Start the morning on a good note

I am a terrible breakfast eater who is trying to reform herself. In the old days, a “good” breakfast was either a slice of pastry that my dad had bought at the grocery, a breakfast sandwich picked up from a drive-thru or a doughnut from the convenience store (with a Diet Coke, of course!). Talk about a major blood sugar spike that would have me crashing by 9:00 am! I have started waking up about 15 minutes earlier to cook my kids a healthy breakfast. Sometimes it’s scrambled eggs with a little cheddar cheese, toast and a half a banana. Sometimes they have oatmeal with apples and a glass of milk. I like to make myself a fresh fruit smoothie or just a single piece of wheat toast with a thin spread of peanut butter and a half a banana. I know that if I eat a healthy breakfast at home when I first get up, it’s helps satisfy the tummy-grumbles, gets my metabolism moving and I’ll be less likely to stop and grab junk food.

Log each bite 

Definitely a great place to start, especially if you are a mindless in-front-of-the-computer nibbler like I am. Are you eating right now? *wink* Get a tiny note pad and log your food every day, even the small bites of your kid’s leftover mac and cheese. This is just to give you an idea what you are consuming and put your intake in perspective. At some point you’ll want to figure out the calories to see where you’ll been falling approximately each day. I’ve personally used the Lose It! app on my phone and love how I’m able to plug in my calories, scan bar codes, add in exercise and search for foods. It’s a helpful food log that you can check through the day to make sure you’re staying on track.

Portion Control

One of the “tricks” that I learned right away when I started on the healthier eating bandwagon was to drastically cut my portions. It really snapped things into perspective when I started serving myself half of my normal portions…and I was completely full and content! If you’re used to serving yourself two slices of toast with breakfast try just one. You can still have a cookie, just have two instead of four. Do you find that you’re still hungry? Double the fruits and veggies and continue to half the other portions. Serve up meal plates in the kitchen and promptly refrigerate leftovers to resist the temptation to go back for seconds.

Healthy Eating ideas - Summer Pasta Salad recipe {www.savingupfordisney}

Summer Pasta Salad

I still struggle with certain aspects of healthy eating. But I’m human and I know that “slow and steady wins the race”. Any changes that I make have to be implemented slowly in order for them to stick! I am a work in progress and I’m happy with the changes I’ve made so far.

What are your healthy eating tips? Anything helpful that keeps you on track? Share below in the comments!

I am not a doctor so please consult yours before trying any of these tips.


Eat at Home and Save – Use those Leftovers! Turkey and Rice Soup

Eat at Home & Save - Recipe for using leftovers - Turkey & Rice Soup
We have had leftovers for lunch and dinner for the last two days since Thanksgiving. No complaints here…it was delicious the first time and just as tasty the fourth time!
If you have an inkling to mix things up with your turkey leftovers, I highly recommend this recipe. You can use up some of your turkey leftovers and even freeze some for a future meal.
I’ve always liked rice in my soup but I don’t like how the rice gets bloated and mushy after a day in the fridge. In this recipe, the rice is set aside and mixed together with the soup just before serving. We had ours with sourdough rolls and lots of freshly cracked black pepper, yum!
Eat at Home & Save - Recipe for using leftovers - Turkey & Rice Soup

Use Those Leftovers! Turkey & Rice Soup
1 Tbsp butter
1 small (1/2 cup) onion, chopped
2 to 3 ribs (1 cup) celery, sliced
2 to 3 medium (1 cup) carrots, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
48 ounces (6 cups) chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 cups chopped turkey (fat and bones removed)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown rice)
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots; continue cooking 3-5 minutes or until onions are softened.

Add chicken broth, water and paprika. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 7-9 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil and carrots are tender. Stir in chicken and parsley. Cook 5-7 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon cooked rice into a bowl. Ladle soup over the rice and stir to combine.

Eat at Home & Save - Recipe for using leftovers - Turkey & Rice Soup