As some of you know from reading here on the site and on my Facebook page, we are leaving a week from this Sunday for our family’s New Year’s vacation to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. The younger kids won’t find out until Christmas Day that they will be spending New Year’s with Mickey and the gang. This will be their first trip to the Magical Kingdom and we’ve been planning this surprise trip since early April. It’s really hard to believe we are just about one week away. The kids actually think we’re just driving big brother back home to LA. I can hardly wait to see their faces on Christmas morning.
There’s one feature I took into consideration when planning this family trip. I wanted to keep my spending costs down and realistic. They say going to Disneyland is expensive for a family and that the average family realistically now a days can’t really afford a family vacation to Disneyland unless they want to come home broke, skip payments on a few bills, charge up those credit cards and eat Top Ramen Noodles for the next month. It’s expensive!
But, with a little planning, research and discipline, it doesn’t have to be. My first step was doing some research online. This is absolutely a MUST in my opinion. I found some really greats ideas and tips on taking a family to Disneyland and on how we can save money without breaking the bank. (I’ll share more on some really good sites later).
I read about one family staying at a hotel called the Staybridge Suites in Anaheim and what a wonderful experience their family had there. So I researched the information about the hotel and I found that this hotel fit our family budget and my family “kitchen” criteria.
Yes, you read right, I wrote kitchen. Nowadays, there are certain hotels that offer a fully equipped kitchenette in the room which usually consists of a fridge/freezer, stove top/oven, microwave, toaster oven and a coffee pot. The Staybridge Suites offers all of this except the oven. But you are allowed to bring your crock pot.
I know most people while they are on vacation, don’t even want to think about cooking or their kitchen. But folks, this is where you save your family some money. Plan your meals. Disney has a wealth of great restaurants, and we’ll be tempted to eat at them but it’s expensive if you don’t research and plan where you’re going to eat. So, we’re not going with the intention to eat out or at the park if we don’t have to.
While I was busy in the kitchen on my meal prep day, I started thinking about a post sharing my approach on how I plan on saving money on our trip by doing a little family vacation cooking and that it might be useful to some readers with family’s thinking about a trip to Disneyland or some other family vacation. Here’s the start of my family’s experience:
I started my planning the same way I do with my regular weekly meal planning. Planning every meal will save your family some valuable time so you can enjoy your family vacation. On my Facebook page, we discussed some great ideas for using a crock pot and I did check with the hotel to see if they would allow us to bring one and they said yes! Having the option for a crock pot is huge for me. The free shuttle service to and from the hotel allows us to leave the park to take breaks, freshen up or grab a quick bite. With this factor in mind, I can throw ingredients into the crock pot when we leave for the park and dinner will be ready when we come back.
The Staybridge Suites hotel offers a complimentary breakfast bar each morning for their guests. From the picture I saw on their website, it looks to be a pretty good setup. But, just in case, I have cereal, homemade cinnamon rolls, milk and orange juice on my breakfast list.
For lunches, I have some lunch meat and cheeses in the freezer and will pack those in the cooler when the time comes. We’re having Turkey on Christmas day and there should be enough leftovers for maybe some Turkey and Cranberry sandwiches or roll ups so I’ll freeze some leftover turkey for our trip. I also have PB&J on my list too.
We have an abundance of snacks that I’ve already started to pack in reusable shopping bags… Dried fruit, trail mix, popcorn, chips, crackers and cookies (some homemade and some store bought). I’ll also pack some energy bars or trail mix bars for the park. I’ll purchase some fresh fruit and veggies for snacking when we get closer to leaving.
For dinner, I want my meal choices to be as simple as possible so I could just throw something together in the crock pot or on the stove top. I’ll need to plan dinner for 5 nights with some flexibility, in case we do decide to eat out one night. These are my ideas:
- Salsa Chicken
- Hawaiian Chicken
- Crock Pot Spaghetti
- Crock Pot Sloppy Joes (I’ll brown the ground beef, onion and garlic ahead of time and freeze)
- Ham and Cheese Sliders (made ahead, frozen and will reheat in toaster oven)
I’m still doing some last minute research online and now I’m looking for tips on Pinterest. If I find any good ones, I’ll share them with you on my Disneyland Family Vacation Pinterest Board.
I ’d love to know your favorite Vacation Cooking Tips! Please share!