Orlando: Dining on a Dime

Scenario: Family of four on a limited dining budget for 6 days. We have condensed it down for you, 3 spots to hit and 3 to maybe miss!

Dining Hits

Souplantation | Average pricing: $9-$11 p/person
While I feel Souplantation gets a bad wrap often (and I am not sure why), I hope this sheds some light on why I loved it while we were traveling. Healthy options, healthy options, and healthy options. I think you can understand by day three we were definitely craving greens, hearty soups and breads. Where else can you find a reliably fresh salad bar like theirs? What was even better, we mixed it up. The variety they offer, helped keep it from feeling redundant. And that is completely important on the road.

Bob Evans | Average pricing: $7 and up p/person
We dined here almost four times! What we liked most about the restaurant was their consistent freshness, prompt service and great tasting menu. Their menu consists of very yummy biscuits and gravy fair to the lighter menu items. We tried everything from the biscuit bowl to the spinach salad to the fish platter. We were pleased to find their restaurant so close to our hotel. Most of the food was as close to home cooked as you can get.

Cici’s Pizza | Average pricing: $6 p/person
Pizza, pasta and salad. Literally. Have you been to Chuck E. Cheese or a similar pizza buffet? Then you get the idea. What we liked about this place was the price. The food was similar to other buffets, not spectacular but for the price per person for lunch, it is definitely a hit for the budget minded. Just a side note, check around for discount coupons. I found BOGO coupons at local stores.

Dining Misses

Ponderosa Buffet
Do not follow the crowd on this one. Their buffet might be one of the least expensive in the area. I tried several items with much hesitation. Even the oatmeal made me regret stopping. Next time… well there will not be one. Lets just say that.

Magic Kingdom Restaurants
Disneyland has us spoiled. Most of my experiences dining at the park have been pretty good. Not the case in the Magic Kingdom. Over priced and an unfriendly employee left a bad taste in my mouth. Skip the long lines, pack a lunch in your backpack (we brought snacks, drinks and sandwiches). I am not sure their policy on taking in food but our bags were searched and they did not say anything.

Marriott, Pizza Hut
This is no dis on Marriott but Pizza Hut has to be one of the worst in general. Not only do we dislike our local PH but the one in the hotel very unappetizing. Overpriced for less than mediocre pizza. I will pass next time and skip the convenience of room service. This experience made us sorry we broke our pact (I have a blog post about that somewhere).

As a side note, I was not sponsored to write reviews for the above restaurants.

Aliens. Lobsters. Dinosaurs. Oh my!

Aliens. Lobsters. Dinosaurs. Oh my!
Since it is Earth Day, Consider the many ways you can help reduce waste even down to the toys you buy  your pooch.

I have spent the last several years in search of the most durable toy for my playful boxer pup doggie. She can destroy an inexpensive toy within hours minutes. We recently stumbled upon great brand at the local pet store. By recommendation for something more durable, we were pointed to this Tuffy Lobster (pictured below).

The price tag seemed a bit steep considering you can get most for a couple of bucks. But these are TOUGH, Larry the Lobster has lasted over a year! That averages to about $2/month so far (way less than what I was spending on the discounted, cheap quality toys). And the best part, less waste!

Shipping is just a 5.25 flat fee.

Website: http://www.vipproducts.com

Waste Not, Want Not

I went through my freezer today and I am happy to say that most everything is being eaten through thus less waste. This has not always been the case. Did you see that Oprah episode where the mom was throwing out food every week to replace it with fresh groceries? The amount of food she threw out was amazing. Might as well put your money in the trash.

I think often even I get caught up in the freshness of a product and the sell by dates. I usually rely on the smell test but thought there has to be a better measure. And there is.

Here is a quick list and general rule of thumb for when to toss those mystery packages in the freezer:

  • Ground meats: 3–4 months in the freezer
  • Hot dogs: 1–2 months in the freezer
  • Eggs: 3–5 weeks in the refrigerator
  • Dry onions: 2 months in the refrigerator
  • Opened lunch meats: 3–5 days in the refrigerator
  • Flour: lasts longest in the freezer
  • Dried peas and beans: up to 1 year

Keep this in mind too, some local food pantries will take canned food donations up to 2 years past their expiration dates.

With all this in mind, I encourage grocery store shopping early in the morning or late in the evening to get the best deals on discounted meats, breads and clearance bin goods. Stack this on top of your regular coupon finds and now you are saving!

Read more about sell by dates here.
“Besides, as University of Minnesota food scientist Ted Labuza explained to me, expiration dates address quality—optimum freshness—rather than safety and are extremely conservative.”

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