Is this even possible you may be thinking. I guess the word cheap is a relative thing but we have managed to eat reasonably inexpensively at Disney World for several years now. One of the first tips my husband posted on: the refillable mugs. This alone makes a huge difference. Even in any setting whether a beach destination, Disney, or even at home; drinks are a huge part of a food budget when eating out. The refillable mugs are a great price saver when staying at the parks for more than 3-4 days. The longer the stay, the bigger the price savings. The mugs can be refilled as many times as possible with soda, Powerade, lemonade, tea, coffee, and hot cocoa. The length of stay mug costs $17.99 which sounds like a lot but if you are staying even 7 days and fill the mug 5 times per day that is 51 cents/ refill. If you stay 14 days like we have that is 26 cents/ refill. You must fill the mugs at the resorts as there isn’t a place in the parks to fill them but we fill ours before every trip out, which is usually twice per day.
For food, we eat at the quick service restaurants at the parks and at the Contempo Cafe at The Contemporary Resort. We stay at the Bay Lake Tower a lot and the Contempo Cafe has reasonable prices and good selection with some nutritious choices. We have stayed at other resorts and found their quick service restaurants pretty good and usually more relaxed than at the parks.
At Epcot there are many quick service options that are both reasonable in price and filling and good.
At the Land in Epcot there is the Sunshine Seasons restaurant that has 5 food choices like a mini-food court. The Mexico Pavillion and many of the countries offer good food at reasonable prices.
At Magic Kingdom both Ray’s Starlight Cafe and Pinocchio’s Village Haus have good choices for about $10/ person per adult and less for kid’s meals. Ray’s has a huge 1/2 roasted chicken meal with great mashed potatoes and green beans for $10.99. ( We buy two meals and get an extra plate and feed all three of us). Ray’s has 3 food choices with different lines; one for chicken, one for sandwiches and burgers, and one for soups and salads.
At Animal Kingdom Flame Tree Barbecue is good and not too expensive. Pizzafari is okay but nothing special.
Hollywood Studios has a dearth of quick service options. What is there is sub-par in my opinion.
If you fly with Southwest, you can check two bags for free. This leads to another way to save. Pack an entire suitcase full of snacks and food. We did this for Christmas and saved money this way, especially since we like to snack quite a bit.
In summary, eating cheaply at Disney World isn’t possible but eating cheaper is.