Hit the Grocery Store
Even if you didn’t score the deal at The Signature most rooms at the MGM have at the very least a mini fridge that you can stock up with goodies. Hit up a grocery store on your way into town if possible and load up on water, snacks and other foods to keep you from hitting the stores within the MGM. The markup is INSANE.
Take this food with you when you go to any classes or the tradeshow. They will have tables of food and drinks set up in the convention area, but the pricing for the deli sandwiches and bottles of water are OUTRAGEOUS. I think the deli sandwiches were around $10 and the bottled water was $3 a shot. Even bringing an empty water bottle and filling it up at the numerous water fountains will save you some $$.
Cheap Eats at MGM
Last year WPPI offered discount dining cards to all attendees of the convention. The cards allowed each person to a buy one get one deal at many of the MGM restaurants - mostly the high end ones (and also drinks) as well as a discounted buffet price. The catch is that you had to order the same thing for most restaurants that offered BOGO and it did not include any of the tasting menus. Make sure that you register as soon as you get to Las Vegas, even if you aren't planning on attending any WPPI activities for a few days, to get this card to have on hand for all meals/drinks (if they offer it again that is).
There is a food court within MGM midway between the lobby and the convention area. They offer McDonalds, Haagen Dazs, Nathan's, Mama Ilardo's Pizzeria and Studio Wok. You’ll find that the typical McDonald’s rates are a bit higher here. Personally I wasn’t a fan of the pizza here, if you’re looking for GOOD pizza (that’s cheap!) read futher.
During the afternoons Diego was open last year offering a boxed lunch for around $10 or so which included a sandwich, chips, dessert and a drink and it would easily fill two people. The sandwiches are all premade so if you have any allergies you need to be forewarned of this. One of my favorites though as their food was VERY tasty and reasonable.
A few other cheap eats inside of MGM include the Stage Deli is located near the Race & Sports Book and has NY style eats for around $10. There’s always the buffet which had a discounted rate last year for WPPI attendees and ‘witchcraft which can be pricey but can easily be split between two people. Finally, there is Studio Cafe which isn't quite CHEAP (around $15 for a full meal) but is the cheapest eat inside MGM with table service and offers your typical greasy spoon fare.
For a list of all the dining options within MGM, visit their website. If you feel like splurging, I highly recommend Craftsteak.
Cheap Eats Nearby
By far my favorite place cheap place to eat last year was Sirrico’s Pizza over at NYNY. They are open until 3AM and their pizza kicks the pizza inside of MGM’s booty. While it may not be award winning, for $3 a slice at 3AM beggars are not choosers and I really loved this pizza. They are located on the game floor near the dueling piano bar.
Another cheap eat nearby is the food court within the Showcase Mall which is located to the north of MGM Grand. Inside their food court you'll find Wendy's, Subway, Del Taco, Noble Romans, Panda Express, Weinerschnitzel, Dreyer's Ice Cream and Duffy's Fish Fry. While not gourmet options by any means, it adds a bit of a variety to the offerings in the tiny food court inside MGM Grand.
Finally, my favorite cheap eat in Vegas is not too far from the MGM Grand - especially if you are staying at The Signature. Earl of Sandwich is located inside Planet Hollywood. Think of it as a gourmet Subway. They have REALLY good food that is made to order. If I remember correctly, I had a full meal here for about $6. If you're looking for a great meal at a great price, this is definitely worth the walk!
Hopefully this helps you find some cheap eats while you are in Vegas so that you can afford that lens you've been drooling over!
Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista, travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.