I was reading through the touring plan, and thier advice on whether or not to purchase a dining plan, or whether to take advantage of free dining vs room discount. I took a few minutes and priced out on Disney's site 3 separate vacations, all for 8 days / 7 nights, 6 day park hopper passes at the Disney Value resort, All Star Sports for 2 Adults, 2 teenage children.
1) Free dining offer, with the upgrade to sit down dining plan = $2957.88
2) Discounted Room offer, with the additional purchase of the sit down dining plan = $3977.62
3) Discounted Room offer, buying your own food. - $4239.70
(Assuming 1 sit down meal, 1 quick service meal & 1 snack)**
Therefore as you can see, no matter how you cut it, if you want a sit down meal dining plan, your best bet is to take advantage of Disney's free dining offer if you can.
Hopefully this helps anyone out that is debating meal plan or not. If you don't want sit down meals, or you want to share meals...maybe it's not the best way to go. And I can tell you that if you are at a deluxe resort...you need to beware, that sometimes the 30% Discount room rate with a purchases of the meal plan, does end up cheaper then the free dining offer.
**On our last trip we had free dining, but you still get a bill at the end of the meal, which shows you what you would have paid. Our sit down meals on average were $180. We did not buy additional alcoholic beverages or appetizers. This is where I assumed approx $45/pp for sit down meals, and $20/pp quick service x 7 days + $5 for a snack/pp/day for a total food bill of $1960 for the week. (Note, the dining plans are based on the amount of nights you spend on the resort, not the days)