Airports and airplanes are notorious for their poor culinary offerings, not to mention they’re expensive. But with just a bit of planning, you don’t have to be trapped when it comes to the food you’ll be eating while traveling. Here are some ideas of healthy food for long flights. I like to pack some snacks even for shorter flights just in case there’s a delay once I actually get to the airport and pass security. Keep in mind the TSA rules when packing for your flight. You’ll need to pack an empty water bottle to fill up after security or purchase one from the airport. Either way, make sure to stay hydrated! Depending on the time of my flight, I like to wake up and have a healthy and filling breakfast before beginning my day of travel. I’ll often start with a small smoothie, plus a fried egg or two just to make sure the kids and I are full and ready to go.
A few days before traveling I’ll whip up a few favorite recipes that will hold up to the flights and that I know we’ll be happy to eat anytime. Breakfast Cookies and Dried Cherry Seed Crisps are perfect for flights because they contain lots of protein from nuts and seeds to help keep you full, they’re fun to eat, and kids are always up for a sweet treat. Best of all, they’re healthy!
I love eating salad and have been known to carry on a very large salad with me to munch on just about as soon as the plane takes off. If I have the time, I like to go through Whole Foods on my way to the airport and build myself a big salad from their fabulous salad bar. When I know time will be crunched on travel day, I throw together a quick green salad the night before, make a vinaigrette to keep in a separate container, then all I need to do is combine the two and I’m all set for my in-flight meal.
A new family favorite that we’ve been taking on picnics recently is this Asian Succotash. It can stay out of the refrigerator for a while, and it doesn’t even need to be cooked! Just throw all the ingredients into a bowl, mix well, and serve. It’s a great airplane meal when you’re in the mood for something fresh and crunchy.
If you’re traveling with babies, check out this video Chloe and I made when she was just a wee one herself, and it was time for her first flight!
Here are some other grab-and-go ideas of foods you can take on the airplane:
I like to grab an apple as I’m heading out the door so I have it in case of a hunger emergency. If you are careful, you can also transport bananas, cherries, peaches, and just about anything else you crave. Make sure you pack them in their own bag and use care when moving around so you don’t bruise your beautiful fresh fruit!
We always have a few different types of pretzels in our pantry for a quick salty snack when the mood strikes. Don’t take very much of these on the plane because you don’t want to fill up on salt!
My dad loves to pack himself a sandwich for his in-flight meal. Choose a hearty bread that will hold up to the fillings, and try to stay away from mayonnaise or other spreads that will spoil quickly.
We often travel with cheese even when we’re just on the way home from school! So my kids are accustomed to having small snacks of cheese from time to time. Keep is wrapped so that it doesn’t harden.
Like I said above, kids are always in the mood for a sweet treat, and dark chocolate is a satisfying treat that isn’t loaded with sugar.
Catherine McCord is the founder of the popular website Weelicious.com, and creator of Weelicious Menus, a weekly meal planning service. She attended the Institute of Culinary Education, has worked in several high-end restaurants, and has appeared on Today, Good Morning America, and The Doctors, and in People, Parents, Lucky, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. A former model and television host, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Find more of Catherine’s recipes at weelicious.