When I was little, my babysitter always packed me a big bag of travel snacks for a flight. The contents of the Ziploc freezer bag varied, but there was usually a sandwich or yogurt (ahhh the days before TSA confiscated yogurt) and some combo of fresh fruit, granola bars, Goldfish, and fruit leathers. Maybe a personal bag of gummy bears or Oreo Minis if she was feeling festive.
It didn’t matter where I was headed or how long the flight would be, I NEVER left home without a fully stocked snack pack. (Thanks, Arleen!)
Looking back, this practice was clearly born out of necessity. My family only ever made flights by the skin of our teeth—if we made them at all—and there was a snowball’s chance in hell that we’d have enough time to grab food at the airport. On top of that, my little brother and I were obnoxiously picky eaters and therefore unlikely to get down with the airline meal. So I can only imagine the hunger-induced havoc we would have wreaked in-flight sans personal snack packs. Arleen knew what was up.
Even though I’m an “adult” now, and I’ve been aggressively coached by my roommate to arrive at the airport with a few minutes to spare, I still travel with a snack pack for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, knowing that I have a bunch of boss healthy treats to choose from at the airport and on the plane comforts me. It also saves cash, helps me avoid Sour Patch binges, and often earns me new friends. Sometimes, its contents are even powerful enough to persuade Logan into the middle seat. So many wins!
Given that peak travel/wedding season is almost upon us, I thought I’d share some of my snack pack go-tos in case you’d like to follow my lead and start traveling with your own. (There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination looking like an Oompa-Loompa because you were forced to eat Panda Express on your layover, amiright?) The rules for snack pack items are very similar to those for sassy desk lunches—i.e. they must be healthy, delicious, travel well, and not be smelly!!—and I tend to fall back on the foolproof dips, grain salads, and portable treats below. Mix and match as you see fit, friends.
Domesticate ME!’s Favorite In-Flight Eats:
Easy Edamame Dip. Take your superfood snack in a little Tupperware with a Ziploc baggie of cut vegetables or brown rice crackers so you can do da dip in-flight. Just a heads up, you’ll want to put your dip in one of those baby 3-ounce Tupperware containers to avoid any potential issues with TSA, which has a 3.4-ounce limit on gels/liquids. (Yes, dips are subject to the gel/liquid rule. Sad, but true.) I usually throw my 3-ounce dip container right in the Ziploc bag with my veggies/crackers.
Super Smooth Chipotle Hummus. This silky hummus with some pita chips or veggies puts an in-flight Sabra pack to shame. For real. (Again, make sure you bring it in a container that’s less than 3.4 ounces.)
Spiralized Carrot Salad with Herbs and Toasted Almonds. Crunchy and refreshing, this pretty, nutrient-packed salad meets healthy snack pack criteria and then some. Plus, your friends/seatmates will be impressed by your trendy spiralized feast. Compliments/shameless ogling are good for travel morale!!
Three Bean Quinoa Salad. There’s no better portable plane meal than a grain salad. Not only are they great at room temperature, they’re also packed with nutrients and extremely filling. The combo of quinoa, beans, and lemon vinaigrette in this recipe is a serious winner, and a single cup of salad will keep you satisfied for hours. Trust.
Quinoa Broccoli Slaw. See above thoughts on grain salads. Quinoa for the win.
Kale Salad with Quinoa, Cranberries and Toasted Almonds. While other lettuces get sad and droopy after they’re dressed, kale only becomes for flavorful and tender the longer it marinates in dressing, so it’s the ideal travel green. No need to mess with a salad dressing container! (Plus, kale makes you smarter and prettier, and God knows we all need its magic when we fly.)
Farro with Kale Pesto, Zucchini and Parmesan. For those that don’t share my quinoa fetish, I recommend this flirty farro option. Packed with fresh flavor and green goodness, I swear this salad (and a giant bottle of water) will help prevent post-travel fatigue.
Lemon-Coconut Energy Bites. I put a bag of these addictive tropical treats in the freezer last night for today’s snack pack (I’m currently en route to a wedding in the Bahamas), and I’m verrrry proud of myself.
No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites. Some may think these pumpkin bites are a seasonal snack pack item, but I dig them year-round. I recommend freezing them overnight before traveling, as starting with frozen balls in your bag ensures that they won’t be a squished, melted mess when treat time rolls around.
Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding. Chia pudding is surprisingly satisfying and energizing, so I highly recommend bringing it for a light breakfast or snack. However, this is another instance where you’ll have to deal with the 3.4-ounce limit, so I recommend packing a 3-ounce container along with a large container of cut fruit. Just pour the pudding over the cut fruit (maybe get some nuts involved?) when you’re ready to eat. You can also get a container of yogurt at the airport and stir in your chia pudding for a boost of fiber, protein and omega-3s.
Dark Chocolate Bark with Apricots and Candied Pepitas. I have an inexplicable urge to eat candy when I travel, so I like to have some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate bark on hand as a semi-responsible indulgence. (Unless it’s Sunday. In which case, fuck the bark and give me all the Sour Patch Kids.)
Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt. Because sometimes you really need a cookie at 39,000 feet. It’s best to be prepared.
And in case you want to go super basic, here are a few super easy (non-recipe) ideas for your in-flight snack pack:
-Brown rice cakes with a travel pack of Justin’s almond butter
-Raw nuts/trail mix.
-Apples and bananas (They’re the least messy fruit choices.)
-A sandwich on hearty whole grain bread or a wrap. Hummus and veggies is my favorite sandwich option, closely followed by almond butter, bananas, and hemp seeds on a whole grain tortilla. (Avoid tomatoes and dressings, which will turn your sando soggy.)