10 Food Strategies for Plane Trips

We fly a lot – and we’ve learned that even in the chaos of last minute packing, it’s critical to take the time to prep a food carry on.

Of course, a few days before a flight, we always log on to the airline website to choose the best possible “Special Meal” option — assuming that a meal is being served it all.  We also always consider it a bonus if we get something edible – and that is usually on international carriers like Emirates or China Air where plant-based dishes are part of the native cuisine. On domestic flights, food is usually a snack, there’s no way to request anything special and, surprisingly,  it’s almost never plant-based – except for the occasional carrot and celery sticks with two cherry tomatoes and diary dip that you can buy.

So we’ve learned:

1. Keep a box of those little 1.5 oz size hummus containers from Costco in the fridge (a dozen to a box for a little more than what they sell one for with pretzel crisps at
airport kiosks).  You can even buy a big bag of those great pretzel crisps and plastic bag them. I take enough for a round trip and store them in the mini-bar at the hotel.

2. Make big roll-up sandwiches spread with veggie dips and stuffed with other goodies that won’t spoil.  (recipes to follow). Cut them in fourths on the diagonal and bag each quarter in a sandwich baggie.

3. Pack a quart size bag of celery sticks, broccoli florettes, cauliflower stems, jicama sticks, skinny asparagus, grape tomatoes, and raw (or par boiled) carrot sticks for dipping in the hummus or just munching.

4. Throw in fruit – apples, pears, grapes (especially grapes), bananas (be careful where you put them, they can really make a mess).

5. Nuts! I always have a bag of almonds in my purse. Also, keep a trail, granola or other snack mix on hand so it’s easy to bag a few handfuls.  Also toss in a half dozen good granola bars.

6.  Find a small insulated pack and keep it handy for loading up.  We  have a tall, flat bag with a velcro top that was a give-away at a convention.  It takes up a lot less room – packed and empty – then the cube-shaped ones with handles. One of these makes it easier to manage the food in a cramped economy seat and keeps the food from oozing onto your books or Kindle.

7. Carry tea bags.  I’ve been drinking green tea for way more than a decade so I got in the habit of always having some tea bags in my purse – since in the early days restaurants didn’t know what it was. A flight attendant will usually be happy to provide hot water – and airlines that serve tea as a standard alternative to coffee make it in advance with not such great quality black tea.

8. If you have access to an airport club, they are generally more in tune with their customers than the airline catering services.  We have found the little hummus containers, small peanut butter cups, pitas, fresh fruit, fruit “cocktail,” quality snack mixes, pretzels – and they don’t seem to mind if you pocket a few items for the trip

9. Troll the food kiosks on the gate-side of security for unexpected finds – the offerings are getting better and better  (that’s where we first discovered the hummus cups and pretzel crisps). But the prices are also getting higher and higher. So this is a good place for inspiration if not shopping.

10. Bring enough to share.  If you are traveling with a friend or business colleague, be sure you have enough for both of you – an offer to share will almost always be gratefully accepted (even by meagens*).

*Our grown son, the only one of us not eating a plant-based diet, has dubbed himself – and others of his ilk – a “meagen.”

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