12 Healthy Foods You Can Bring Through Airport Security

Airplane healthy snacks

Healthy Meals You Can bring through airport security

There’s nothing like making it to the airport and through security, then realizing your options for in-flight food comes down to chips, pretzels, or candy bars. Prepping your own food may be far from your mind when you are packing for a trip, but there is are many benefits to bringing your own snacks and meals. Not only will you eat healthier, but you won’t waste money on overpriced airport food, and you’ll always be prepared in case there is a delay or you’re stuck sitting on the tarmac.

Because the TSA is so strict with carry-on baggage rules, many people don’t realize that you can bring most foods through security with no problem. The only things you need to avoid are larger jars or bottles of anything liquid or gel-like, such as yogurt, sauces, dressings, etc. The TSA has a good overview of traveling with food here.
With all the traveling I’ve been doing this year, stocking up on healthy foods is always top of my list before a trip.

Here are some healthy foods you can bring through airport security.

Snacks You Can Bring Through Airport Security 

  • Nuts + dried fruit 
  • Beef jerky – such as Krave, Kooee Snacks, or Chefs Cut
  • Cut up raw vegetables – if the airport sells hummus, purchase a small container to pair with your veggies
  • Dried chickpeas or beans – such as Saffron Road, or easily make your own: rinse and dry a can of chickpeas, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and other spices, and roast at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until crispy.
  • Whole grain crackers + cheese – pack a few slices of cheese or cheese sticks from Sargento snacks or Horizon to put on Simple Mills or Back to Nature crackers 
  • Fresh fruit – apples, pears, or sliced pineapple holds up well
  • Nut butter – such as Justin’s, NuttZo, RX Nut Butter, or Wild Friends individual squeeze packs are TSA-compliant (usually about 1.1 ounces) and make it easy to snack

Flying for over five hours? Pack a more substantial meal, so you don’t have to rely on the highly processed airport or airline foods.

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Meals You Can Bring Through Airport Security 

  • Grain-based salads – these hold up well and can be eaten at room temperature. Choose a grain such as quinoa, faro, barley or brown rice and try one of these variations:
    • Farro with white beans, roasted broccoli, diced tomato, olive oil and balsamic
    • Quinoa with shredded carrots, bell peppers, chickpeas and avocado.
    • Brown rice with cucumbers, pineapple and dried cranberries tossed with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette
  • Leafy green salads – these hold up well for a few hours. Pack full of your favorite veggies and fruit, plus a protein source: turkey, black beans, chicken or tuna. Dress the salad before you leave home, or grab a small packet of dressing and stick it in your liquids bag.
  • Lentil or bean salads – lentils and beans hold up well and can be eaten cold or room temperature. Toss with veggies, and an olive-oil based vinaigrette for a high protein and fiber meal.
  • Sandwiches – choose whole grain bread or pitas, and pair with your favorite sandwich meats or grilled chicken, along with hearty veggies like cucumbers and onion that won’t get soggy.
  • Oatmeal packets – quick-cooking oatmeal packets or oatmeal cups are great for airplane travel. Simply ask for hot water when the beverage cart comes around, stir in your oats, and voila! Choose plain oatmeal, and bring along a handful of nuts, dried fruit, and chia or hemp seeds – these will add some fat and protein to keep you full.

For safety purposes, perishable foods such as meat, poultry, and cheese shouldn’t be out at room temperature for more than a few hours. As long as you plan on eating at the airport, or soon after boarding the plane, this won’t be a problem. For longer flights, consider packing a small cooler (ice packs are allowed to go through security if they’re completely frozen).

Some of my key go-to traveling essentials that are great for storing food and such:

  • Stasher bags: These reusable bags that are great for storing fruit, veggies, nuts/seeds, cookies, and even salads.  They’re great for traveling and make it so easy to pack food.
  • Reusable water bottle: So important to stay hydrated when traveling – fill up your water bottle at a water filter station inside the airport after TSA!
  • Reusable utensils: This bamboo utensil set is great for on the go and eliminates the worry of having to try to find utensils when traveling.

And here are a few travel items that are not food-related – but they’re definitely worth bringing along on your trip to make your traveling experience more comfortable!

  • Disinfecting wipes: I always give my tray table a wipe down before using it, with wipes such as these Flight Wipes, Clorox travel size wipes, or SONO.
  • Ear plugs/headphones: This one is pretty much a necessity for traveling. These headphones are a great noise canceling headset that won’t pack on the pounds in your carry-on because they’re lightweight.
  • Compression socks: I always have a pair on hand for longer flights to increase blood flow, I like these from Laite Hebe.
  • Eye mask: sleep better without the cabin lights (or the light from your seatmate reading at 2am) – you can try Alaska Bear or Jersey Slumber.
  • Scarf (one big enough to be a blanket!): We have all dealt with close to Arctic temperatures in flights, I now always bring a big scarf with me like this one that I can use as a wrap/blanket.
  • Moisturizer: I don’t know about you but traveling often times leaves my skin feeling dry. Fill up your favorite moisturizer in these TSA approved silicone jars.

Airport travel can be hectic, but with a little advanced planning, you can travel prepared with healthy snacks and meals to make your flight a little bit smoother. For more travel reading, check out 9 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling

 

Do you have any favorite travel snacks? Share them with me below!

62 Comments

  1. Beth on July 14, 2016 at 9:06 am

    I did not know this! Great advice as always.

    • Jenny Rabun on December 4, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      can you bring shelled pecans

  2. Becky on April 5, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    We are traveling to Rio on Friday and have a 9 hour flight. I just purchased some salmon and tuna packets, wheat crackers, alomonds, whole fruit, carrot sticks, and a few dark chocolate pretzels! Being stuck on an airplane for 9 hours with only airplane food makes me nervous- #rdproblems
    Thanks for this post, I might have to bring more snacks!

    • Alissa Rumsey on April 5, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      I love all of those food ideas, great planning ahead! 9 hours can be long, especially if it is during the day – as that is basically 2-3 meals – so you may need a bit more 🙂 Have a fantastic time, I went to Rio last year and absolutely loved it! Check out my Rio travel guide: https://alissarumsey.com/travel/rio-de-janeiro-travel-guide/

      • Jenny Rabun on December 4, 2019 at 6:14 pm

        can you carry pecans fro. Miami international to London England

  3. Bella on April 12, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Thank you! Super helpful!

    • Alissa Rumsey on April 13, 2017 at 1:23 am

      You are very welcome, glad you found it helpful!

  4. dee on May 14, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Hi, can I just bring oatmeal in a zip lock baggie.?

    • Alissa Rumsey on May 14, 2017 at 7:40 pm

      Hi there, you certainly can! I’d just make sure it’s the quick-cooking oats, since the old-fashioned and steel-cut won’t get cooked enough just with the boiling water.

  5. Brooke on May 18, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Hi! Do you know if I can bring things like chia/hemp/flax seeds on an international flight (checked or carry on baggage)? What about powders like maca, protein, superfood greens?

    • Alissa Rumsey on May 18, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Brooke – I’ve brought seeds on international flights before and haven’t had an issue, but it’s a good idea to check the country’s customs to see what you are allowed to bring. Some don’t allow certain foods to come across borders, but often they aren’t super strict with this.

      • Pam on March 25, 2018 at 2:18 pm

        A box of Qia superfood has six packages! It is my go to airline well-being and I always have extras in my “jump bag”. Just get cup of hot water! Has a pumpkin seed and Coconut flavor!

    • Judy on March 14, 2019 at 10:52 am

      Are they allowed on carry on?

  6. Alicia on July 16, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I’d love to see you add a section for international flights. As I live in a more rural part of S.America, flights to the USA often require travel through multiple countries. I remember climbing off a flight from Ecuador in Miami and having both my salad and fresh fruit taken. They also don’t allow a variety of cheeses, meats, nuts, or eggs. Doesn’t leave a mom of 3 many options….
    I don’t mind eating junk once in a while, but often layovers are short, prices are expensive, and my kids suffer the impact of poor nutrition during long stretches of travel (along with fellow travelers as their mood and behavior is impacted as well).

    • Alissa Rumsey on July 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Thanks for the feedback Alicia, I’ll consider this for an upcoming post!

      • Lois on October 20, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        Did you do an international flight update yet?

      • Lois on October 20, 2017 at 12:23 pm

        Wondering about health food bars.. Juice PLUS or Isagenix?

        • Alissa Rumsey on October 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

          Hi Lois, you can definitely bring nutrition bars through security – any kind is fine to bring through.

  7. pamelia on November 7, 2017 at 6:56 am

    we wish to take packets of porridge oats in our luggage as we are in room only accommodation and my husband needs food early before we go out for the day we are going to Orlando would this be legal

    • Alissa Rumsey on November 7, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      Hi Pamelia, packets of dried oats are fine to pack in your luggage – it’s just liquids and gel-like foods that are an issue with the TSA. Have a great trip!

  8. Jamahil Ferguson on February 7, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Hey I’m just wondering if I can have salad with salad dressing on the salad already before I leave the house

    • Alissa Rumsey on February 7, 2018 at 11:54 am

      Hi Jamahil – yes this should be fine as long as the salad is absorbing the liquid. They just won’t let you through with any large liquid containers.

  9. Suzanne on February 24, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Has anyone gotten through (or tried) with COOKED, steel cut oats? It would be ideal for me to pack up my hot cooked oats (with a little chicken sausage) in a small container then enjoy on the other side of TSA. I usually fly out pretty early, and the main concern is getting through Security first, then breakfast!

    • Alissa Rumsey on March 12, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      Hi Suzanne! I’ve brought cooked oats before as well as overnight oats and haven’t had a problem, so you would likely be ok doing this 🙂

  10. Laura on March 12, 2018 at 6:47 am

    What about whole lemons?

    • Alissa Rumsey on March 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      For domestic travel this would be fine; some countries don’t allow you to bring fresh fruits into the country itself.

  11. Jessie on March 19, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    What about a pound cake and some cooked meet, salted eggs, jambon and chese sause?

  12. anna on April 8, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Can I bring an already opened container of hummus?

    • Alissa Rumsey on April 16, 2018 at 9:24 am

      If it’s less than 3 ounces, then yes 🙂 More, then no – they’ll treat that similar to yogurt or peanut butter texture, which isn’t allowed.

  13. Marcia Dottavio on April 28, 2018 at 12:03 am

    can u bring boxes of raisins on an international flight?

  14. Tara Stefanoff on June 18, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Can I bring roasted pumpkin seeds? Do you know?

    • Alissa Rumsey on June 19, 2018 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Tara, those shouldn’t be an issue!

  15. crina on July 13, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I read it and I decided that I’ll bring a Mexicali Salad from Trader Joe’s for my flight. I am flying Norwegian and they charge even for water; during my last flight with them I purchased a meal on the plane and it was the worst combo of expensive and terrible.

    • Alissa Rumsey on July 26, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      Yes it’s so worth it to bring your own food – way cheaper and better tasting 🙂

  16. Nina on July 18, 2018 at 3:35 am

    Rice and chicken in to-go boxes? Lol

    • Alissa Rumsey on July 26, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      Hey Nina, yup – those should be good 🙂

  17. Debra on August 4, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Hi! Can I take some chicken salad that will be prepared in a chopper with some mayo as a snack?

    • Alissa Rumsey on August 10, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Yes that would be allowed through 🙂

    • Alissa Rumsey on October 17, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      Definitely!

  18. Nana on August 13, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Can I take burrito on international flight?.

    • Alissa Rumsey on August 13, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      Yup you can 🙂

    • Alissa Rumsey on October 17, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      Yes you can – the limits with international flights have to do with you bringing food into a country, but if you eat it on the plane that is fine 🙂

  19. Islandria on August 15, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Hi there can I take fried rice with mix meat or bulgur wheat?

    • Alissa Rumsey on October 17, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      Yes you can, that would be fine 🙂

  20. Lanche on October 8, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    Can I take packages of yellow dried peas .?

    • Alissa Rumsey on October 17, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      Yup you can 🙂

  21. Sian on November 21, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Are small packets of GF salad free dressings and gluten free wraps allowed?

    • Alissa Rumsey on November 22, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      As long as the salad dressing (a liquid) is less than 3oz in size, then yes! And yes to wraps too 🙂

  22. Pegg on January 2, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Hi , can you bring raw salmon and cooked package eel in luggage, my sister from other country wants me to bring sushi fish so she can make sushi

    • Alissa Rumsey on January 14, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Hi Pegg – it’s best to check the regulations for each country, as it differs what you are allowed to bring into a new country.

  23. An on January 18, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Can I bring a box of dipped strawberries?
    I was given. A box in New Jersey and will be traveling to Los Angeles, I would love to take them with me

    • Alissa Rumsey on March 13, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      Yes you can 🙂

  24. Susan on January 21, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    How about a seed mixture of chia, flax, sunflower and sesame.
    How should I package it for carry on?
    I’ll have about 2 cups.

  25. Dyan on March 26, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    Hi Alissa: Love your help with all this. I was wondering if you know if I could bring a 3.5oz Bumble Bee Tuna or Chicken Salad that’s combined with a few crackers? It’s in a little box and it’s called Snack On The Run and it’s found in the tuna section at the store? Or if I should call the airline to be sure? Every time I call any airline I seem to be on the phone forever, so thought I would ask you first.

    Thanks

    • Alissa Rumsey on May 21, 2019 at 5:33 pm

      I find that this depends on the TSA security at each airport – sometimes I’ve got something like this through, other times no. If you don’t mind having to throw it out if it’s a ‘no’, then may be worth it to try 🙂

  26. Kim Hudd on May 17, 2019 at 11:14 am

    We are making a short direct flight 1.5 hrs. I am hoping to take a bag of our homegrown lettuce with us in our carry on. Is that permissible?

    • Alissa Rumsey on May 21, 2019 at 5:33 pm

      Yup if it’s a domestic flight within the US this is no problem – these things with produce get trickier when it’s between countries, but only specific countries don’t allow you to bring produce into them.

  27. Ellen on July 3, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Can I bring a bring a quart container of beans or quinoa and rice? Also, a sealed box of Amy’s veggie burgers or do I need to remove them from the box?

    • Alissa Rumsey on July 22, 2019 at 11:58 am

      Yup both of those should be good to go, at least for domestic flights. For international, I always recommend checking rules of the country you are flying into.

  28. Cheryl on September 1, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Can I take a can of Underwood white meat chicken spread in my carry on luggage?

  29. MJ Piazza on April 2, 2021 at 5:47 pm

    Can I bring a container with 3 sushi “rolls?” The soy sauce will be in a separate container of less than 3 ounces. Perhaps I should take out the wasabi — or pre-mix it?

    • Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD on April 6, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      If it’s less than 3 ounces of liquid it should be fine; same for the wasabi as it’s not a liquid.

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Alissa Rumsey, RD.

Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS (pronouns she/her/hers) is a registered
dietitian, nutrition therapist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and the author of
Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace With Food and Transform Your Life. Alissa is
passionate about helping people reclaim the space to eat and live,
unapologetically.

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