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:
- 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.