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Portable food ideas for air travel?

  • r

Next weekend the husband and I are flying from SF to Florida. I hate paying money for gross airport food so I am trying to think up good things I can make/bring.

In the past I have made banana bread, peanut butter sandwiches and a cooked frozen pizza (wrapped in tinfoil).

Our flight is at 9am so I don't I want to eat a pizza that early.

Anyone have any good ideas? Drawing a blank on sandwich ideas. Could do a wrap.

I was thinking of muffins or maybe another sweet bread (not pound cake or banana, made them recently). cookies, though they might get crushed in my carry on.

We are vegetarian but eat eggs/fish.


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  1. A breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, spicy beans and cheese? Or you could make some of your best egg salad and put it in a container. Then slice some crusty rolls butter them and put in a zip bag. Tote along a plastic fork and make egg salad sandwiches on the spot instead of preassembling to avoid the soggy sandwich bit.

    Granola, make your own, it is quite portable in zip bags.

    Bake up some scones or muffins the night before.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      wow, these ideas are great! How could I not of thought of fruit salad? I love the fritatta idea. I even forgot about bagels, which I eat nearly every day.

      This is why I wanted to post this topic, because I knew I wouldn't think of the obvious.

      Thanks from saving me from yet another peanut butter sandwich, keep the ideas coming!

      1. re: Candy

        Maybe it's just me, but if the person I was seated to on a plane whipped out a container of egg salad, I'd get really queasy from the sulphur like smell.

        1. re: boogiebaby

          I agree; I'd shy away from anything that could smell too pungent.

          Ziplocs of granola, or take granola bars. Dried fruits and nuts. Cut up carrots and bell peppers.

          And a peanut butter sandwich for old time's sake.

          1. re: mailsf

            You might be advised to skip anything with peanuts as some people have severe allergic reactions even if they aren't injesting them.

          2. re: boogiebaby

            I have taken plain old hard boiled eggs onto planes, and not had any smell issues. They're tasty and filling. Perhaps you could incorporate them into a sandwich...

        2. That time of day - I'll usually just make up sandwiches with fresh bagels, cream cheese, some good smoked salmon, red onions, capers, etc. It keeps well for a few hours and is very hearty and satisfying (and goes well with that first bloody mary)!

          1. I would make whatever you would orddr to go for breakfast: breakfast sandwich with cheese, french toast, egg, potato, beans and/or cheese burrito, fruit, nuts

            1. I've been a travel agent the past 26 years and I advise my clients to pack finger foods.....dried fruit (i.e. raisins, apricots, cranraisins, etc.); high-protein, non-sugared nuts; cheeses; crackers; and for meat-eaters, jerky and meat sticks. Trail mix also is great for a pick-me-up. I make my own as it's much cheaper to do so. I buy raisins, cranraisins, mixed nuts or dry-roasted peanuts, M&Ms, coconut and dehydrated fruits like apples and banana chips, mix them all together in a large bowl, put them in freezer zip-lock bags and pop them in the freezer. I pull them out when needed. The practice of serving peanuts on flights originated in 1926, according to an article I read in a trade journal. Today, you're lucky to get pretzels, as nuts are too expensive. United is beginning to charge extra for exit-row seating. This industry just isn't the same anymore.......*heavy sigh*.

              1. How about a fruit salad in a little tupperware container or finger fruits.....strawberries and grapes? They would hydrate you well on your flight!

                Bon voyage!!!!

                1. Two thoughts...
                  Fritattas are great at room temperature, and would be good for the brunch-timing of your flight. Since they are dense with protein they travel really well. Take some fruit salad in a tupperware for the side.
                  You could also do a pressed sandwich. Scoop out the inside of the bread, fill with assorted cheeses, roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts,arufula,chopped olives, pesto and or vinaigrette dressing. Wrap tightly and place a heavy pan and some cans on top for twelve hours or so...you could do it the night before.
                  It's very portable and easy to eat since it is nicely compacted and therefore stays together well.

                  1. What are you talking about - 9 a.m. is the best time to eat pizza! ;-)

                    But if you want to be traditional about it... You could make waffle-wiches - basically, toasted waffles sandwiched with whatever filling you want, though I recommend the PB-chopped peaches, cream cheese-strawberries or melted cheddar-apple slices combos.

                    Or you can bring yogurt containers and baggies of granola/trail mix. Don't forget spoons.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: piccola

                      yogurt will get confiscated out of SF, they're the one of the tightest of security

                    2. This won't help a vegetarian but may help someone else. My standard for a long trip (like to Europe) is, two nights before we travel I have roast beef and mashed potatoes for dinner, and make extra. After dinner I freeze enough of each so that our first night home we will have a nice hot home-cooked meal. The rest of the roast beef I chop coarsely in the Cuisinart, bind with ketchup, and season to taste. The night before we are to fly I make substantial sandwiches of this and refrigerate overnight. When we set out I carry them in my handbag next to a chemical ice. Being sort of pre-chewed these Airport Sandwiches are easy and quick to eat, and being meat they stay with you on the long flight.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: N Tocus

                        Can you still get that chemical ice on the plane? I'm thinking that qualifies as a gel or liquid even though its frozen.

                      2. Anything that doesn't smell, such as onions, smoked fish, etc. Be considerate of your fellow travelers who probably don't want to bask in the aromas of your breakfast.

                        1. if you get lazy or run out of time, the last time I was in the SF airport (fall 2004), the international section of the airport had some of the best airport food I've had - I particularly liked the sushi and the Italian pastries - both easy to take on the plane.

                          1. Thanks for posting this topic. We will be a party of 11 flying from Az to FL We will take off around 9 am, so I thought we'd pack lunch. Since you can't keep anything cold, due to the new restictions of fluid (frozen juice box, freezer pack/gel) I am not sure what to take. PBJ's for the 3 kids (picky eaters) I would like to do something differant for the adults. Something that wont spoil when packed at 6 am that will hold over till 11am. Any other ideas? I love the fruit salad idea since it can be kept out for awhile without spoiling. Do you think 5 hours is too long? Any other non mayo salad ideas?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Kari

                              5 hours is way too long. Most food that requires refrigeration can't be out for more than 2 hours---definately wouldn't risk it with the kids. You can always bring the fruits uncut.

                            2. How about a bagel, lox and cream cheese. Also wrap red onion and tomato separately and then assemble the bagel when you're ready to chow down on the plane.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sherryb

                                I thought about that, minus the lox since no one likes it. How about cured meats? Would they spoil after 5 hours? I was thinking of a Muffelatta (sp?) using an olive spread made the night before? Maybe using cured meat would work. Will cheese stay good after 5 hours?

                              2. My standard carry-on food for planes is a small package of cheese and crackers. I've flown coast-to-coast on just this. Some fruit is also nice. Yogurt is out, unless you get it in containers less than 3 ounces.

                                1. whatever you decide, remember your Tabasco!
                                  I always find myself wanting good savory food (rather than sweet food on the plane) and keep in mind you'll be on that plane until at least 1pm (your body's time) so you might actually be wanting some of that pizza later in the flight.

                                  A savoury bread like an olive loaf, a nice cheese or two and some grapes, figs and olives have kept us entertained on longer flights. Sometimes I even bring a salad, a lemon and a little bit of oil and whip up a dressing.

                                  1. A nice savory bread such as Cook's Illustrated's awesome cheese bread might be good. Also, how about some pita and hummus? That should hold up well with minimal care.

                                    1. Three suggestions:

                                      1. Rice balls wrapped in nori and with ume boshi (sour-salty plums) inside made the night before and not refrigerated. Accompanied by canned salmon, flaked, and with soy souce, lime juice, and a bit of chili powder to taste. Pack in disposable plastic ware along with napkins and chopsticks. I would add quick pickled cucumbers if you know how to do these. This result is a mini bento box.
                                      2. Your fave (cheese?) omelette done on the dry, not runny side, tighly wrapped in thin crepes and sliced into bite size pieces; fruit salad; again all packed in disposable containers along with plastic utensils and napkins.
                                      3. Carefully put together bean burritos (refried beans prepared on the dry side but with onion, tomato, chili, cilantro all included and then in tightly wrapped in pre-heated flour tortillas). Again, pack tightly in disposables, add napkins.

                                      These ideas do not require in-seat assembly that may not be entertaining to fellow passengers. Odors should be minimal. Bring all in a plastic bag; disposables will allow you to put all in the bag and hand the remains to a flight attendant. No need to be managing dirty Tupperware when you get to Florida.

                                      1. All these are great ideas, however the food would be wrapped/contained for 5 hours before we consumed them, so I worry about the saftey. We have 2 people over 60, 3 kids, and one immune system compromised. It's a real concern. I may stick to pbj's.