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Ideas for Great Food for Plane Trips

I'm looking for idea for great food to take on plane trips. Not just cheese and crackers, but something special, something that I will look forward to eating on the plane, something that will make passengers in adjacent seats wonder why they didn't think of making something as good as I am did, something that will help turn my plane trip into a semi-dining experience. Also, it will need to transport and need limited coolness. Nothing that would get too soggy. I could either wrap it up in foil or even take it in disposable plastic container. Any ideas?

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  1. For picnics and easy travel, I'll make bread dough. Roll it to a long rectangle. Add layers of whatever I want (cheese, ham, turkey, slice hard boiled eggs, tuna, smoked salmon, cream cheese, olives, capers, tomatoes...not all together, though) down the center. Cut the ends on a diagonal and fold in, "braiding" the dough. Bake and let cool. It's so easy and doesn't make a mess. Fresh baked bread always tastes great.

    5 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Sounds great, just wanted to jump up and do it...but exactly how do you fold/braid the dough?

      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        This is much easier than my trying to describe it:


        I add the filling before cutting and use a pair of kitchen scissors. The only limit is your imagination, though I have gotten carried away and had too much filling. It still works--the filling just shows.

        1. re: chowser

          Thank you. We could have had a good laugh if I'd gone ahead with what I thought of based on your first description. Giving the braiding a try this afternoon.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Yeah, in 7th grade, we had to write a description on how to make a pb & J sandwich and the teacher followed our directions exactly. The sandwich he made, following my directions, was not pretty. But, hey, I can cue an advanced step class w/ complicated choreography at the drop of a hat!:-)

      2. re: chowser

        That is a great idea! I've also seen this done with puff pastry and a scrambled egg filling for a breakfast streusel. I will have to use your idea next time I have to fly coach.

      3. I think that sandwiches are excellent airplane food, for much like their utility in picnics, there's (generally) little mess, no need for utensils, and no need for special traveling containers.

        Usually, I don't have enough time to make sandwiches, always ending up running out at the last minute to my favorite nearby shops.. but in my experience, the best sandwiches for traveling are paninis, or any pressed sandwich. Due to the pressing, they're compact and tidy. Depending on your ingredients, the paninis won't necessarily need to be kept in a fridge for fear of spoilage (not to mention, the recent flights I took were so cold that it was virtually like being in a refrigerator).

        I always include a few treats that I normally wouldn't spoil myself with in order to make the traveling ordeal more enjoyable, and something to look forward to. A bit of nice chocolate, chips, etc...

        1. I would suggest cured meats like salumi & proscuitto (they don't require refridgeration), and you can either butter up a crusty demi baquette and build a sandwich or eat them like charcuterie w/ some sliced hard cheeses and some olives, grapes, dried figs, etc. All of this could fit into a small bag/tote and order up a glass of red wine and honey, your neighbors will be completely jealous.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lynnlato

            I love bringing a hot sopressata and provolone sandwich on ciabatta with olive oil and arugula and sometimes roasted peppers.

          2. Not sure where you are located, but if you have any Vietnamese restaurants in the area that sell Bahn Mi (sandwiches), they work out great. This is what I usually take on the plane with me. An assortment of meats and pate (you have your choice of many different combos) with pickled carrots and jicama with jalapenos, cilantro and mayo or butter (depends on the restaurant). All this served on delicious french bread. They stay together really well and don't stink so people next to you will not complain! I will be getting some for my plane ride to Chicago on 10/30!!

            1. As an avid reader of the Fodor's web site, this topic also came up recently (was it you winter?) Whatever you decide to do (sandwich would be my choice), please be considerate of the passengers around you and don't bring anything that smells profusely, has lots of onion & garlic or chilies. In today's skies, many planes are delayed and there is nothing worse than being stuck next to someone who reeks for an extended period of time. Thanks!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                Great reminder! Thanks! Once on a bus I sat behind people who had hard-boiled eggs which smelled like rotten eggs while they were eating it.

              2. I have a tendency to bring pasta with tomato sauce (no meat) -- tastes fine at room temperature. You could look into other types of pasta salads. Green beans and brocolli are great cold with some sort of dressing.

                I also like hearty type of baked goods. I have sent my guests back home with pieces of banana bread and had it eyed wistfully by their seat-mates (well, technically, I guess they're not seat mates, but it sure feels like it, doesn't it?). Banana bread with cream cheese, anyone? Morning glory or bran type muffins?

                Fruit travels fairly well and provides something fresh in the otherwise tired, weary, sort of day. Avoid bananas, though, and bring a bag for disposal of the core of apples!

                There was a very amusing article in the NY Times a few years back about a man who traveled with snacks on a plain. I think he brought a roast turkey? I can't remember but it was funny.

                And honestly, just about ANYTHING on an airplane will make your neighbors sigh, wishing they'd brought snacks.

                1. My favorite thing to take on a plane is Zanax. It allows me to cope with the screaming kids in row 12, and ALL the other passengers wonder why they didn't think to bring any.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ironmanps

                    Brilliant! And quite tasty given those extreme factors. Of course a consuming a couple glasses of wine is much more fun (and tastes better) than popping a pill. :-)

                  2. Go to the library and check out Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser, food writer for the NYTimes. She details her plane food and it's impressive!

                    1. I sometimes poach a chicken breast and then add a topping (chopped tomatoes, fresh basil slices; or maybe some sort of asian inspired sauce). Non-mayo potato or cucumber salads are also great. Also agree that a nice sandwich works well. And definitely take along some grapes or apple/pear slices and a good cheese. I once had such a nice picnic for us that the flight attendant ran up to the front to get us a nicer wine, and brought us port for our cheese course!