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Food for an airplane?

Any ideas on good food to take on a morning flight? I'm thinking along the lines of an egg and cheese burrito, but don't think that will be good cold. I'm thinking of something beyond the obvious cheese & crackers, fruit or cereal. Or am I nuts and these are my only options? (Yes, I could take nuts).


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  1. Just got off a morning plane yesterday where I consumed yoghurt, apple, date square. In other words, things I could buy at Starbucks that were morning-ish and not too messy.

    But next week, my daugher (who must remain Gluten Free and has a corn allergy, too) and I are heading off on a long, long flight. I am wrestling with what to take that is a) permitted both by the airlines and my child's dietary needs, b) delicious, c) not too smelly, bulky or messy.

    Any ideas to trade?

    4 Replies
    1. re: LJS

      are you permitted to have a thermos or two? say with oatmeal (gluten free), or soup or the like?
      you could do your own healthy version of a lunchable, with gluten free crackers, cheese, meat, etc.

      1. re: Emme

        a thermos with more than three ounces of liquid would not be permitted as carry on, per TSA regulations.

        I am not even sure about yoghurt: wouldn't surprise me if LJS bought that at the Starbucks after he or she passed through security. I doubt if it would make it through most TSAs. I've even had apples confiscated once. (as a liquid, go figure). Over-zealous or inattentive (depending on your point of view) TSA officials are everywhere, so it may be luck of the draw.

        For LJS: since it is a long, long flight, you are probably crossing several time zones. Everything I've ever read about avoiding jet lag recommends getting on the new time zone you are going to ASAP. Thus, it may help you plan the meal by thinking about whatever meal it would be where you are going, and not concentrating on breakfast. Certainly cheese and coldcuts would work. Yoghurt would too, actually, though again, I'd buy it AFTER going through security if it is more than three ounces.

        1. re: susancinsf

          We had yoghurt confiscated - we were told that 3 oz. was allowed, but not the 4 oz. container we had with us.

      2. re: LJS

        This response may be late, but my husband also has to eat gluten free and travels quite a bit. He has a lot of trouble finding good options that he's allowed to bring on the plane. He's had cottage cheese and yogurt confiscated. He often brings gf cereal in a bowl and buys a small carton of milk once he's through security. He also brings trail mix, gf crackers, think thin bars. He has recently started bringing an Udi's bagel (doesn't need to be toasted!) and buys cream cheese once he's through security. Good luck!

      3. If you're not opposed to "lunch" food at breakfast, a plain old deli meat and cheese sandwich works. I also love cold pizza for breakfast and find it ultra portable. If I'm trying to avoid carbs (i.e, good for gluten free), I will often take bell pepper slices wrapped in prosciutto and/or thinly sliced cheese, or even fill a bell pepper half with hummus or cheese spread and then wrap in prosciutto to keep the contents intact. Deli meat spread with cream cheese and rolled up is good too.

        1. PB & J on a waffle?
          oatmeal cakes with jam or syrup?
          something in a thermos, like soup?
          parfait of yogurt,fruit, granola, assembled on the plane?
          rice and beans with some cheese?
          leftover lo mein :) or pizza

          1. Do flights allow cold packs? If so, possibilities are endless.
            String cheese, wrapped in sliced turkey
            Pickles, wrapped in sliced ham
            Wraps (corn for your daughter) of cream cheese, pesto, and cold cuts, rolled and sliced, or refried beans, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, crema and salsa stuffed into a bocadillo roll (or any soft large roll with a mid-tender crust; must be able to hold up.) Ditto chicken salad; you probably want to avoid tuna or egg salads, although one thing that contains egg just might work, a pan bagnat: oil packed imported tuna, tomato, nicoise olives, sliced egg, drizzled w/ olive oil, wrapped and pressed, or sliced egg w/ crispy bacon and tomato. (I think the obnoxiousness factor is quelled by the fact that the eggs are sliced, not beaten or chopped. You could take cut-up fruit and a bagel with a schmear, or a peanut butter/banana/raisin spread on gluten-free bread. Cottage cheese, or yogurt; regular cheese cubes and nuts (!), or sliced rare leftover steak on french bread toast; my favorite. I realize these are all completely unorthodox ideas, but I'm huge on any kind of food at any time of day, not just traditional brekkie foods.

            7 Replies
            1. re: mamachef

              So much this! on the "any kind of food at any kind of day" thing. Cold packs aren't allowed on U.S. flights.

              The last long flight I took (Richmond VA to San Francisco) I brought along cold roasted boneless chicken thighs, string cheese and homemade coleslaw. I got it all through security and it was delicious. :D

              1. re: MandalayVA

                i wonder if you could pack a bag or two of frozen berries as your "cold pack." by the time you're on the plane, they've kept food cold and mid-flight might be edible :)

                  1. re: mamachef

                    I am not sure it is that brilliant. Likely to be considered a liquid by TSA.

                1. re: MandalayVA

                  Not sure what you mean, "so much this! any kind of food at any time of day" thing. Did I say something wrong?

                2. Please no eggs out of consideration for your fellow passengers. They are one of those strong smelling foods that tend to smell really bad to everyone else, especially when they've been wrapped up for an hour or so.

                  Once you eliminate foods that could be considered a liquid or gel, you're pretty much left with cheese, crackers, fruit and nuts. You could do a bagel with sliced meat and/or cheese. Or fruit/vegetable with your favorite dip or spread in a 3oz container.

                  1. I travel often for work and a PB&J on wheat bread is a standard item I eat on the plane mornings or evenings. I always have a bag of trail mix or a granola bar or two stashed away just in case of the "rare" (HA!) event that I get delayed or stranded without access to a meal.

                    1. What about bagels or soft pretzels? They are filling and non-messy.

                      1. When we left San Diego this weekend, we had to have one more burrito, so we picked up a breakfast burrito as big as your forearm and shared it. From Kotija in Leucadia if anyone wants to know, it was a real surfer dude type of meal. The meat was ham or chorizo, so I wasn't worried about keeping it cold, and there were some kind of potatoes in there too. It was a couple of hours old and room temp, and still one of the best things we ever tasted, we kept saying as we consumed it.

                        1. Shortly after 9/11, I went on a plane flight and had all my food confiscated, being told that it wasn't allowed. I'm really surprised because I thought that that was still the case, but obviously, not, based on the comments. I thought that nowadays I was limited to buying something at an airport restaurant after passing through security. But it appears that people can get through security with sandwiches, etc. with no problem.

                          Thank you all so much. This will improve my flights considerably. Now, if I could just get them to give me more leg room . . .

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: gfr1111

                            In general you can bring food through security. The liquid/gel policy does limit some things, and the TSA definition of what is "liquid" is a moving target (i.e. sometimes peanut butter is OK, sometimes it isn't). I routinely bring apples and granola bars through with no problem.

                            I think you may have encountered an overzealous TSA staffer. To my knowledge food was never outright banned, and the liquids ban has only been around since 2006.

                            1. re: mpjmph

                              And sometimes a liquid can turn into a solid. I tried bringing a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and half a loaf of bread from Big Island to Maui. They said that I could make pb&j sandwiches and bring them aboard, but I couldn't bring the individual jars aboard because they were liquids.

                              I thought I read somewhere that flights can request no peanuts if a passenger on the flight has an allergy.

                              1. re: viperlush

                                I was so excited they were giving out peanuts on our recent flight, and when I asked on the next leg if they also had them, they gave me 5 or 6 bags. That was enough to get me all the way cross country. I thought they had been banned forever.

                                1. re: coll

                                  SW definitely has the peanuts still. On my last flight from New Orleans they gave an entire bag of little bags away to the person who guessed a riddle right. I came close, but not close enough. (I had the right idea, just got the exact answer wrong...). btw, on the same flight they played a type of seat roulette: everyone who wanted to put in a dollar bill with their seat number on it...the winner got all the dough. yes, of course the flight was going to Vegas!

                                  1. re: janetofreno

                                    I love Southwest, our steward sang the funniest Broadway type song as we landed, and told hysterical jokes all the way there. And are very generous with the peanuts.

                            2. re: gfr1111

                              I was also under the impression that the probability of homemade food items making it through security was slim. Can someone clarify what rules apply to bringing your own food on flights? For example, are fresh fruits allowed (in particular, on international flights)?

                              1. re: chinchi

                                I brought apples and cookies on the way there (NY to California) and lemons and figs on the way back. Also brought out the obligatory knishes and bagels with assorted cream cheeses. We just transported them though, our airline had snacks which was all we really needed. We did eat that delicious breakfast burrito on the way back though; everyone I talked to beforehand said you can bring any food you want. Only thing you can't bring is drinks, or gel packs, as far as I know. I sure did miss smuggling my little vodka drink in a Poland Spring bottle for before the take off.......last time I flew was just after 9/11, so a learning curve for me too. They were much stricter but in a weird way back then, they seem to have it down to a science now. But don't know about other countries.

                                1. re: chinchi

                                  I have brought fresh fruit on international flights; I just made sure to eat it well before we landed, as most countries don't allow produce from outside their borders to be brought in by tourists.

                                  1. re: Blush

                                    That has been my experience as well - you can bring produce on the flight, but can't take through customs at your arrival. Processed/prepared foods are generally OK, but it's always a good idea to check the regulations for the country you're visiting.

                                    I saw an episode of Dirty Jobs a couple of years ago where Mike Rowe learned to work the incinerator at an airport - his "mentor" for the day said all trash from international flights was incinerated, along with any foods confiscated in customs.

                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                      Don't bring fruits into Florida.

                                      I suppose Texas and California might have the same rule.

                                      1. re: GraydonCarter

                                        I thought the same with California, but apparently that has changed. I brought them in and out.

                              2. I think it depends on how long your flight is. For some people, flying becomes very uncomfortable as far as bloating and digestive discomfort. I know it does for me. I couldn't eat anything that is too high fiber or likely to cause me to experience tummy troubles. You don't want to go overboard with your picnic choices and then find that you need to run to the little tuna can bathroom a bunch of times throughout the flight. I know that flying early in the morning makes me kind of queasy. I don't do well when sleep has been disrupted! I'd go with something safe like a bagel and some cream cheese or maybe pack some dried fruit and yogurt. You don't want to get too theatrical with your on-board bounty because it could make you sick. You never know how your body is going to react to the change in altitude, etc.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: adamsrib

                                  Adamsrib brings up a good point and reminds me of something I learned years ago from a flight attendant (in fact, so long ago she was an 'air stewardess'[).

                                  She claimed that it is very unwise to drink ANY kind of of cabonated beverages during a flight because the air bubbles can make tummies upset in a way that does not happen at earthly altitudes. I believed her and ever after avoided these and eliminated that bloaty feel that I used to think was just a normal part of flying.

                                  So many great ideas here; GF daughter and I will be happy with our cream cheese and date snacks, our (lightly) curried turkey, carrot, raisin salad and that ever-popular Starbucks yoghurt for dessert padded out with apples for between meals (we are travelling on points from Halifax Nova Scotia to Kelowna, BC-2 stops, 12 hours and never long enough between flights to actually grab a real meal).

                                  1. re: LJS

                                    If you want a cold beverage without carbonation, ask for hot tea (with two bags of tea) and a glass of ice...that canned iced tea has some sort of weird aftertaste...

                                2. I usually just take a sandwich...going along with the "its lunch time where I'll be going" theory (since I'm usually flying east when I take food...when I return home east to west its usually in the evening, and I've already eaten... If you must have a breakfast item, how about oatmeal cookies? close enough....

                                  That and some fruit works fine....then add orange juice and coffee from the airline.

                                  BTW, on our recent short trip to New Orleans we also took an empty canteen, which we filled as soon as we passed security. Its always a good idea to have plenty of water.

                                  1. What about a slice or two of quiche? Good room temp, will hold its shape after being shaken around in your bag, kinda breakfast-y and kinda lunch-y.

                                    1. When we fly, we always stop at the local gourmet store/deli and grab a couple sandwiches the night before. They're a tad pricey, so it's sort of a "treat" to make the flight a little easier to deal with. More importantly, though, their non-salad-based sandwiches are all made dry, so we can throw a few condiment packets in the bag and not have to worry about things going bad if we're running really late or if it gets really hot.

                                      I've also brought cheese and crackers from the aforementioned deli, but I'm not sure it was such a great idea because some of the cheeses were rather pungent. It was also pretty messy, and the crumbs got everywhere.