Don't buy airport food anymore

Eat Healthy on Your Flight Without Buying Airport Food

It’s never been easy eating healthy with unexpected flight delays and sitting on the plane for hours at a time. But now, with a few minutes of planning, you can eat healthy on your flight without buying airport food.Travel is a big part of an ageless lifestyle after 50, so the tips here are great to keep handy when you’re getting ready for the airport.

After just returning from  3 nightmare days at O’Hare airport in Chicago, I can tell you from first hand experience, unexpected meals at the airport can be very tricky! Everything started off great on my quick 3 day trip to surprise my dad for his 80th birthday. I had a nice crunchy salad in the Cabo airport before departing, know that 4 hours later I’d have a chance to grab something healthy in the airport before making a short connecting flight.

You know what they say about the best laid plans…

Bad weather in Chicago had grounded flights. The wait for customer service was well over 2 hours long. Luckily I got clued in about buses that went to all the states around Illinois, so I went off to grab a bus. Sadly that meant standing in line for 3 more hours before boarding for a 3 hour bus ride, followed by a half hour car ride.

When this happens, what can you do?

I ran back into the closest part of the airport to grab something at the little kiosk and get back in line for the first available bus. The choices were terrible and the best I could find was fruit on the bottom Greek yogurt. It tasted like chemicals and I held my breath to eat it. No wonder people hate yogurt if this is what they’ve tasted!

But it doesn’t have to be that way. From now on you and I both will be prepared for anything that delays us so we won’t run out of healthy food!

Here’s some great tips from the Food Babe. And you can get her ginger tea recipe here.

Bring food with you to the airport & on airplanes!

I’m happy to say that I haven’t had to eat airport and airplane food in a long time. Airplane food is often heavily processed with tons of controversial additives and preservatives that don’t fit into my healthy lifestyle. On my last flight, I posted some pictures of what I was eating and drinking on my Facebook page, and got a lot of questions. Many of you are wondering how I was able to bring my own food on board and wanted details. It’s easy to do, but it does take a bit of prep time and you have to make sure that what you bring won’t get confiscated by the TSA at the security checkpoint.

TSA lets you bring food through security.

In the United States and in most countries, the transit authorities allows you to bring food through the security screening and onboard. Here are some items that work well and don’t get confiscated:

  • Homemade sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper stored in a quart-sized plastic bag. Keep in mind that all food that you carry on will need to go through the x-ray machine at the checkpoint. So, never use any foil. They will want to search your bag and delay your travels.
  • Dips and sauces, such as hummus, salsa and almond butter, as long as it is in a 3.4 oz (or smaller) container, and put into a quart-sized plastic bag.
  • Fresh fruits and veggies, such as apples, bananas and avocados. Just wash them at home or in your hotel room before you put them in your bag. If you cut or peel them ahead of time, of course they need to be wrapped in a plastic bag or put in a glass container. Keep in mind that you can also bring a butter knife to slice ripe avocados and bananas on the plane.
  • Crunchy snacks such as crackers, popcorn, kale chips, etc.
  • Dried fruit and raw nuts make a great snack on the plane. I like to make my own mix – 1/2 cup each of raw almonds, coconut flakes, dried cherries or raisins, and raw walnuts. The airport usually has trail mix, but it comes loaded with inflammatory oils, other additives and are usually not raw or organic.
  • Pre-made salads in glass containers or BPA-free plastic. Salad dressing can be packed separately as long as it’s in a 3.4 oz. or smaller container. However, I find that it’s easier to bring it already mixed into a salad or at the bottom of the bowl for mixing in later. (Just don’t forget to bring a fork!)
  • Empty thermos and empty water bottles – any size. These are great for filling up after you get through security.
  • Tea bags for making hot tea in the airport before you board. Don’t use the hot water on the airplane. It’s not as clean as you would like, try to get it from a cafe in the airport before boarding.
  • If you are traveling with your child: baby food, breast milk and formula are exempt from the 3.4 oz. rule and you can bring those on the plane in any quantity needed.
  • Green juice in mini ball jar containers packed in a cooler to stay fresh.
  • In addition to this list – Check out this app on the TSA website to search for what items may (or may not be) currently allowed in your carry-on.


Tips for packing your carry-on bag:

  • Most people don’t think about this, but you can pack a cooler as one of your carry-on bags. There are some great travel coolers available, and even some that are on wheels that easily go through security for long flights or if you are traveling with family. Just make sure that it meets the size requirements for the airline that you are flying on. These are two of my favorites:
        1. eBags Crew Cooler – Designed to fit over your carry on luggage as your second bag and comes in many different colors. Perfect for in-flight food. Available on Amazon for ~$49 here.
        2. Coleman Wheeled Travel Cooler – This cooler has a hard plastic liner, which is good for either taking as your carry-on bag or checking in with your luggage at the airport. Available on Amazon for ~$41.23 here.
  • I drink a lot of water, especially when traveling. Try packing a large empty water bottle and fill it up after going through security. Make sure you fill it up before you get on the plane, because I’ve found that some airlines won’t do it for you.
  • Pack an extra empty plastic bag and fill it with ice from a restaurant after you get through security to keep your cooler cold. I’ve never had a problem asking for free ice, they will gladly provide it. Some airports have food courts, where you can just help yourself too.
  • I personally haven’t had any trouble bringing in frozen gel ice packs, so you can try it – but there is a possibility that they would be confiscated. So, an extra bag for ice is a good back up plan.
  • For longer flights, pack some frozen food in your cooler. If you pack some frozen berries or yogurt in small containers, it will help to keep your cooler cool and slowly defrost during your flight.
  • If you find yourself in a bind or didn’t have time to pack food, don’t worry. There is fresh food available if you look for it. Many airports have a Jamba Juice, where you can pick up wheatgrass shots and some juice bars even offer fresh squeezed green juice or cold pressed juice in bottles (Yeah! San Fran airport!). You can always find fresh fruits (bananas, apples) and raw unsalted almonds in a store or restaurant at the airport. Check out this “Farmers Market” stand with plenty of real food options I found in terminal E of the Charlotte Airport:


  • I have an extensive list here of easy to pack snack foods that you can easily toss in your bag and take through security.
  • If you are traveling internationally, only bring enough food for your flight in your carry-on because you will likely need to throw away any leftover food when you arrive at customs in your destination country.  Before you leave, review the customs restrictions for your destination, to see what you may be able to bring into the country you are visiting.
  • I like to fill my thermos with about 3 inches of sliced raw ginger before packing it in my carry-on bag. After you go through security, fill it up with hot water from a restaurant and you’ve got hot ginger tea for your flight! Ginger tea improves circulation, reduces inflammation, and is antibacterial – everything you need on a flight. I’ve been using the Think Sport insulated bottles – which come in two sizes for my tea. They are available here with 10% off affiliate code: FOODBABE10 if you’d like to get one!

So there you have it. Lot’s of great tips for eating healthy on your flights! Thanks to the Food Babe for the tips.

Don't buy airport food anymore

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