Snacks on a Plane

Make your own tasty fare, and the jet-setting days of old -- including the amazing in-flight food -- can be yours.


Now that we air travelers are limited to the barest necessities on planes, let's take control of the one element of pleasure still afforded to us in airline travel: food.

We're no longer compelled to eat airline food out of guilt -- the belt-tightening of the airlines has left us in charge of our food destinies. If your family is trapped on a flight for the holidays, what better way to spend time than kicking back (well, okay, shifting slightly) and enjoying some tasty, homemade food? It's possible, with a little foresight and planning.

These travel foods are all easy to get out of the way before the last-minute flurry of trip preparation, and they're relatively neat to eat in close quarters. I've given two main dishes here in case you have a really long flight and/or a large family that would like a bit of choice. Make as much or little as you need.

The only downside to traveling with your own food is the pitiful, longing stares you'll get from seat mates. Be strong!

Travel Menu

  • Trail Mix
  • Herb-Baked Olives
  • Fruit and Broccoli Salad
  • Cobb Salad Wrap
  • Roast Beef and Red Pepper Sandwiches
  • Crispy Teton Treats

Trail Mix

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Each handful of this sweet-and-salty combination of ranch-flavored crackers, shoestring potatoes, peanuts, and chocolate-covered raisins delivers crunch, but not a lot of crumbs.

View Trail Mix recipe

Herb-Baked Olives

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This little Mediterranean nibbler is practically gourmet. Storing it in an airtight container makes it perfect for in-flight munching.

View Herb-Baked Olives recipe

Fruit and Broccoli Salad

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One forkful of this fresh, nutritious salad and you'll never go back to stale airplane pretzels again. With only five ingredients, it's easy to mix up and take along with you.

View Fruit and Broccoli Salad recipe

Cobb Salad Wrap

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A homemade entree on a plane? Yes, it's possible with these flavorful chicken, tomato, and bacon wraps that will please passengers of all ages.

View Cobb Salad Wrap recipe

Roast Beef and Red Pepper Sandwiches

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Bite into a sophisticated sandwich during your next flight. Stuff Boboli or focaccia with roast beef, red peppers, and Monterey Jack cheese for an in-flight meal that's out of this world.

View Roast Beef and Red Pepper Sandwiches recipe

Crispy Teton Treats

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Dessert is a must no matter your elevation, and these crispy chocolate-covered treats are a no-mess, big-flavor choice.

View Crispy Teton Treats recipe

The Game Plan: Food Timeline

Up to one week ahead...

  • Prepare Herb-Baked Olives; refrigerate in travel container.

Up to 3 days ahead...

  • Prepare Teton Treats; wrap individually in plastic wrap.

Up to 2 days ahead...

  • Shop for wrap and sandwich ingredients including rotisserie chicken, deli roast beef, bottled dressing, cheeses, etc.

Up to 24 hours ahead...

  • Prepare Fruit and Broccoli Salad; refrigerate in travel container.

Up to 12 hours before...

  • Prepare Cobb Salad Wraps and Roast Beef and Red Pepper Sandwiches; wrap individually in plastic wrap.

Night before or up to 8 hours ahead...

  • Pack up soft-sided cooler with wraps, sandwiches, salad slaw, and olives.
  • Stow away Teton Treats and Trail Mix in carry-on bag.

Just before leaving the house...

  • Add freezer pack to cooler -- be sure to use the foam pack and not the gel pack!

Low-tech ways to amuse yourself and others while trapped on a plane for 5 hours

Books, magazines, puzzles, and pen and paper used to be the polite shields against unwanted contact while traveling. Add to the mix iPods, laptops, portable DVD players, or whatever latest gadget is the rage and it's clear that actual interaction is becoming a rarity. But, especially if traveling with family during the holidays, classic word and guessing games are still great ways to pass the time. Here's a list of my favorites:

  • Remember Hangman? It's still fun, after all these years.
  • Travel Scrabble® rules, as always. Cribbage, backgammon, chess, and checkers also come in convenient travel versions.
  • Card games should never be underestimated -- a deck of cards is great for anything from Go Fish to Hearts to Solitaire.
  • The old childhood favorite of 20 Questions has a grown-up version as well called Botticelli. Print out the description and rules at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botticelli_(game) And since we're talking about food, give the food version of the game, called Vermicelli, a try.
  • Kids still love I Spy and there are tons of related visual and object treasure hunt games out there on the Internet.

And don't forget those little things that make your life just a bit more comfortable on the road...

  • House shoes for the plane if your feet swell like mine (walking around helps)
  • A favorite pillow
  • Chewing gum to relieve ear pressure
  • Ear plugs if the engine noise gets to you
  • Lotion-style antibacterial soap if you don't want to trek back to the latrine to wash your hands

Crunchy PB and A Wrap

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Crunchy granola and crisp apples make this wrap a fave with adults and kids alike.

View Crunchy PB and A Wrap recipe

Country Ham Sandwiches

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It's all about the condiments: Prepared mango chutney and pesto and an herbed focaccia nudge this sandwich into the realm of gourmet fare.

View Country Ham Sandwiches recipe

Deli-Style Pasta Salad

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This yummy, filling salad only gets better as it absorbs the easily prepared vinaigrette.

View Deli-Style Pasta Salad recipe

Toffee Bars

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Pull these out on the plane and you might cause a riot -- delicious treats perched between a rich cookie and candy.

View Toffee Bars recipe

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