Plane Food

Veggie Travel Bento For OneAfter a whirlwind week of sightseeing, rambling, and pub-hopping around London, my dad returned to Chicago yesterday. But our parting did not bring sweet sorrow – I will see him again tomorrow back in his neck of the woods. In just a few hours I fly to Chicago for a very long and much anticipated visit with family and friends. I’ll be there for four weeks and am crossing my fingers for a white Christmas. After that, I’m going to L.A. to see my sis for the whole month of January. After a dark winter in London and a cold Christmas in Chicago, I’m sure I’ll be ready for the sun.

So basically, the next few weeks are going to be pretty crazy with lots of travel and very little routine. Ordinarily, this would have my stomach in knots – how will I get in my exercise? where will I get my bircher muesli fix? – but this time I’m too excited to worry. I’m trying to view it all as a fun challenge, a chance to try something new and be creative. I’m also looking forward to writing about it on SmarterFitter!

My first challenge is the plane ride. Call me crazy but I kind of like these long flights. It’s one of the rare times I actually feel like it’s okay to do nothing. I write letters, I read for pleasure, I brainstorm on all the little schemes I feel like I don’t have time for during the usual week… I also pack a lunch.

We all know airplane food is typically pretty bad, especially for veggies, so I always bring my own food on the plane. Some people pack their own sandwiches, though I tend to avoid this for fear of a soggy bread situation. I try to stick with simple, light foods that are easy on the ol’ digestive system:

  • Raw vegetables: carrots, celery, cucumber, baby tomatoes, jicama, bell pepper
  • Cooked vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans
  • Dips for veggies: hummus, avocado
  • Edamame
  • Yogurt
  • Fresh fruit: apples, bananas, clementines, grapes
  • Crusty bread, baguette, pita
  • Firm cheese
  • Bean salads
  • Dark chocolate
  • Raw nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Veggie sushi

I’m fairly pleased with this trip’s airplane bento (even if the scrambled tofu does look a little nasty).

Veggie Travel Bento For One

  • A slice of whole wheat no knead bread
  • Raw veggies: cucumber, carrot, broccoli, tomatoes, avocado
  • Scrambled tofu
  • Plain yogurt
  • Clementine oranges (for dipping into the yogurt!)

When I’m not eating, I’ll be drinking lots of water (and feeling very happy I chose an aisle seat).

What about you? Do you pack food for the plane? Any tips?

13 thoughts on “Plane Food

  1. Andrea

    I love long flights (and car rides) too for the exact same reason! I love the “extra time” they give me… 🙂 I always pack trail mix or mixed nuts, banana or apple, and a bar or two for flights, depending on the length. I love the veggie idea though, I’d feel much more wholesome with veggies… Have a great flight!

  2. Liz Turtle

    Your travel meal looks delicious and wholesome! I’m afraid I tend to fall into the “soggy sandwich” category of travel food . . . if I remember to pre-pack anything at all.

  3. BD

    I am not sure of the rules in the UK, but I believe the container of yogurt would have to be thrown away if you tried to take it onto a plane in the USA. If it is over 100 ml or 3.4 fl oz it would be confiscated by the folks at the security checkpoints. If you need to take a liquid food that is greater than 100 ml it needs to be as treatment for medical conditions (such as glucose packs for diabetes).

  4. Evita

    Hi Monica!

    Well first of all have a fantastic flight and trip. Can’t say I enjoy these long flights, I used to, well I shouldn’t say that. I still do but my favorite flights are up to 5 hours. After that I am itching to get off.

    Anyhow, you are so right about the plane food, it is not your typical wholesome and nutritious bunch, especially for veggies. So I have not yet gone through with the idea of packing the separate meal, last flight in the summer, we requested a veggie meal specifically and sucked it up, but it was not anything close to what I eat on a regular basis. Next flight I think we will definitely bring our own food – it just will feel so much better like that 🙂 We did pack lots of various nuts and healthy fruit and nut bars to snack on during the trip and I found that was a great idea too.

    So again all the best on your travels!!!

  5. Sagan

    ALWAYS pack food for the plane- I don’t eat plane food:)

    Fruit and veggies and sandwiches and bars (like a lunabar natural type thing) are all musts for my plane trips. PB and J sandwiches surprisingly don’t get all that soggy.

  6. Adam Steer, Better Is Better

    I used to pack food for the plane. But when I discovered the benefits of Intermittent Fasting I realized it was the perfect solution for traveling. First off, it’s a pain to lug all that food around. And then, it has been found recently that fasting while traveling can help make it easier to set your internal clock when you arrive at your destination.

    One of the best sources on the subject of IF, if you like to understand the science and research behind it, is Brad Pilon’s ebook. You can learn about him and his book at this Squidoo page:

    Brad’s focus is on using IF to lose fat. But there are also a whole host of health benefits associated with the practice.


  7. giz

    Wow, they let you carry all that on? I don’t fly very often, but I haven’t packed more than a protein bar or two figuring they wouldn’t allow it on – I know you can’t carry water. What’s been y’all’s experience with security?

  8. Tracy

    Have a great trip to Chicago! We got some snow this weekend here in Chicago and are expecting another wave to hit tomorrow! I am one of the few people I know that love the snow, so I’m excited! (plus, I always hope for a snow day!)

  9. kathryn

    I don’t pack a whole meal, but I always take lots of fresh fruit and a few litres of water on board. Plus I always order a vegan meal – they tend to be lighter, and you avoid the big globs of heavy cheese and egg that are in other meals. Then I’ll usually just eat half the meal.

    You don’t need a lot of food on planes: you’re hardly moving and they feed you regularly. So it’s best to eat the bare minimum, to avoid that full feeling.

    I usually find this means I sleep better on the plane, and it also cuts down on my jet lag the other end.

  10. monica

    Thank you for all your comments! I’m finally here and am happy to see all the snow on the ground. But I need to comment on the flight…

    As BD predicted, my yogurt didn’t make the cut as my container was greater than 100ml. Everything else went through fine. But I have to agree with Adam – it IS a pain lugging around all that food. Still, I don’t know how I’d deal with fasting for the whole flight. I think I’d get a bit cranky.

    I also do what kathryn suggests and order the vegan meal to avoid “globs” of cheese. On yesterday’s flight (British Airways), this meant globs of pasta and stale dinner rolls instead, which I didn’t eat. But I did get fresh fruit and plain salad which wasn’t so bad.

    I also didn’t need nearly all the food I brought. Next time I’ll probably just stick with the plain raw veggies and one piece of fruit and a smaller container for the yogurt.

    I still came out the other end feeling like a slug. My stomach gets so crampy and horrible on those long flights. I would LOVE to know how to avoid this! Maybe Adam is right – maybe fasting is the way forward? Any other ideas?

  11. Adam Steer, Better Is Better

    Hey Monica,

    You certainly wouldn’t want a flight to be your first experience with Intermittent Fasting. But once you’ve done a few fasts you realize that it really isn’t all that tough. At first, it is more a psychological thing than anything else. Your body is just fine. You get hunger pangs but they come and then go surprisingly quickly. In the end, it teaches you a lot about your own hunger and appetite. You end up being much less of a “slave” to it.

    I fasted all the way from Quebec City to Tokyo this summer (en route to give a workshop in Singapore). It was a piece of cake (not literally…). On shorter flights I always fast.

    And the one time I did carry food with me on a flight recently, I ended up sitting in customs for a half an hour in Newark with all the illegal immigrants and suspected criminals. All for a measly bag of cashews…! 🙂



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