10 healthy packed meals for your flight

No reason to pack on the pounds when you travel. Try whipping up these delicious packed meals before your next trip.
Copyright © 2014 Spanfeller Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Daily Meal® is a registered trademark of Spanfeller Media Group, Inc.  // Copyright © 2014 Spanfeller Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Daily Meal® is a registered trademark of Spanfeller Media Group, Inc.

We’ve all done it. Woken up too late to have a healthy breakfast before leaving for the airport, rushed through security, ran through the concourse to just make our gate, sat down in our cramped seat—and realized too late that we were starving.

At that point, there’s little a traveler can do to stave off hunger. Those plastic-tasting meals airlines used to pass out are a thing of the past, as are the teeny packets of honey-roasted peanuts. If travelers find themselves hungry on an airplane these days, the only thing to do is fork over 10 bucks for a can of potato chips and fight the salt bloat for the rest of the flight.

But with a little foresight and preparation, air travel doesn’t have to culminate in unhealthy snacks. There’s no rule stating that travelers can’t bring their own meals onto planes, as long as they take into consideration liquid guidelines. You’ll have to leave your bottle of ranch dressing at home, but otherwise, why not make a real meal to eat while you travel?

We’ve put together some healthy, travel friendly recipes to keep you satisfied on your next flight, be it a short jaunt to the next state or a cross-country journey.

1 of 12 Passengers on an airplane

Make it a picnic

Pack your own charcuterie the night before your trip. Freeze slices of meats and cheeses in plastic bags (remember, you won’t have access to a knife). Pre-slice whole grain bread and wrap in in plastic, then aluminum foil before storing in Tupperware. And don’t forget the take-out packets of deli mustard! The protein in the cheese and meat, along with the whole grain bread will keep you feeling full on your flight, so you don’t find yourself binging at the first Burger King you see.

More: Enjoy the ultimate warm-weather pastime with these great tips.

2 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal

Travel-friendly potato salad

Since it’s already a picnic, why not bring some potato salad? Boil red potatoes the night before you fly and add some veggies that travel well, like green beans and corn. Instead of mayo, which isn’t the best travel companion, season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Refrigerate overnight; the potatoes will soak up the oil, and you’ll have an excellent side dish the next day. 

More: These tips will help make the next potato salad you make a little lighter while still retaining all the flavor.

3 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal

Pack a pasta salad

Pasta salads are great for air travel because they don’t wilt, and you can prepare and store the ingredients separately, then mix them together onboard for a fresher salad. If you prefer a warm salad, ask your flight attendant for a cup of hot water, pour it into the bag with your prepared pasta, swirl it around for a minute, and then strain the water back out. Voila! A warm pasta dish without leaving your seat.

More: You can also try this healthy summer “pasta” salad recipe.

4 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal

Travel trail mix

Top off your healthy pasta salad with a crunchy bag of trail mix. Grocery store trail mix often has a lot of sodium, sugar and preservatives, but a homemade mix can be healthy and filling. Dried fruit mixed with roasted nuts and sunflower seeds will satisfy your sweet tooth so that you’re less likely to hit the Cinnabon during your layover, but you won’t be getting a lot of added salt and sugar.

More: Here are 10 cheap and easy DIY trail mixes.

5 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal

Wrap it up

Bread is likely to go soggy at high altitudes, but a fresh wrap in a whole-grain tortilla will keep its shape even up in the air. Try wrapping up a layer of turkey, a layer of hard-boiled egg, and a layer of peppers and blanched or steamed broccoli instead of lettuce (which will get soggy), for a protein-packed in-flight meal.

More: 20 “healthy” foods that are actually unhealthy

6 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal

Don’t forget your dip

Many companies make travel-sized dips, such as hummus, or you could always snag some packets of dressing from your local deli. It’s also super easy to blend up some chickpeas, tahini, roasted garlic and olive oil at home for the perfect accouterment to your turkey wrap.

Alternately, you could mix Greek yogurt, lemon, dill, salt and pepper for a homemade tzatziki. You can freeze it overnight in an ice tray, and it’ll thaw back to its dip form on your flight. Just make sure not to bring more than three.

More: Check out what dips are healthiest for your party.

7 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal

Bring your own chips

Airport kiosks are packed with temptation in the form of salty potato chips. But downing a bag of those will have you feeling sluggish and bloated for your trip. Why not chop kale into bite sized pieces, moisten with olive oil and bake at 450 until crispy the night before your trip? Store in a small plastic container and dip them in the hummus you brought.

More: Check out the 9 healthiest and unhealthiest potato chips.

8 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal

Grain salads

Grain salads are super trendy right now, but they’re also ideal for air travel. Lettuce doesn’t travel well and will end up a wilted mess when you’re ready to eat. But grains like quinoa hold their texture, and are packed with protein and low in calories. Just cook quinoa the night before and add your favorite veggies, like roasted beets or carrots, coat with oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and the next day, you’ve got a delicious salad ready to go.

More: Try one of these 9 sexy whole-grain salads for summer.

9 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal

Bento box

Bento boxes are just as useful on airplanes as they are at the sushi bar! The compartments are excellent for separating food and keeping it fresh. The night before your flight, freeze some grapes and a few slices of cheese, so they’ll still be fresh when you’re ready to eat. The morning of, place grapes and cheese in one of your bento compartments. Smear a few slices of whole grain bread with olive oil (which won’t get gross like mayo) and place them in the other compartment. Next, add some chilled carrot sticks and grape tomatoes, along with a travel-sized container of hummus, and voila, you’ve got yourself a sandwich, side and dessert.

10 of 12 Courtesy of The Daily Meal