15 Easy-to-Pack, Delicious, and Cheap Airline Snacks
You can almost always expect a delay at the airport these days, which means that you could be stranded for hours eating expensive grub in the terminal or forced to scarf down something from the limited selection of onboard snacks in hopes of holding yourself over until you arrive at your destination. Unless you've prepared, of course. Before you hop on that jet plane to someplace (hopefully) awesome, stock up on these easy-to-pack snacks that'll help keep your tummy happy and your temper in check. (See also: Free Ways to Entertain Yourself at the Airport)
1. Granola With Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruit
For a snack that's all at once sweet, crunchy, and healthy, mix up your favorite granola, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits (use the latter sparingly to cut back on the calories) in a bowl and transfer to a zipper baggie. I like this recipe for on-the-go granola — even though it requires a bit of advance prep. If you're short on time, you can skip the fancy-pants granola and just pack what you already have in your pantry. (See also: Quick Pantry Snacks)
2. Cracker Sandwiches With Almond Butter
Slather almond butter between two crackers to make bite-sized sandwiches. Be careful not to spread the butter too thick, however, so you don't have a huge mess. Personally, I enjoy a small dab of almond butter between two Cheez-It crackers. Regulate the amount of butter between the crackers by piping it onto the squares. Just add some of the nut butter to a zipper bag, snip off a tiny corner of the baggie, put a small dab on each cracker, and place the crackers together to make tiny sandwiches.
3. Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn
Making homemade popcorn is just as easy as microwave popcorn if you have the right equipment — and it's healthier for you, too. Either way, you can doctor up plain popcorn by spritzing the final product with olive oil and tossing in half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese and a teaspoon of black pepper. Pack the popcorn in a freezer bag to put in your carry-on. (See also: Homemade Popcorn)
4. Kale Chips
Kale chips are all the rage these days, and it's easy to see why. Not only are these "chips" good for you, but they also hardly take any time at all. After rinsing and drying your kale, toss the leaves in a bag with olive oil, sea salt, and garlic powder. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes to get them nice and crispy. All the fun of potato chips without any of the guilt. (See also: Easy Kale Recipes)
5. Cinnamon Cayenne Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great on-the-go snack anytime, but where will you spit all those pesky shells on the plane? You won't have to worry about them in this recipe for cinnamon cayenne sunflower seeds that uses shelled seeds. Sprinkle a cup or so with cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and sea salt, and bake in a 325-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Once cooled, store in a zipper bag.
6. Chocolate and Pretzels
You could make chocolate-covered pretzels fairly easily, but why waste your time? You'll get the same salty-sweet effect by simply packing bite-sized pretzels with chocolate squares (dark chocolate for extra antioxidants) or chocolate chips. If you prefer something more nontraditional, swap the chocolate chips for peanut butter chips or a combination of the two.
7. Seasoned Beef/Turkey Jerky
Beef or turkey jerky is the ideal plane snack for several reasons:
- It's flat;
- It's packed with protein to help you feel fuller longer;
- It's available just about anywhere.
But if you prefer to make your own, here's a decent recipe for beef jerky. Heads up — you'll want to get started a few days in advance.
8. Maple Citrus Roasted Pecans
Nuts are the quintessential plane snacks, but this recipe for maple citrus roasted pecans kicks the classic up a notch. You'll need raw pecans halves, maple syrup, sea salt, orange extract, and a pinch of ground ginger. Roast the nuts at 350 degrees until fragrant. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Coat the nuts with the sauce and return to a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes more. Allow to cool before packing. (See also: The Best and Worst Nuts)
9. Meat and Cheese Pita Pocket
If you want something heartier to hold you over until you get to where you're going, pack a deli meat and cheese pita. Pitas are great travel sandwiches because pita bread is sturdier than sliced bread — so it won't get all smushed up — and it's fairly flat for easy stowing. When making the sandwich, consider only filling the pocket with lettuce, meat, and cheese. Tomatoes can get mushy, and condiments will make the bread soggy. Once you're at the airport or onboard the plane, pick up (or ask the flight attendant for) packets of mustard or mayonnaise to add a little more flavor. (See also: Low-Cal Condiments to Brighten Up Boring Food)
Petite, portable, and easy to peel, Clementines are a great snack to pack for the airplane. They're hydrating and refreshing after a long flight, and they'll make you smell a little better, too. Just be careful when packing, so they don't end up squished before takeoff.
11. Coconut and Chocolate Energy Bites
Anything with the word energy in it at the supermarket tends to be rather expensive, but you can make your own energy snacks at home with a little effort and even less money. This recipe for an energy-enhancing snack in the form of bite-sized balls includes oatmeal, toasted coconut, peanut butter, flaxseeds, chocolate chip, honey, chia seeds, and vanilla extract. The best part is there's no baking required. Great for those long midday flights when you'll need to snap back to reality once you make it to your destination.
12. Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Jazz up an otherwise dull flight with a couple of handfuls of spicy oven-roasted chickpeas. Mix olive oil, ground cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and sea salt with two cans of chickpeas, and bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Wash down your homemade in-the-air snack with relaxing bloody mary or cold beer while you catch the in-flight movie.
13. Garlic and Herb Pita Chips
The on-board pita chips can set you back $5 for just a few ounces, but you can get more bang for your buck by making these garlic and herb pita chips at home. Total prep and cook time is just 20 minutes, and you probably have all the ingredients — which include pitas, EVOO, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt — already on hand.
14. Mediterranean Wrap
This Mediterranean wrap recipe is ideal for travel because it includes several hearty ingredients that will hold up well even if you're not able to eat it for a few hours. The main players include grilled chicken, chopped tomatoes and cucumber, and couscous, and there's no addition of a spread that threatens to spoil the wrap or makes it soggy if left at room temperature for too long.
15. Chex Mix
There's not much creativity in packing a bag of Chex Mix for your flight, but you can't knock its ability to hit the spot when you're craving something crunchy. I'm also a big fan of Gardetto's Original Recipe Snack Mix, but that can sometimes be hard to find in smaller, travel-ready bags. Whatever you choose, be sure to pick up your snacks at your local supermarket instead of at the airport where you'll most definitely pay a premium.
Do you have other easy-to-pack plane snacks that you'd like to share with us? Let me know in the comments below.