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“You are allowed one carry on and one personal item” is a phrase anyone traveling is familiar with. But here’s a little secret: you can bring your food with you as an extra (third!) bag. 

Why should you do this? Because it’s hard to eat healthy while flying the friendly skies. And while some airlines are better than others, the complexity of creating and serving meals at 35,000 feet does not lend itself to the highest of quality or freshest food.

While food in the airports has objectively gotten better in the past decade (terminal 6 at LAX and that one place next to Chick-fil-A in Denver), more often than not you’re confronted with the sad cooler at Hudson News full of food that is trying to kill you. Heck, even the ‘healthy’ options I haven’t aggressively crossed out still have ingredients like “dough conditioners” - just like grandma used to use.  

Bottom line: most airport and airplane food is full of empty calories, enough sodium to give you sudden onset heart disease, and is about as nutrient-dense as the Sahara.  

So what to do? Simple, bring your own airplane food kit. I used to mock my better half for this until I saw her landing in a much happier state on our cross-country jaunts. So I got religion, and now I shall convert you. Here's what to put in your (not a carry on) food kit.

  • Water bottle - Please don’t spend $4 on a plastic bottle of water with a higher carbon-footprint than Adam Neumann’s hair. BYOB (these are awesome American-made bottles from Eastern Washington) and fill in one of the many filtered water stations scattered throughout most airports.  

  • Almonds - As much as I love Blue Diamond Smokehouse, they are full of unnecessary ingredients and they use toxic gas to pasteurize them, so they’re a no-no.  Instead, get these and roast them yourself. It’s simple. Or just buy any of the almonds at Trader Joes. All of them are pasteurized using high-pressure. No toxic gas needed.

  • Pistachios and pumpkin seeds - Yes they have fat, but you need it. And each is awesome for their own particular reason. Remember, moderation is key!

  • Grass-Fed beef sticks - these have zero sugar, high protein, are low in calories and are totally shelf-stable 

  • Apple

  • Celery sticks

  • Hummus (under 3oz and shelf-stable!) and Mary’s Gone Crackers

  • Hard-boiled eggs (or two) - Costco sells a lovely 2-pack of organic, cage-free (around $10 for 32 eggs and they have an eight week storage life) and Trader Joes sells a 6-pack if you want fewer of them. These can survive several hours outside a fridge but I often throw in a gel-pack of ice in my lunch bag - and have never once been stopped at TSA.

  • Vega One All-in-One Shake  - Everyone knows I love Vega - and you can buy this in pouches, so all you need is your water bottle and you can chug greens, protein, Omega-3 and an insane amount of vitamins and minerals while in the air. 

  • Blueberries - throw them in a plastic salad container you saved and keep them nearish the ice pack (they’ll be fine at room temp for a flight, but I like mine colder).

  • Quinoa Meal Pots - I don’t really love quinoa nor do I like artichoke - but there’s something about this combo that hits the spot. Trust me - and no refrigeration required.  

  • NuttZo packs - I love peanut butter, but it really isn’t that nutrient dense. These packs are portable, delicious, packed full of goodness, and easy to consume on anything (or by themselves!) 

  • Dark Chocolate - So many antioxidants and flavonoids in chocolate - but often lots of sugar. JoJos have lower sugar, high protein content and are made by a great lady who kicked cancer’s butt (also at Costco for about $10 for an entire pack)

  • Vigilant Foods - little oatmeal cups - all you need to do is politely ask the flight attendant for hot water and you’ve got yourself a nice snack - especially if you throw some Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts on top. The amount of Omega-3s will BLOW YOUR MIND.

  • Kale - I love bringing kale on the plane because a) it’s green and b) unlike lettuces, it doesn't get nasty when not refrigerated for a while. I use old Jetson bottles to store some dressing (again, never had a problem through TSA). You can throw the hemp hearts on this as well.

  • Shooter of Titos - Only on flights to Orlando - on which invariably a Samantha or Chad kicks my seat for 6.5 hours. 

  • GoStak containers are super helpful to store all this stuff when you fly!


You don’t need to bring all this stuff - just mix and match. In addition, I often overpack (five meat sticks, a bunch of Vegas, a few JoJos, 2 hummus) so I have enough non-perishable stuff for the flight home.  


This is my gift to you for the holidays - an epic travel hack that keeps you away from airport Arby’s, saves some cash, and actually makes you healthier than when you took off!


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