You spend exorbitant amounts of money and take out valuable PTO to get on a plane and head to your holiday destination of choice—only to be met with a series of injustices for the duration of the flight. There’s a child in 3B who has decided it’s his duty to alert the rest of the cabin to the fact that he’s tired via high-pitched wails. Your seatmate has self-medicated with copious amounts of Chardonnay and unceremoniously fallen asleep on top of you. The bathroom is a health code violation of the highest degree. And you finally get dinner only to discover that it’s actually inedible unless you’re okay with contracting three to four food-borne illnesses and spending the rest of your vacation on bedrest.
Sounds exactly like the glamorous, jet-setting experience you envisioned, right? We prepare for the physical toils airplanes takes on us via carefully curated travel wellness regimes, so why not turn the same attention to our food? If you’d rather staycation in the TSA line than suffer through “chicken” in a tin ever again, keep reading.
From quick snacks to the heartier meals that’ll actually keep you full, here are the healthy dishes to make ahead before your next airplane trip.
Not one for heavy meals on flights? Pack a bag of these smoky-flavored chickpeas to snack on throughout your trip. Fried with other aromatics like thyme and lemon zest, these crunchy treats are way more interesting than a sad, little bag of almonds. Trust us. Or at least, trust the five-star reviews on Food52.
If you’re the type of snacker who thrives off chips and dip, consider this a healthy alternative. Muhammara is a roasted red pepper and walnut spread native to the Middle East; and while it’s usually served with bread or as a sauce for meats and fish, it would be equally delish with pita chips or an assortment of crudités. Make up to a week in advance (though a few days before departure is ideal) and store it in your fridge to avoid last-minute meal prep.
Granola bar loyalists, you need this recipe in your life. These bars are vegan, gluten-free, and only require nine ingredients and half an hour of your time to make. Each batch makes 10 bars, which you can store in an airtight container until you’re ready to head to the airport or even freeze to keep them super fresh, as per Dana from Minimalist Baker’s suggestion.
Whereas store-bought granola bars are either filled with processed ingredients or crumble into a million pieces as soon as you open the packet (lookin’ at you, Nature Valley), these are packed with all-natural ingredients. Win-win, all around.
This protein-packed “salad” is the perfect way to prep for a Mediterranean-bound holiday. Greek favorites like feta and kalamata olives sit atop a mix of veggies that won’t ruin your pre-vacation regimen.
Too pretty to eat? According to Beth from Local Milk, that would be a mistake, because these insanely gorgeous bites are as delicious as they are good for you (read all about the benefits of adaptogens here). Meant to relieve the negative effects of stress, adaptogens just might be the perfect thing to eat on the plane… especially if you’re a nervous flyer.
Oh, and these garnishes—while beautiful—are totally optional if you don’t have time to carefully dust bee pollen onto chocolate truffles pre-flight. There’s not much service at 38,000 ft to Instagram your food, anyway.
Put down the Lays—did you know you can make chips from scratch, and it’s pretty easy to do so? Doing so cuts down on oil and salt because you have total control over every component. And given that these chips are comprised of butternut squash instead of the standard potato, they’re even better for you. Simply toss your sliced squash together with a few herbs and bake in the oven to crisp. It’s really that basic.
Alright, full disclosure: There’s not much about a decadent muffin that qualifies as a health food. Except maybe the blueberries, but does it count if the aforementioned blueberries are coated in unashamedly large quantities of gluten?
These are for the traveler who needs comfort food to get through a flight. Consider these delicious pastries a reward for not yelling back at the screaming baby in the row in front of you. Enjoy with a hot tea or coffee—hard to mess up, even on an airplane—for a breakfast you’ll like way more than the bruised banana and crumbled granola bar doled out on most planes.
The beauty of a pasta salad? You can eat it cold—and certain parties would even argue that it tastes better that way. Spicy salami coupled with a refreshing vinaigrette make for quite a flavorful meal that’ll keep you full through your long-haul flight.
See more recipes we’re making this week:
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