By Liane Wansbrough, CNP

Airplane food has never been very good—even when it was free. Now that most major airlines charge for meals we’re usually stuck with a mismatched medley of junk food and bland, dodgy looking sandwiches.

Preparing food for trips takes some planning but the rewards are definitely worth it. Having access to fresh fruit, a handful of almonds and some good quality dark chocolate can make a long, cramped flight that much more bearable. Bringing your own snacks can also help you bypass the fast food while in transit.

If time allows I usually try to set myself up (and my kids) for travel by taking the time to eat a good quality meal before we leave for the airport. Then I pack a variety of snacks that will make it through security and last until we get on the plane.

The key factor when it comes to packing snacks is choosing options that will maintain texture and don’t require packing liquids. A leafy green salad, for example, will wilt before you have a chance to eat it.

I’ve found that for travel a quinoa, bean or tabbouleh style salad packed into a container holds up well. This type of salad allows you to get away with adding some olive oil based dressing because the grains will absorb the liquid. Once onboard you simply the salad shake up and it’s ready to eat.

Another option is bringing vegetable-based sushi such as California rolls on board a flight. My kids love finger foods and for me sushi feels substantial like a meal. Cheese and crackers have also saved me many times—in particular if you crave salty foods while traveling. It’s a better alternative than chips and pretzels. To keep the cheese in good shape for a flight, try freezing individual portions ahead of time. The cheese will thaw in time for eating. I also bring baby tomatoes and some cut up vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers and celery. I add to this mix some fresh grapes and it makes a civilized mini meal.

Other snacks that I regularly bring for travel include:

  • Raw unsalted almonds, macadamia nuts or cashews
  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Dark chocolate
  • Lara or Simply Protein bars
  • Green tea bags
  • Grass-fed beef or turkey jerky
  • Olives
  • Fruit (grapes, mandarin oranges, bananas)
  • Artichoke hearts (drained)