The best tip I can give you about food is to start thinking about road food when you do your shopping for the week of your trip. Leftovers make The Best Lunchbox. Everyone in the family has already accepted or rejected various parts of the meals so you won’t get “I hate that!” when it’s all you got. It saves oodles of money because you don’t waste the food as it shrivels up in your fridge while you are traveling. And it provides a broad variety of choice for what I like to call The Rule of Five.
What you need to know: Don’t use mayonnaise. Nothing ruins travel like a bad tummy, so just don’t risk it. There are plenty of alternatives that still give the creamy wetness to a sandwich, but won’t spoil quickly – butter, olive oil, smashed avocado, tomato slices, soft cheese, cream cheese, nut butters….
What to Eat: The Rule of Five
Each lunchbox will be nutritious and tasty and pretty and fun to eat if you follow The Rule of Five. It’s really The Rule of AT LEAST Five, because I can almost never resist throwing in just one more tasty leftover.
Five different colors. Did you know that the natural colors of foods identify their nutrients? So if you pack 5 different colors, you’ll be eating a nice balanced meal even if you don’t know what the nutrients are!
Example: Blueberries, Red peppers, Green Celery, White whole grain crackers, Brown peanut butter. Or Black Olives, Red sun-dried tomatoes, Green Zucchini strips, white mashed potatoes, pink ham.
Five different tastes. Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Savory.
Example: Berries, Oranges, Salted Nuts, Anything pickled, Cheese or meat.
Five different shapes. Find or Cut your food into circles, triangles, strips, squares, stars, flowers…whatever little cookie cutter things you have around the house. It takes a little more time, but it could mean the difference between your kids screaming for the sugary snacks the flight attendants are hauling down the aisle and kids who eat what you packed.
Example: Heart shaped strawberries (just cut in half the long way), sandwich triangles, oval boiled eggs, rectangular celery stuffed with wavy peanut butter and dotted with black raisins.
Five different textures. Crunchy, creamy, chewy, grainy, spongy.
Examples: Raw veggies, nut butters, chicken or cheese, whole grain bread, pound cake with honey, round rice balls with soy sauce.
Five different cooking styles. Raw, steamed, boiled, baked, fried, sautéed.
You caught me, that’s six. But remember this is really The Rule of AT LEAST Five. If you think of more ways to cook food, let me know I’ll add them!
Now put this altogether in a five piece lunch box like the one pictured above (or just recycle plastic containers from your life and put them in a frozen, gel-sided lunch bag to keep it cool like I do and you got road food, baby!
What to Drink
I go for the FREE onboard drinks. Like…water. Flying is dehydrating and dehydration causes travel fatigue which I. Do. Not. Like. But also juices, and soda if you are into that.
For Kids: did you know that the flight attendent will always honor a kind request to mix juices (or juice and soda)? So if you have a kid who likes to be special (and who DOESN’T), ask them what two drinks they’d like to mix together and then let them drink it. I consider this part of Kid Inflight Entertainment*. After they get their drink and like or reject it (you can always get another free beverage), give them a pen and paper and ask them to list as many combinations of juices and sodas as they can think of – and then try one on the next flight!
Liquids that are not fully frozen will not make it through security. Unless you can fit them into 3 oz containers that fit into your quart-size ziplock baggie (QSZB). It can be done, you’ll just have to choose between beverages and moisturizer. I save the space in my QSZP for the 1 0z ice packs that help keep my food cool. A better idea: remember that drinks are free on the flight, even in coach. So, with a few exceptions I’ll talk about in a minute, I don’t take liquid refreshment through security.
What you need to know: You can take the little plane-sized bottles of alcohol onto the plane if they fit in your QSZB to save the $7 per, but you’ll have to hand the unopened bottle to the flight attendant and ask them to pour it. And it’s completely up to them whether they say yes or no. Don’t get mad about, it’s the game you signed up for when you bought the ticket. Think of it this way, in the movie theatre, you aren’t supposed to bring in your own popcorn, on a plane if you want to drink alcohol you should pay for it. Or buy a first class ticket.
*Kid Inflight Entertainment is a future post – but first I have to pow-wow with MY mom, as she was in charge of this with ME!