Today, I’m sharing two TSA-approved meals that you can recreate and take with you on your next long travel day. A lot of people think that it’s a big no-no to bring their own food to the airport, but that’s totally not the case. Almost all food can be brought through the security checkpoint, but there are some guidelines you have to follow.
The meals I’m sharing today are from recent trips I took (so yes, TSA-tested and approved!) Both meal options are gluten free, dairy free, and one is vegan! For me, traveling 20+ hours is exhausting. And if your flight is late and you don’t have time to stop for food, you’re pretty much out of luck. Plus, airport food is pricey! Your best bet is to plan and pack ahead. These meals made my trip less stressful, and I’ll never rely on airport food again. Because TSA does an awesome job at keeping our airports safe, ALL food is subject to additional screening, even if it is allowed on the plane.
I had so many people shocked that I was able to bring my own food to the airport and on the airplane. Why do we feel like we have no other options? Well, I think we are all secretly terrified of TSA, or holding up the long lines! But, if you plan and pack ahead, security will be a breeze to get through, and you’ll have delicious, budget-friendly, and healthy meals during your travel day!
I can’t believe how much money I used to spend at airports. NEVER AGAIN. When I posted this on Instagram, the most frequent question I got asked was “how did I get yogurt & hummus through TSA.” Well, 3-ounce containers! I found these containers in the baby food section. They’re great if you want to pack dippings sauce, yogurt, nut butter, salad dressing, and other liquidy foods. I mean, if you really wanted, you could pack wine in the little container 😊
As long as your meat is in a solid form, you can pack it into your carry on. Most solid foods are allowed.
I was going to need breakfast, lunch, snacks, and some dinner, during my 20-hour travel day. I usually like to have my protein yogurt with fruit in the morning, a protein source at lunch, a vegetable snack in the afternoon, and another protein source for dinner. And you never know if you’re going to get a delay, so you can play it safe and pack some extra snack bars. With my luck, it’s crucial to pack extra!
I decided to go with two turkey burgers and sweet potatoes for my lunch and dinner. I packed sliced bell peppers and carrots to snack on with hummus, grapes, an apple, and my protein yogurt for breakfast. My protein yogurt is coconut milk yogurt mixed with vanilla protein powder. I brought my water bottle to fill in one of the fountains, some of my favorite tea packets, RXBARS, superfood bites, and ginger chews.
The best advice I can give is to keep your food organized in your carry-on bag. If TSA has to keep removing food from the bag, it’ll be a big process, and security already takes long enough to get through. Keep all your containers in a large bag, and convenient enough for the workers to remove quickly if they need to. When I left Charlotte, TSA pulled out my ziplock bag with all my containers inside, saw that it was food, and put it right back in my bag for me. Just keep everything together.
Foods to Bring on Your Flight:
Homemade Healthy Muffins (vegan peanut butter banana chocolate chip gluten-free & no added sugar muffins)
Breakfast Cookies (homemade cookies)
Fresh Vegetables & Fresh Vegetables (pineapples, cantaloupe, grapes, celery, carrots, bell peppers)
Veggie Burgers (my favorite is gardening black bean chipotle burgers)
Grilled Chicken Kale Salads (grilled chicken tastes great cold, and kale holds up well)
Empty Water Bottle (stainless steel to keep it cold.)
Tea Bags (i love to bring a lemon & ginger tea for calming)
Protein Powder Packets (sample sizes are easier to pack)
Healthy Sandwiches & Wraps (wrap them in parchment paper, or keep them in a container) (travel wraps)
Quinoa or Rice (sweet quinoa salad)
Protein Pancakes (I love making protein pancakes with cashew milk, peanut butter, orgain protein, and paleo bircher blender mix)
Protein Bars (Rxbars, homemade bars, no cow bars, orgain protein bars, tone it up, or any of your favorites)
Snack Bars (homemade granola bars)
Pretzels or Crackers (I love kale chips!)
Trail Mix (make your own: dark chocolate chips, craisins, almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, dried pineapple)
Popcorn (pop your own and put it in individual baggies)
Falafel Kale Salad (a great vegan/vegetarian option)
Peanut Butter (3.4 ounces)
Hummus (3.4 ounces)
Yogurt (3.4 ounces) (i like to mix protein powder with coconut yogurt)
You can bring gel or ice packs as long as they are not melted when going through security. Sometimes packing frozen fruit bags will help keep your food cold, and you can eat the fruit as a refreshing snack later! Bring baggies to fill up with ice at restaurants after you get through security!
Here are the TSA instructions for keeping your food cool.
“If the food is packed with ice or ice packs in a cooler or other container, the ice or ice packs must be completely frozen when brought through screening. If the ice or ice packs are partially melted and have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they will not be permitted. You also can pack frozen perishables in your carry-on or checked bags in dry ice. The FAA limits you to five pounds of dry ice that is properly packaged (the package is vented) and marked.”
My hack? I just went to the food court and filled up two baggies with ice and put them in my carry on. Too much? Oh, well.
I was so hungry during the first layover that I mixed all the veggies with the hummus for a snack.
Grapes and apples are great options because they don’t bruise or go bad easily.
I asked for hot water when the flight attendant came around so I could have some of my tea while reading.
My second trip meals were so delicious. Other than the RXBARS, everything above is vegan. I thought it would be good to make a vegan travel meal plan because I’m sure it’s so hard to eat healthy while traveling as a vegan. Unless you plan on eating nuts, chips, and snack bars for twenty-hours, packing may be your best bet! It’s never smart to always rely on the airport restaurants, either! Flights can be late, and restaurants can be packed.
For lunch and dinner, I packed cold cooked quinoa with chickpeas, onions, bell peppers, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, and kale. I also made black bean burgers to eat on top for extra protein. I bought dressing for the side and kept it in a 1.5-ounce container. I brought some nut butter, snacks bars, and my empty water bottle. If it’s solid food, you’ll most likely be completely fine getting it through security, but make sure to check TSA, because some states/countries have different rules.
The best part about bringing my containers and ziplock to my first destination is being able to use those same containers and ziplock on my return flight. It made the meal planning process easier. I ended up filling the 3-ounce containers with protein yogurt and grapes. They were in the fridge cooling before my flight home. The Tone-it UP power bars are plant-based and a great snack if you want something sweet, but healthy.
Packing food made my trip run smoothly. I used to stress about having enough time to stop and grab something to eat. When I flew to Hawaii last year, I had five minutes to grab something to eat. I went almost all day without food, and I had another seven-hour flight. I panicked and grabbed a crappy turkey sandwich with potato chips. I think I paid like $22 bucks for it too 😮
I also love to bring popcorn on flights. I brought some Boom Chicka Pop with me for my layover in San Francisco. I ended up eating it while watching the new Jumanji movie. 😃 🍿
But, I’ll never turn down coffee after a 20-hour flight! I ended up reading my book to beat jetlag while drinking delicious coffee high in the sky.
Questions for you!
- Where is your next flight taking you?
- What is your favorite travel tip?
- What is one item you cannot fly without?