Plane food. (Did you just sigh or say “ugh” at that? We did too.) Often bland and hard to identify, rarely vegan, and extremely expensive, airplane food is much more trouble than its worth. Skip the little tray all together by bringing your own tasty meals on board. Plus, we’ve found plenty of recipes that go beyond the PBJ-and-carrot-sticks combo.
What’s In, What’s Out
There are plenty of snacks, treats, and spreads that get the “all clear” for the friendly skies. According to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) guidelines, all solid food that is wrapped or in a container is allowed, as is whole, unpeeled natural food. However, if you dig into an apple while waiting in line to check your bag, you’ll have to wrap it up before hitting the security checkpoint. All liquids and semi-liquids (juice, coconut milk yogurt, hummus, and the like) should be placed into containers no larger than three ounces (the same as shampoo and soap). And with two tablespoons to each fluid ounce, you can bring on six tablespoons-worth of peanut butter without batting an eyelash. Yum.
Tricks of the Trade
You can still have a tasty meal onboard without purchasing prepackaged items at a terminal restaurant or paying an arm and a leg while in flight. This handy article from The New York Times offers many suggestions on how to pack food for your next flight. Two of the most interesting are to pack food that can be heated with hot water. Pack frozen vegan enchiladas in a plastic container and with sauce in a two-ounce cup—by the time you’re aboard, you’re ready to eat. In addition, you can reheat cooked pasta in flight by asking an attendant for half a cup of tea water. Add it to your container with your pasta, and close it up for a few minutes. Pour out the excess water in your original cup and now you have a hot meal.
Cruising Altitude Crudités (and More)
Pasta dishes and hearty salads are great ideas for carry-on meals. Fusilli with Cilantro Pesto is a perfect option: pack your pasta, throw the pesto into a two-ounce container, and use the hot water method. If you’re not the biggest cilantro fan—some of us here at VN are with you—this classic recipe for Pasta with Pesto works just as deliciously. Adding Marinated Tomatoes wouldn’t hurt, either. Plus the Easy Artichoke Pasta Salad is so good, the person with the window seat might swap seats just for a few bites. Salads are another easy meal to take on board (just make sure to pack your dressing separately!). For long trips, however, we suggest hearty salads like the Super Easy Quinoa Salad, the colorful Stoplight Quinoa Salad, or some Miso Lentil Salad (add some brown rice to really fill yourself up). Nobody likes wilted greens, after all.
With a little creativity, some planning, and the right-sized containers, you can eat like vegan royalty at 40,000 feet. Now, if only they would give you a little more legroom.