For those of us who have jobs that require travel, simply packing a lunch to take to work is not always so easy. Here are some tips for brown-bagging your lunch for car or air travel to help you stick to your daily brown-bag vow this month.
Airplane travel is a bit trickier then travel by car or train since there’s a security check is involved. Luckily, all airplane-friendly meals also work for car trips, bus trips and train rides, so adapt accordingly.
- Pack lightly: similar to the hassle of lugging a big bag through the airport, you don’t want to be schlepping your lunch. Think small, compact foods and non-bulky packaging. Light-weight, re-usable lunch bags help insulate your food and can easily be stowed in your suitcase when you’re finished.
- Pack non-perishables: using a water bottle as an ice pack is out since you can’t take liquids through security and a thawed ice pack is be the last thing you want to worry about for the rest of your trip. Pack foods that won’t perish quickly and think bite-size since you can’t bring a knife though. Some good ideas:
- Babybel cheese or string cheese
- Unsalted trail mix (added salt adds bloat . . . especially when flying) — you can add some dark chocolate chips for a sweet treat
- Unsalted popcorn—its great for noshing because you get to eat a bunch without packing on the calories
- Almond butter and apple sandwich
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich
- Your favorite nut butter with whole-grain pretzels or rice cakes
- Unpeeled fruit like grapes, apples or pears
- Raw veggies like carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes
- Dehydrated/dried fruits like banana chips or dried mango (opt for varieties without added sugar)
- Bars like KIND bars and Kashi granola bars also contain protein so they are both portable and filling
- If you are taking a short trip or are up for the ice pack, here are some no-fuss options (cutlery not needed)
- Light chicken salad with crackers
- Hummus with raw veggies and whole grain pita
- Salad with beans
- Some foods to avoid:
- Questionable liquids: Foods like yogurt, applesauce, juice boxes and salad dressings might be considered a liquid so leave them at home
- Fruits you have to peel: they can be quite messy and result in sticky fingers which is never fun
- Delicate fruits: peaches and nectarines bruise easily and berries can mash into a mess
- Smelly foods: planes are cramped and you won’t make friends with your neighbor if you pack strong smelling foods like tuna, raw onions, lots of garlic or stinky cheese.
- Spicy foods: don’t risk an upset stomach. Airplane bathrooms are the pits to begin with . . . you don’t want to have to spend extra time in there or even worse, risk there being a line.
- Salty foods: plane rides can be really dehydrating so stay away from foods loaded with sodium, or compensate by drinking plenty of water.
What do you pack to take on the plane?
Stay tuned for Brown Bagging on the Road: Vacations and Business Travel