In-flight snacks

By Mir
December 21, 2006

Mmmm… snacks.

Mom Nancy writes:

Hello Lovely Pretty Mir!

My question pertains to a family trip (9hour flight) we’re taking mid-January with three kids under age 9 — one with a peanut allergy. I need some suggestions for snacks in their carry-ons that won’t have them all sugar-high half way through the flight, and that won’t cause a need to break out the Epi-pen. Every kind of snack/cereal bar I look at is either loaded with high fructose corn syrup, or may contain peanuts.

I remember you mentioned packing your own snacks when you went to BlogHer, and I recall Monkey was a no-nut kid as well. So I’m hoping you’ll have some great suggestion that I’m obviously overlooking. I’m limited to regular supermarkets — no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods within an hour of me.

Any other flight tips are welcome as well!


Ask and ye shall receive, Nancy!

First of all, if you go back to this post about flying with children, you’ll find not only my tips but a ton of awesome reader input on entertaining kids on a plane. Great stuff in the comments, there.

Second: Snacks. I love snacks. I love to eat them, I love to talk about them. I… think I love you, Nancy. (Was that too much? I think it may have been. Sorry.)

Anyway. Here’s the thing about me and trips and the kids. Although we eat what I would consider fairly healthy food 99% of the time, I think a long trip is a good time to bend the rules. So, sugar? High-fructose corn syrup? Bring it on. I don’t actually mind those things as an occasional indulgence, and in fact usually leverage the impending goodies in my favor. (“If you don’t behave, we will not be taking the Pez dispensers on the plane,” etc.)

Now, having said that: I still have plenty of relatively healthy favorite snacks. For a trip like this, I’d encourage you to pack an insulated lunch bag for each child, filled with more food than you think you could possibly need, and then they can graze whenever they’re hungry. So here are my suggestions:

  • Fruit. Check and make sure that you’re not traveling somewhere that forbids the transport of produce. If that’s not an issue, go nuts. Apples and oranges will travel better than bananas, obviously, because you don’t have to worry about them getting squished. Grapes are a favorite, too, and can be frozen beforehand to stay nice and cool for the day.
  • Veggies and dip. Again, you need to check into produce transport. And you need to have kids who will actually eat them. But my kids love carrot “chips” (I buy them in a bag in the salad aisle, already cut), celery, green pepper, green beans, and cucumbers. Throw in a little container of ranch dip and they’re good to go.
  • Robert’s American Gourmet. I can buy this stuff at my grocery store, but if you can’t, definitely check it out on Amazon through the link. We have yet to try a Robert’s American Gourmet snack which we don’t all immediately love. I recently order a case of Chaos when buying Amazon groceries (and using the coupon code GROCERY3 to save $10 off of my $49+ order), and the kids are crazy for it. We also like the various “Booty” snacks, the Tings, and the Veggie Chips. I love this company; all of their snacks are relatively healthy, free of artificial stuff, and delicious.
  • Make your own trail mix. I haven’t done this much, lately, because my son outgrew his peanut allergy and now we can eat commercial mixes… but the kids always loved this. Mix together popcorn, favorite cereals, raisins, dried cranberries—anything they like, really. You’re just making a nut-free trail mix.
  • Cheez-Its. It seems silly to mention this, but this is the go-to snack for us in a pinch. Everyone likes them, they’re relatively filling, and now that you can buy the “White Cheddar” flavor, they’re not even electric orange. Works for me.
  • Cookies. Cookies? Yes, cookies. This is another of my cheats: I bake semi-healthful options (oatmeal raisin, banana wheat germ) (yes, really… stop looking at me like that) and then pass them out as if they’re candy. The kids are impressed and I still feel okay about what they’re eating.

The biggest trick, I think, is to pack individually for everyone. And that doesn’t mean buying single-serving packs of everything; snack-size Ziploc bags are your friends. Pack a large variety in an easily-accessible manner, and I doubt you’ll have any complaints.

Have a wonderful trip!


  1. seriously, Mir… where do you get this stuff? is there no question you can’t answer?

    no wonder you are so lovely and smart!

  2. Probably falls under the same category are Cheez-Its but, we always have “Goldfish” crackers packed whenever we go anywhere.

    Also Pretzel Sticks are another great one as they seem to have a “tummy filling” ability far greater than their actual size.

  3. We just got back from a long flight with 3 kids as well, one of whom is peanut allergic. I just wanted to add that the Robert’s American Gourmet stuff is nut free. Sunbutter makes a peanut free trail mix, as well as the actual sunbutter if you wanted to make sandwiches to take along. Cheese sticks and sandwiches are good as long as you can keep them cold. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to take any liquids through security. My kids like chips and Teddy Grahams, too.

  4. We like to eat chips and salsa on the plane. I found small packable cups of salsa in the natural food aisle of my local Shaws. And pretzel goldfish rock!

    I used to bring ice packs on the plane to keep food cool but they are not allowed anymore. Maybe if you bought a cold drink at the airport (past security) you could put it in with your snack.

    They are not for people with nut allergies, but my oldest son loves Clif Z Bars in the brownie flavor. They are much better than your usual cereal bar. But they are not recommended for people with nut allergies because of shared equipment.

  5. string cheese
    cereal that can be eaten as finger food (I like Quaker Oatmeal Square)

    Finger food that takes a long time to eat is a good idea, as it helps pass the time.

  6. Even fruits are generally ok to take on the plane if you’re going to a foreign destination where you can’t import it as long as you have eaten it (or disposed of it) before you get off the plane in your destination. On the plane = OK, off the plane = no good. So just make sure you clear any leftover fruit out of your bag before deplaning, which is easy enough as the flight attendants clear out all the trash before landing.

  7. You have just expanded our family’s snacking repertoire….(by a whole lot)

    Thank you!!

  8. Make some granola bars, that way you can put in whatever you want and my kids love them!
    Granola Bars
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
    2 Tbsp. honey
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    1 egg
    1 cup flour
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 1/2 cups rolled oats
    1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal
    1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
    1 cup chocolate chips*
    In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter until fluffy. Add honey, vanilla and egg. Mix well. Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir in remaining ingredients. Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
    To microwave, press ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Microwave on medium power for 7 to 9 minutes. Rotate dish every three minutes. Bars will firm as they stand. Cool and cut into bars. Save the crumbs for yogurt or ice cream topping. Makes 24 bars
    * The following may be used in addition to or to replace chocolate chips:
    1 cup coconut
    1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
    1/2 cup nuts
    1/2-1 cup raisins, dried apples, apricots
    1/2 cup fruit preserves

  9. Alton Brown has an excellent granola bar recipe i make all the time..

    another suggestion..
    if you dont want to cook..
    These do have HFCS (bummer), but they aren’t that sweet and they are pretty healthy, so they are a staple in the Microdot’s snacking goods.
    Whole Wheat Fig Newtons. Lots of fruit, and whole wheat… healthier than a nutrigrain bar!

    Another suggestion is dried banana chips–easy to carry along, and my little un loves em, if they wouldnt be too sweet

  10. Thank you all so much! I’ve got an awesome list to work from thanks to you Mir-folk, and I greatly appreciate it. I’m going to scope things out at one of the bigger grocery stores by my Target…because my regular grocery store only has eight aisles (but they bag my groceries and put them in my van and I know all the employees by name, so it’s worth it!).

    I don’t really have a problem with some sweet treats (that’s the easy part), but I didn’t want it to be ALL sweets. My girls need some protein along the way or it’s melt-down city. Also, the two non-peanut-allergic are kind of picky – BUT, I’ve got lots of things to work with now (thanks for the recipe Christina), including some things I overlooked (oatmeal cookies, duh!), and Amazon grocery as my back-up.

    And Mir? I think I love you too- SMOOCHES!

  11. Banana wheat germ cookies? yum. Share?

  12. Rebecca’s nut free sells nut free granola bars.

  13. We bring along popcorn, fruit rollups, celery with cream cheese and make small sandwiches on dinner rolls (good kid-size). Pretzel rods, carrots with ranch dip (pre-packaged) and mini-bagels do the trick, too. My son likes an assortment and we pack in a in a smallsoft-side lunch case. I allow him a stick of gum on flights. Have fun!

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