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Best TSA Approved Airplane Snacks

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One question I see over and over again on social media is, “What are the best TSA approved airplane snacks?” Let’s be honest — passing through TSA with food in your carry-on can be tricky. But once you’ve figured out the art of mastering TSA you’ll be flying with the best stash of safe food.

Until then check out my suggestions and keep in mind I’m a huge TSA nerd. I love to see how much food I can pack without TSA even batting so much as an eyelash.

People walking carrying a travel on suitcase

You definitely want to pin this now for your next trip. Because this post is packed with helpful travel information.

Importantly, listed below you’ll find tips for keeping your food cold while on a flight, lists of the best airplane snacks for kids and adults, and my must read “7 Tips for Flying With Food Allergies.”

two food coolers sitting on an airplane tray table

how should I transport my TSA approved food?

  • first invest in good quality ice packs like these. Or freeze drinks to place in your cooler. But never try to pass through with unfrozen liquids; you’ll definitely be slowed down in TSA and have your drinks removed. This even includes factory-sealed water, yogurt, almond milk, etc. Now if you’ll be staying in a hotel at your final destination, kindly ask them to store your ice packs in their freezer until your departure. I’ve never had a problem with a hotel saying no to this request.
  • now let’s talk coolers. I can’t remember the last time I flew and didn’t travel with a carry-on cooler. And when my children travel with me the size and number of coolers changes. Here are my recommendations depending on your need:
  • lastly here is the most up to date TSA link to review their “What Can I Bring?” food section
oatmeal and orange juice on an airplane tray table

TSA approved breakfast ideas

  • slices of fresh bread (check out my homemade banana bread recipe here. We fly often with fresh homemade slices)
  • individual containers of instant oatmeal found here. You can ask for a cup of hot water on the airplane or at a coffee shop in the terminal. I pack along a spoon and little baggie of dried fruit and brown sugar to enjoy with it.
  • Enjoy Life Breakfast Ovals are perfect for on-the-go traveling and early morning flights. It’s worth noting there are 4 breakfast oval flavors to choose from. You can purchase a variety pack of 20 bars here.
  • fresh fruit
  • homemade granola bars, Lara Bars, or Kind Bars
  • homemade raw balls or energy bites
  • muffins
an enjoy life breakfast oval bar
sandwich, grapes, peppers on an airplane tray

best TSA approved lunch and dinner ideas

  • sandwiches or tortilla wraps
  • salads with dressing in a side container
  • jerky
  • hard boiled eggs
  • fruit and veggies (grapes and sliced peppers are our favorites)
  • Peanut butter packets & jelly/ jam packets for PB & Jelly sandwiches
  • leftover pizza (who else loves slices of cold, leftover pizza?!)
  • slices of Hickory Farm Summer Sausage and these allergen friendly crackers ; side note — we love, love, love this airline meal
  • protein bars
  • Lara bars, Kind bars
  • raw energy bites (protein balls)
  • and if you’re flying internationally always consume anything perishable before you land
several snacks items on top of a carry on bag
several gluten and dairy free snacks

best TSA approved airplane snacks

  • popcorn
  • muffins
  • fresh fruit salad bowl (oranges, bananas, melon, grapes, watermelon, apples, blueberries)
  • raw energy bites
  • homemade trail mix packed with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, dried fruit (Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips or banana chips are fun to add in)
  • fresh veggies (bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, celery)
  • taffy and suckers (I love to give my kids this when we are taking off or landing to help their ears adjust)
  • jerky packets
  • oreo sandwich cookies
  • vanilla wafers (soy and nut free too)
  • dried banana chips or plantain chips
  • homemade banana bread (the recipe is found here)
  • Lara bars, Kind bars
  • chips
  • gluten free pretzels (these are our favorite)
  • dried dates, figs, apricots from Fruit Bliss Dried Fruit mix, found locally or here
  • individually wrapped fruit roll ups to keep my fidgety kids busy, fruit ropes, or fruit leathers
  • Enjoy Life has several snack size pre-packed items my kids love. Such as these chewy cocoa bars and their individually packed mini cookies.
  • I like to grab seasonal candy when it’s on a clearance sale too
  • lastly if flying internationally consume anything perishable before you land
snacks and a drink on an airplane tray table
A slice of banana bread, and other snacks on an airplane tray table

the most important thing I always pack in my suitcase

is a brown paper bag filled with safe snacks for the return flight. When I was just starting out on my gluten and dairy free journey, I struggled over our first few flights to have food for return flights home. And when you live in Montana, you typically have 2 or oftentimes 3 flights until you make it home. The worst thing I could do was not have snacks for the return flights, but this happened.

Can you believe this even happened to me recently? Imagine I forgot to pack “the brown bag” and it’s Christmas Eve. There’s bad weather and we’re on our 3rd and last flight of the day. And our family of 5 has been sitting on the tarmac for over 2 hours. While seated the flight attendants pass out snacks, but nothing we can enjoy. And then when we finally deplane it’s after midnight in a small Montana town with nothing but a small gas station open at 12:30 a..m. on Christmas morning. Needless to say we’re starving! We persuaded our hotel shuttle driver to go out of the way so we could swing by the only gas station open. We grabbed safe junk food to eat once we were in the hotel, and chips and salsa for our Christmas morning meal. Talk about a serious mom fail, y’all.

Never again will I travel without our brown bag.

a brown bag on an airplane tray table

7 tips for flying with food allergies

  • always plan ahead; make your TSA approved snack and meal list days before your flight and pack food the day before. You don’t want to be grabbing snacks as you’re running out the door. It just won’t end well and you’ll most likely get hungry and frustrated on your flight.
  • stay away from too many peanut and tree nuts foods. If you’ve packed mostly snacks with peanuts or tree nuts, then the worst thing you can hear announced on your flight is that it will be a peanut or tree nut free flight. I always try to make a note of packing snacks or meals that for the majority are peanut and tree nut free.
  • always be prepared for delays by packing extra snacks… plenty more snacks than you think you’ll need because you can always bring the extras home. And I would rather have extra food in my carry-on than being hangry on a flight or even worse… having hangry kids. You never know when you’ll be stranded in an airport overnight, sitting on the tarmac for hours, or running to catch your next flight and not have time to grab terminal food.
  • fly with a favorite. This isn’t the time to pack all veggies and rice cakes unless that’s what you’d normally eat. Always pack one fun and exciting snack especially if you’r traveling with kids.
  • include a return flight snack bag, always! See my highlights above on this important tip.
  • if you’re traveling internationally, phone the airline to request gluten and dairy free meals; however I’ve heard so many horror stories about passengers not receiving their gluten and dairy free meals. It seems really risky. Again I’d pack an abundance of extra food in case your safe airline meal doesn’t make its way onto the plane.
  • invest in TSA Precheck. This was the best travel investment we made for our family. If you fly even once a year, I’d recommend this perk. The TSA Precheck line and staff are much more lenient with your packed food. They very, very rarely remove our food from our coolers, let alone look at it or test it with their testing strips. And you zip through security.
A picture that says, "Don't fly hungry."

lastly

How many times have you had to sprint from one terminal to another without time to use the restroom, let alone grab a bite to eat so you could catch a flight? This happened to me not so long ago just before a long flight to Hawaii. I was so thankful I had packed a extra snacks!

It’s worth noting you never know if you’ll be offered a safe airline snack or have time to find something in the terminal. We can’t control airport or airline food, but we can control what we pack. Planning ahead is key to eating well and flying well.

And speaking of planning ahead, be sure to check out my food travel guides. You’ll notice I offer safe food suggestions for several cities, and I’m adding to this list often.

Pinning this best TSA approved snacks post is a must. You never know when you might need it.

And do me a favor — please give me a 5 star rating if you found these suggestions helpful. Let me know in the comments what other snacks you like to pack.

Eat well, feel well and travel well,

Jill

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4 Comments

  • Twana Greenler March 10, 2020 at 12:36 am

    Hiya, I am really glad I have found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossip and internet stuff and this is really annoying. A good website with exciting content, this is what I need. Thanks for making this web-site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

    Reply
    • Jill March 27, 2020 at 7:24 pm

      Thank you for reaching out Twana. I appreciate your encouraging feedback. And I am working on setting up my newsletters now. Take care, Jill

      Reply
  • White Label SEO February 1, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jill February 1, 2020 at 8:31 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m excited you found this helpful.

      Reply

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