In-Flight Meals for Kids You Can Make at Home
Here's how to pack healthy in-flight meals for your youngest travelers.
Traveling with Food
It's always best to check ahead for the latest carry-on regulations. Here are some common guidelines:
- Think 3-1-1: Drinks or liquid-like foods (such as syrup) must be in a 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller container and fit into a 1-quart clear plastic zip-top bag. Just 1 of these bags is permitted per traveler.
- Beverage exceptions: You can bring more than 3.4 ounces of baby formula, baby food, breast milk, and enough juice for your trip. Carry these items separately from your quart-size zip-top bag and declare them at the security checkpoint.
- Food brought from home can be in containers larger than 3.4 ounces--with some exceptions. Pack the food in clear bags or containers so checkpoint personnel can easily see what's inside.
- Food purchased at the airport (after the security checkpoint) can be brought onboard in its original packaging.
Treats are always appreciated, and are especially helpful when you are nearing the end of your travel day to keep everyone energized.
- Baby formula, baby food, and breast milk can exceed the normal limit of 3.4 ounces, but you are allowed to carry on only enough for the duration of your flight.
- Keep infant foods separated from the other items you carry in your quart-size zip-top plastic bag.
- Bring an assortment of easy-to-eat food such as halved grapes, raisins, bits of baby carrots, and crackers. Have everything cut up in advance.
- Offer each serving in very small portions.
- Juice is allowed in quantities of more than 3 ounces and does not have to be included in your quart-size zip-top plastic bag. Bring only enough for the duration of your flight.
- Travelers' Tip: Juice boxes can expand at high altitudes and could make a wet mess when you open them. Avoid this by traveling with a sippy cup. You can also refill the sippy cup with water.
Ages 3 to 6
- Go for lots of healthy choices instead of loading them up on sugar and salt.
- Pack food in small resealable plastic bags for easy self-serve, or use mini food storage boxes.
- Kids love small sandwiches cut into shapes like triangles, squares, or circles, or try using large cookie cutters--dinosaurs, stars and moons.
- Keep tuna or chicken salads properly chilled in an insulated bag with an ice pack. Consider the length of your trip--will your ice melt before you get to eat your food?
- Yogurt and applesauce are allowed in 3-ounce or smaller containers. Look for them packaged in tubes; it is easier to transport and eat.
- Include favorite munchables: muffins, crackers, or dried fruit. (You can save a bundle by not buying these at the airport.)
Ages 7 and Older
- Let the older children help choose their travel food, and they'll be more likely to eat it.
- Try to avoid foods that need a fork and spoon.
- Pack sandwiches and wraps in an insulated bag with an ice pack.
- Hummus and bean dips are nutritious and can be carried in an insulated bag with an ice pack. Serve with pita bread.
- For salads, put washed greens and vegetables in plastic tubs, and bring small amounts of salad dressing separately. (Many grocery stores sell individual serving size packages of popular salad dressings.) If your salad includes meat, chill it with an ice pack.
- Pack nuts and dried fruit for healthy snacks.