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How to pack food for your airline flight

A freezable lunch bag lets you bring fresh food on board

A freezable lunch bag featured on Packit.com
Travel is not only exhilarating, it can also be physically taxing. Your body must adjust to different time zones, exercise routines, sleep disruption, fatigue, and diet.

While all of these changes impact our health and well-being, I find diet causes me the most trouble. Maintaining a healthy diet on the road isn’t easy and air travel is a contributing factor.

Airlines rarely feed their coach passengers and the snacks and food they sell onboard is limited. Airports sometimes have good food outlets, but you can’t depend on it. Carrying or locating healthy foods that don’t require refrigeration is a challenge.

A lunch bag solution

I tried a freezable lunch bag on my recent trip. It has a freezable gel liner built right into the lunch bag that you place in the freezer overnight for 12 hours, as per instructions.

After my bag was frozen, I packed it with sliced fresh peaches and mango, a homemade turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato, and I tucked napkins and a plastic spoon and fork in the outside pocket.

The frozen lunch bag made it through the TSA checkpoint without any problem and once inside, I added a yogurt parfait and a chilled bottle of water.

The lunch bag I chose (they come in different sizes with many pattern/color options) had a strap and could be worn over the shoulder, but I tucked mine in my tote bag. It kept my food cool for ten hours and for the first time, I was fully satisfied on my flight and felt raring to go when I reached my destination.

TSA guidelines on food

You are permitted to carry meat, fish, vegetables and other non-liquid food items in your carry-on. The TSA guidelines state: “If the food is packed with ice or ice packs in a cooler or other container, the ice or ice packs must be completely frozen when brought through screening. If the ice or ice packs are partially melted and have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they will not be permitted.”

As a precaution you may still be subjected to additional screening or not allowed through a checkpoint if your items “trigger an alarm during the screening process, appear to have been tampered with, or pose other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.”

Foods to take onboard

There are a variety of healthy options that do not require refrigeration, including:  fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, trail mixes, nut butter sandwiches, whole grain crackers, and pretzels. If you purchase sandwiches, yogurt, and salads at the airport, they require refrigeration and should be eaten shortly after takeoff.

I was so happy with my freezable lunch bag that I purchased several different sizes. Healthy options I’ll pack in it include: cut up raw vegetables, sliced fruits, peeled and sectioned citrus, lowfat cheeses and whole grain crackers, and homemade sandwiches. I enjoy yogurt and yogurt parfaits and with the freezable lunch bag, I can eat them any time during my flight.

Whatever you choose to do, a cache of wholesome food choices will make your flight more pleasant and help you to feel invigorated upon arrival, ready to enjoy your travels.

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