Long-haul Flights and Food Prep – My Tips & Tricks Posted on September 20, 2013

long haulYesterday my fiancé and I embarked on a long haul flight to Canada. It was a lengthy process, especially with a 6 hour delay connecting us from LA to Calgary, so I knew we needed to be prepared on the food front. We love to eat delicious, nourishing foods and when we fly it is no exception. After posting a quick snapshot of the food I had packed, a number of followers on both Facebook and Instagram had loads of questions. I realised there were a number of followers out there who had no idea you could take your own food on the plane, let alone where to start, so let me share all I know and how to make the most out of your long haul flight.

CHOOSE YOUR MEAL BEFOREHAND

Before we board a long haul flight, we always select our preferred meal via ticketing options. We are both intolerant to dairy, so we make sure all of our meals are dairy free. I also don’t like the look of the chicken (usually a little grey) in most meat dishes, so I always opt for the vegetarian options (this is just personal preference and we both agree it makes us feel a whole lot better in the long-run). I have always been cautious about the microwaving of food on the plane, and recently was wrapped to see that Virgin Australia has now included a Raw Vegan menu option. Hooray! Check with your airline next time you travel to see what best suits you – you will be surprised at how many options there actually are.

KNOW WHAT YOU CAN TAKE ON BOARD

Many people worry that taking your own food on the plane will breach customs laws. This is only the case if you take them off the plane when you land. All fruits and vegetables, meats and other perishables need to be disposed of on-board and your host/hostess will happily oblige. Nuts, snack bars (like our LuvJu’s and Conscious Chocolate squares) can be taken off the plane if and only if you declare them once you arrive (this was the case in the US and Canada with no qualms at all). All liquids over 100ml, need to be left at the security gate – water included.

WHAT TO BUY POST-SECURITY SCAN

Because you have to dispose of all water bottles at the security scan (on international flights only – I take my 1L water bottle on domestic flights without any problems), I will make sure we pick up a large bottle of water before we board. This means we don’t have to wait for staff to re-fill our water cups and we can ensure we stay hydrated without any problems at all.

HOW I STRUCTURE OUR LONG HAUL MEALS

The biggest mistake most people make when taking food on long-haul flights is taking too much. Think about how many meals you are going to require on board and how many snacks. Remember, you are sitting down for 99% of the time conserving energy – you will need much less than you do at home.

For me, when I travel I like to eat lightly and I like to consume foods that make me feel good. As a result, I make sure we pack a salad full of greens and other vegetables. As many of you also know, I have an obsession with strawberries, so if they are in season I will pack some strawberries and blueberries as well (these have to be eaten early on in the flight, I pull them out at the first meal). Make sure you store them in an air-tight container. Any fruit will work well in this instance, so don’t be afraid, I would just steer away from citrus, as the smell tends to waft through the cabin. Avocados are a must on board, this works really well with any meal and adds some nourishing fats to keep you fuller for longer. I also like to add some pasture-fed free range eggs for protein. If you boil them, peel them before you jump on board as they can carry a smell).

To snack on, Andrew (and so did our hostess!) loves the cacao energy balls (recipe can be found here). I like to add a superfood hit to my journey so I will take some Loving Earth LuvJu bars (these are great because they can be taken off the plane if sealed also). We also like to take a small block of chocolate with us to sweeten our stop-overs, Pana Chocolate is our personal favourite. Activated nuts are always with us, no matter where we go – remember to declare them once you land (if you have any left).

For extra minerals and effective re-hydration, I will take a small container of Himalayan rock salt with us. I add this to our water bottle (just a pinch), and it ensures we absorb water easily, sometimes I even sprinkle this on our meals if I have any left over.

For those of you who know me well, you will know I am slightly obsessed with herbal tea and I make sure I pack my own tea-bags to get across the ocean. I love taking different flavours and they store really well in an zip-lock bag and weigh next to nothing. Pukkah Tea has a great variety of naturally sweet flavours. I just ask the hostess for a cup of hot water when they are on the tea and coffee rounds.

KEEPING THINGS COLD

Unfortunately the staff on board your flight can’t pop your food into a fridge for you due to rules and regulation surrounding contamination, so we take a small cold pack (you know the school lunchbox varieties available from Big W or Kmart for around $10). It keeps already cold food cool for an hour or two and then we just ask airline staff for some ice to add the bag and it works a treat.

SHOW SOME RESTRAINT

When that tray of pre-prepared food is placed in front of you, read the food labels carefully. Avoid the added preservatives and additives wherever you can. More often than not, this usually means throwing out your included dessert but not to worry, opt for one of those cacao balls instead.

Alcohol and coffee, although complimentary are extremely dehydrating and coupled with a long haul flight can cause all sorts of dramas. I personally choose to avoid these drinks prior to or during any flight for that reason alone. Sip on a cocktail or two once you arrive at your destination instead.

BEFORE YOU BOARD

When travelling on a long-haul flight we are exposed to a whole lot of germs in a short space of time. I like to ensure I go in with a fighting chance and as such, opt for a nutrient rich breakfast that morning, this usually means an organic green juice with added Camu Camu or Gubinge powder for a natural Vitamin C boost and/or a plate of organic vegetables with a healthy protein source. It is also a great idea to restrict your sugar intake before you board to help you fall asleep more easily.

Whilst this sounds like a lot of preparation, I can assure you that it is really quite simple. All you have to commit to is just the one time, after that you will be a committed devotee. It is 100% worth it.

Do you take your own food on flights? If so, I would love to hear your foodie ideas and tips! Please be sure to post them below.


Written by Alyse Co-cliff

Alyse Co-cliff

Founder of 'An Apple a Day', certified holistic health coach, author, speaker and passionate whole-foodie committed to helping others nourish their body from the inside out. "It's all about simple and effective advice, coupled with real time solutions for the busy individual. Good health doesn't have to be hard work" Alyse x



10 thoughts on “Long-haul Flights and Food Prep – My Tips & Tricks

  1. Jo Matthews

    I did it recently for the first time, after my PT suggested it to me. Steamed veg with some roast chicken, gluten and dairy free banana and blueberry pikelets, cacao balls, a couple of boiled eggs, green apples and some nuts all worked well. I put mine food small chinese plastic containers & zip lock bags so I didn’t have to worry about carrying containers around with me and just bought a couple for the return journey. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Definitely the way to go and not only did I know exactly what I was eating and I felt so much better when I arrived.

  2. Jaclyn

    I usually bring fruits and nuts, some sliced apples, banana or dried fruits. I love fruits, especially apples, because it keeps me hydrated, too. My sister also bakes a batch of chocolate cookie nibblers for me, which is usually helpful when I’m craving for something sweet.

    In the US, when I travel domestic, I usually bring a peanut butter and banana sandwich to keep me full until I land.

    And I always grab a cup of tea when I’m up on the air. I always get headaches when I fly and tea keeps it away, as well as the nausea.

  3. Tina

    Did you request a special permit to board with food? They generally want you to buy their pricey junk right before acceding the departure gate

    1. Alyse Post author

      Tina, not at all. You are welcome to bring your own food on board as long as you don’t take liquids greater than 100ml internationally, just ask Lauren (see other comments)

  4. Lauren

    As airline crew it’s never an issue for people to byo food. Flying international liquids would cause a problem like soups etc

  5. Jaq

    I bring food on the plane, too. But that being said, you also need to check the rules of the countries you’re going to. Some countries, you can’t bring raw or seeds/grains (superfoods, usually). If you’re bringing those in, make sure you finish before landing or you’ll have to throw it away before customs.

    1. Alyse Post author

      Jac you’re exactly right, whatever you do take in make sure you declare it at customs and they will let you know what you can or can’t take in x

  6. Clare

    You’re seriously so in tune with me! You’re posts often have relevance to my daily life! Love it! Keep sharing 🙂

  7. Alanna Piotrowski

    We’re getting ready to head to Hawaii this weekend for our honeymoon so I’m trying to stock up on snacks for the trip. We leave Adelaide at 11am and head to Sydney. 4 hour layover there (we’ll have airport food for lunch I imagine) and then we jump on our international flight at about 6pm. We get dinner on the plane (blah!) and then I’m hoping to just sleep for most of the flight – but snacks still come in handy!

    Is it true for all packaged food that we don’t need to ditch it if it hasn’t been opened? If so, I’ll stock up on some pre-packaged snacks (although more expensive) so that way if we don’t eat them, we still have them for the trip and the flight home.

    Regarding the water – I thought you were able to carry an empty water bottle through the screening point, then fill it up when through. If this is the case, will I have to throw out my water bottle when I get to Hawaii? Or just empty it?

    Thanks for your tips!

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