The Best Plane Snacks for Kids

Nutritious ways to keep little fliers well-fed and entertained from takeoff through landing.

December 10, 2019
1142582161

1142582161

Portrait of children eat on the plane

Photo by: Arkady Chubykin/arkadiic@mail.ru

Arkady Chubykin/arkadiic@mail.ru

Get The All-New Food Network Kitchen App

Download Food Network Kitchen now to sign up and take advantage of the latest offer and get 40+ live classes a week, hundreds of on-demand cooking classes, in-app grocery ordering and so much more.

Most younger children get giddy when it's time to get on a plane — but that anticipation may last only the first 10 minutes. Often, kids are ready to arrive at their final destination even before takeoff. So, plane snacks must do double duty as healthy nourishment and in-flight entertainment.

Here are our favorite dietitian-approved foods that are nutritious and fun and will make it through airport security. None of these items need refrigeration (because, while ice packs are allowed by TSA, they must be completely frozen, which is tricky). We've included a few homemade snacks as well as quick-to-grab packaged snacks.

Protein

Peanut, nut or seed butter: A serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons or 1.2 fluid ounces, which easily fits the TSA limit of less than 3.4 ounces of liquid or gel. Scoop a portion of peanut butter into one corner of a zip-top plastic bag; once on the plane, use kids' safety scissors (also allowed if the blades shorter than 4 inches) to snip the plastic bag corner. Then the kids (or you) can squeeze out a thin line of peanut butter "frosting" to decorate crackers with silly faces. Or just pack Justin's Classic Almond Butter or Hazelnut (1.15 ounces) individual packages.

Edamame: Buy these beans frozen in the shell and then pack them in snack bags. Enjoy hours (or minutes) of fun as kids squish the beans out of the shell. A few beans may escape, but most will be eaten.

Meat snacks: Jerky can be too tough for smaller kids to bite. But Vermont Smoke and Cure has Uncured Pepperoni Turkey Sticks and EPIC has breakfast bars like Chicken Egg Yolks and Apple Bar that have good textures for kids.

Fruits and veggies

Trail mix packs: In snack baggies, pack a combo of raisins, dried cranberries and diced prunes such as Amaz!n. On the plane, with a marker, draw sections on a cocktail napkin and have your kids sort each mini piece of fruit into a section.

Fresh fruit and veggies: Don't bring anything round — it will inevitably roll onto the floor and away to the back of the plane. Instead, bring whole bananas, sliced apples, or cucumbers and zucchini cut into stars. About 2 tablespoons of dip is allowed; pack it the same way as the peanut butter mentioned above, or pack individual (1.5 ounces) shelf-stable dipping cups.

Freeze-dried veggies: This is the time to splurge on those fun melt-in-your-mouth freeze-dried veggies such as Thousand Lakes Broccoli Florets (or fruit, like Crispy Green Pineapple). They may be pricey, but not as pricey as anything you'd buy inside the airport.

Dairy

Cheese sticks: Mozzarella cheese sticks are good, but some kids (my own included) don't like the squishy texture of room-temp mozzarella. But they like cheddar at any temperature; our easy-open favorite is Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Snack-Size Bars (0.75 ounce).

Yogurt in squeezable pouches: Those that are less than 3.4 ounces are allowed. GoGo Squeeze has a shelf-stable yogurt that is 3 ounces.

Freeze-dried yogurt: These fun snacks melt in your mouth. Bring two different-colored flavors, like Strawberry and Mixed Berry, to play tic-tac-toe on a napkin.

Grains

Cracker stacker towers: Who can build the taller cracker tower before turbulence makes it all come crashing down? Bring whole-grain crackers and build stacks like cracker-cucumber-cracker-carrot coin-cracker-cheese slice. You get the idea.

No-bake bites: If you have older children, occupy them by having them help the younger ones make quick Healthy Nut Butter Balls while you're packing the last suitcase the night before traveling. To keep them airplane-friendly in the event that another travelers has a nut allergy, swap in sunflower butter. The snacks don't need to be refrigerated and are squishy enough to reshape on the plane so they have a flat bottom and don't roll away. They're a treat for the whole family.

Five tips for savvy-traveler parents

  1. Food liquids and gels must meet the TSA 3-1-1 rule, so pack food liquids in a 1-quart baggie (and toiletries in another baggie). Since each passenger is allowed only one of these baggies, designate the food as your child's.
  2. The TSA agent at your airport has the final say on whether your food items will be allowed. Accept the decision and move on. Travel is stressful enough without conflict.
  3. Bring antibacterial wipes to wipe down the seat and tray table where your child sits. Enough said.
  4. Pack some of your shelf-stable snacks in your checked baggage for the plane ride home. You don't want to spend the last day of vacation shopping for plane snacks.
  5. If you bring peanuts or peanut butter, ask the flight attendant before you unwrap the item if there are any passengers with peanut allergies on board.

Serena Ball, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, food writer and savvy-traveler mom of four children. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com and is the author of the best-selling The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Instagram.

Related Stories:

Next Up

6 Surprising Tips for Cooking with Kids

These tips for getting your whole family cooking may surprise you.

This Class Is Perfect for Kids Who Are Ready to Tackle New Cooking Tasks

Bonus: It’s based on a recipe they’ll love eating, too!

Adorable Thanksgiving Treats Kids Can Make

The cutest treats to keep kids busy on Thanksgiving Day from Food Network and others.

Awesome Ways to Keep Kids Busy During the Holidays

These projects won't make YOU nuts either. Promise.

Easy Breakfast Cookies Kids and Grown-Ups Can Agree On

Who doesn't want to eat cookies in the morning?

Kid-Approved Lunches for the End of the School Year

You know you're counting down the days too.

6 Halloween Treats You Can Make with Kids

Conjure up sweet memories with these spooky recipes.

Latest Stories