Great Kids’ Snacks to Pack for your Flight

To ensure a smooth trip and minimize meltdowns during your next trip, don't leave home without your kids' favourite snacks.

I’m pretty certain two boiled eggs once saved my life, or at least my sanity. My husband and I foolishly imagined that flying across the country to his hometown for Christmas would be a great idea with two young kids in tow. We had however, let it slip our minds that occasionally in winter, it snows. In fact, it blizzards. Even freezing rain happens in winter in Canada. Go figure.

Though a very long series of redirected flights, too numerous to list here (and it was not on this airline), we found ourselves waiting on the tarmac in Montreal, unable to deplane as the plane refueled, and with the planes’ food supply emptied. Anyone with small children knows that, although deicing a child is unnecessary, these little creatures need to be refueled approximately every two hours. 

No sooner, it seemed, had I wiped the sticky residue of fruit bars from their little fingers than they were pulling the headsets from their ears and inquiring, “Mama, can I please have a snack?”

But this time, there was no “please.” In fact, there was nothing calm about their demeanor after nine and a half hours on a flight that was supposed to last four hours. I had run out of games, fruit bars and any modicum of patience I still possessed at hour seven.

So when I reached into my backpack for an aspirin, and my fingers closed around two eggs, lovingly wrapped in paper towel and tucked into the side pocket at the last minute, that I knew we would survive this ordeal.

Two little eggs provided my kids with enough of a distraction while peeling them, as well as a protein-packed snack that settled them down enough to snooze for the rest of the flight.

Why Bring your Own Snacks?

Airline food has evolved tremendously. As long as it’s always available, and exactly what your kids love, great. But as much fun as a new adventure can be for kids, it’s also unsettling for them to be away from their own routines and familiar surroundings. Packing the same snack that they have enjoyed very morning at 10:00 will soothe their little spirits, when of the rest of their surroundings are unfamiliar.

My eldest also doesn’t eat wheat or dairy, so finding food that meets this criteria out “in the real world” is nigh on impossible at the best of times, let alone when you’re late for a flight because your little ones filled their diapers and pants on the way out the door.

What to Bring

I’m sure Cheerios stock jumps 10 per cent every time a baby is born in North America. Pack a few baggies of this parents’ staple, and bring along a few shoelaces, so kids can spend time stringing together necklaces before they munch. As a matter of fact, pack everything you can in ziploc bags, and avoid the bulk of Tupperware.

Just make sure to avoid anything juicy. Apple slices with a squeeze of lemon juice, carrot sticks, cucumber and red pepper sticks pack well. If possible, avoid anything sugar-laden, as sugar and kids in confined spaces are never a good mix.

Foods that can keep little hands busy are a good idea as well. Cheese slices and crackers so they can “make sandwiches,” eggs to peel, or cream cheese with celery sticks for dipping.  You’ll also want to pack things that you can finish up without guilt. Oh, and don’t forget your own napkins.

One time when I was especially creative (I’m sure I’ll never be that organized again) I brought a variety of shapes of fruits and veggies, and my kids made faces on their napkins: Apple slices for ears, red peppers for mouths, grapes for eyes (well, until turbulence made them one-eyed monsters, but you get the point).

Pack One Thing Just for You

We’re not that different from these little creatures, and I am always surprised at how much of a comfort it is to have one of my favourite herbal tea bags to drop into that ubiquitous Styrofoam cup on the plane.

And if my little ones are asleep, I might even sneak into my purse for a square of dark chocolate. Don’t tell on me.

What are your favourite travel snacks? Share your ideas and tips in the comment section below.

Photo #1: Bruce Tuten
Photo #2: Lori Ann
Photo #3: ginnerobot

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Susan Pederson

Susan Pederson is a Calgary-based writer and editor who lives with her husband and two daughters. She has written for Avenue, Homemaker’s, CBC Radio, The Globe and Mail, and Today’s Parent, often with one of her kids dangling from an arm or leg, and from wherever she can steal an Internet connection while travelling.

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