By Allrecipes Editors
Try this recipe: Toddler Muffins | Photo by Molly

Air travel can be challenging enough for adults; add hungry little kids to the mix and you might swear off traveling altogether. (Sorry, Grandma. Hope you like Skyping.) One thing you can do to make any kind of travel a whole lot easier--and more affordable--is to pack your own travel snacks. Not only will you save money on expensive airport and airline food, you'll also be feeding your littlest travelers healthy meals made with ingredients you feel good about.

We'll take you through how to pack healthy in-flight meals for your youngest travelers, including TSA guidelines for formula, breast milk, and juice.

How to Pack In-Flight Meals for Kids

Traveling with homemade food for your kids saves money and saves you the worry of finding food at the airport or on the airplane that they'll eat. And if you're wondering how to keep homemade food fresh for hours, you'll be glad to know that ice packs are allowed in your carry-on.

Infants

  • 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.

Toddlers

  • 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 no 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.

Traveling with Food

It's always best to check ahead with TSA 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 on board in its original packaging.


See our entire collection of on-the-go recipes.


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