It’s a universal rule of being a kid: no matter what your parents feed you there’s always something better. For me, it was Velveeta mac and cheese from a box. My mother’s homemade version, crusty brown and oozing sharp Cheddar, a dish I now recognize as food nirvana, didn’t measure up when I was 10.

The Coveted Snack Box

For my kids, the coveted food comes in the form of a snack box acquired for eight bucks on an airplane.  On a flight several years ago, my three girls longingly eyed the little boy a row away munching happily on a carton of delightful foodstuffs: a little tub of processed cheese spread, a neat row of salami, a package of buttery crackers, cream-filled cookies, a bag of potato chips, a miniature candy bar. “Why can’t we have that?” they all said, their PB&Js suddenly not so appealing.

I understood. Undoing little parcels of food wrapped tidily in a neat box looked like a lot of fun. Having had my own longing for things my mother was never going to buy me, I could relate. Since then, I’ve devised my own solution to the airline offerings: a homemade snack box. It’s got similar components without all the unwanted ingredients and sets the tone for eating consciously on vacation.

How to Pack a Homemade Snack Box

Healthy Travel Snacks for Kids - Mom's Kitchen Handbook
top left: fresh and dried fruit, top right: protein-rich foods, bottom left: fresh vegetables, bottom right: whole-grain snacks

Choose Your Goods

  1. Pack a fruit — Choose fresh fruit, such as grapes, bananas, or cherries, and/or dried fruit such as dried apples or apricots.
  2. Add a protein-rich food — Include nut or seed butter, peanuts, hummus, cheese, or another protein-rich food that will provide nourishment and staying power.
  3. Choose a favorite vegetable — Add in a munch-worthy vegetable, such as carrots, bell peppers, and snap peas. Bonus points for a dip to go with it. 
  4. Pick out a whole-grain food — Pack crunchy snacks that are nourishing, too. Popcorn, whole-grain crackers, whole-grain pretzels, and granola are a few starter ideas.
  5. Don’t forget a treat — It doesn’t feel like a real snack box without a small goody, such as a piece of dark chocolate, a lollipop, or even a pack of sugarless gum.

Pick the Packaging

You can go a few different way with this:

  1. Pick up an inexpensive bento  — You can find plastic reusable containers at the supermarket that will serve your purpose, are lightweight, and not be so pricey that if they get left in a hotel room it’s the end of the world
  2. Use a reusable bento from home — I like the ones from Lunch Bots. The downside? They’re on the heavy side and they’re expensive, so you’ll want to bring them back home. That said, they might be handy to have for snacks on the road.
  3. Get creative — Use a mash up of little containers, wax bags, and pre-packaged single-serve items (such as single-serve cheeses, packets of peanut butter, or pre-packed carrots and dip) that you pile into a lunch sack and toss at the end of your travels.

Don’t Forget Water

Bringing a reusable water bottle on the road will help with hydration not just on the airplane, but on the trip. Keep your eye out at the airport for water filling stations, which are popping up more and more these days.

healthy snacks on the go