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.

For my kids, the coveted food comes in the form of a snack box acquired for six bucks on an airplane. A couple of years ago on a flight to Mexico, 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 minature candy bar. “Why can’t we have that?” they all said, pointing to their enviable neighbor. The sack lunches I had packed for the flight that morning suddenly didn’t seem 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 (the Candies four-inch sandals I wanted in the eighth grade among other things) I could relate.

Since then, I’ve abandoned the standard bagged lunch and devised my own solution to the beguiling airline offerings: the homemade snack box. The night before a flight I assemble an assortment of eats, trying to cover all my bases: five or six little containers, that are moderately nutritious and include something on the crunchy/salty spectrum, a fruit and a vegetable, some protein, and a little treat. And though I’m sure my kids would opt for the airline version over mine any day, they get the feeling of un-wrapping a box of goodies without all the unwanted ingredients. It feels like a very happy medium for me and sets the tone for eating consciously on vacation.

The photos above are examples of the sorts of things I might include in a homemade snack box: fresh and dried fruits, cut up vegetables; nut butter, cheese slices, a small protein bar, yogurt; seasoned seaweed, whole grain crackers, pretzel thins; dark chocolate, an organic lollipop

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  1. Kristin Dickerson
    01.08.2011 at 6:34 AM #

    Hi Katie–
    This article is very inspiring. I laughed, too. You are so right on. Maybe next time
    we fly I can get creative and healthy with the snacks. That’ll be a first for me! Thanks for the great blog.

  2. 02.01.2011 at 2:44 AM #

    I love this idea and I can pack most of it in our http://www.laptoplunches.com/ which are reusable and pvc , free ! thanks for the great idea


  3. Diana
    03.09.2012 at 3:00 PM #

    I love the idea of making it appealing. I need to work on that. I recently was “snack mom” for my son’s soccer team. When I arrived with cinnamon sliced apples (a snack my kids love and they say tastes like apple pie) in clear baggies, several of the boys declined. One of the dads looked at my snacks and said, “You need to work on your packaging!” It’s true. Who can compete with the shiny bright foil wrappers in which most junk food comes?

    • katiemorford
      03.09.2012 at 3:06 PM #

      Good for you for bringing such a wholesome, delicious snack. Yes, hard to compete with billions of dollars of marketing to kids!

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