Snacks that can be Packed in Your Carry-On Bag

Take a snack or make a meal: food ideas that you can take though the TSA security points at the airport. 

My husband and I are budget travelers located in the Midwest. Due to our geographical location, we always have the earliest flights out of Kansas City to catch connections. Always.  Also, with us booking the lowest fares possible on airlines, it means we get the craziest the flight times. Getting to the airport before the ticket desks are even open does pose a problem if your stomach is grumbling. Also, with budget cuts on airlines, some airlines either don’t provide a meal or at best provide a snack for purchase.

We have another early morning flight coming up so I started researching different snack ideas for the plane. It’s not that we don’t like the free pretzels provided on flight, but I think we need something more substantial for our journey. The grab and go stand at the gate at MCI has some healthy choices but I don’t like paying premium prices for a bottle of water and a piece of fruit.  Other travelers may want to pack their own snacks because they have special dietary needs, or are traveling with children.


Snacks that can be packed in your carry-on bagWhat is allowed though TSA airport checkpoints?

Below is a list of TSA approved items you can toss in your carry on. Remember to take items that are good to eat at room temperature. Don’t forget to pack an empty water bottle for fill ups after security. Drink lots of water. Pack food in a clear plastic baggies to avoid extra screening at the checkpoints, it’s easier for TSA to see what you have packed. Please be respectful of other travelers and try to avoid any items that have strong smells. Other travelers really don’t want to smell your garlic pita chips.

Cautions for Customs 

If you are taking any of the foods that are considered of an “organic nature,” they are not allowed to be taken from one country to another, regardless of how they are packed. Examples  of these are: meat, dairy, fish, honey, seeds, fruits and vegetables. These items can carry pests and diseases that may destroy crops and livestock and cause problems to public health. Do make sure you eat or toss any items before leaving the plane.

Easy Snack Ideas

  1. Trail Mix
  2. Granola Bars
  3. Protein Bars
  4. Fresh Fruit
  5. Dried Fruit
  6. Nuts
  7. Jerky
  8. Pretzels
  9. Rice cakes
  10. String Cheese
  11. Carrot and Celery Sticks
  12. Cut up Cucumber slices
  13. Cherry Tomatoes
  14. Peeled hard-boiled eggs
  15. Popped popcorn
  16. Baked goods: muffins, banana bread, cookies
  17. Dy cereal
  18. M&M’s – or other chocolates that don’t melt easily
  19. Chex Mix
  20. Energy Balls – a couple of our local supermarkets sell these, or you can make your own

More Complex Snacks

Some items below are approved but must be packed according to adherence  of the 3-1-1 rule. The rule that containers must be 3.4 ounces or less; stored in a 1 quart/liter zip-top bag; 1 zip-top bag per person, and placed in the screening bin.

  1. Dry oatmeal cup (ask the flight attendant nicely for hot water)
  2. Tea bags for making hot tea (ask the flight attendant nicely for hot water)
  3. Hummus – needs to comply with 3-1-1- rule
  4. Nut butters – needs to comply with 3-1-1- rule (pack bread & have a PB sandwich)
  5. Tortilla Chips & Salsa – Salsa would need to comply with 3-1-1- rule
  6. Salads –  The dressing must comply with the 3-1-1 rule and pack a plastic fork.A regular metal flatware fork can only be in your checked bag.
  7. Sandwiches and Wraps: Choose fillings that keep well at room temperature for a while: cheese, cured meats (think prosciutto), vegetables, and greens. To prevent soggy bread, stay away from sliced tomatoes. Mayo packets are fine, if packed with your liquids for the 3-1-1 rule.
  8. Bagel and Cream Cheese – the cream cheese would need to comply with the 3-1-1 rule

I hope these ideas help keep your hunger at bay, save a bit of money and give you more tasty options than a typical airline meal. Also don’t forget to drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated. 

As always, if you have any tips or ideas on what food items you have taken through airport security, please comment and let me know.  Thanks, Tava






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