As we head into the long holiday weekend, we’re reminded of the time our co-founders Merrill Stubbs and Amanda Hesser jetted off to Japan on a 14-hour flight—and the magical Mary Poppins bag of plane snacks that Merrill packed. We asked her how she managed to plan such a feast. Here are her tips.
Merrill's 10 Commandments of Eating While Traveling
Plan your picnic ahead of time and buy as much as you can before you hit the road/air. You'll be less stressed, and odds are you'll spend less and end up with much better options. A wedge of good cheese and a baguette can easily be shared among three or four people and should set you back less than two soggy airport sandwiches.
Choose items that can last for a while at room temperature without suffering (e.g. cured meats instead of fresh, crackers instead of bread, hard cheeses instead of soft). Even for a short flight, you'll need to account for the additional time spent getting to/from the airport, going through security, etc.
Plan for several mini meals instead of one or two large ones. We (and our kids) tend to get peckish while traveling—normally we're not proponents of eating out of boredom, but these are extraordinary circumstances!
Pack your food in appropriate containers. Either use disposables like foil or old deli containers that you can toss immediately, or—even better—reusable bags that you can wash and press into service during your trip (we take lots of these silicone bags, which can hold snacks for our kids throughout the trip—also great for wet bathing suits!).
Include a couple of special treats—now's the perfect time to splurge on those fancy Italian chocolates or handmade spelt crackers you've been eyeing.
Focus on things that don't require utensils, or a transfer from one container to another. Dried fruit, nuts and seeds, cut up veggies, and homemade pita chips and hummus are all good options.
Pack things that range the full flavor spectrum to keep things interesting (see #3 re: boredom above). This will also help you avoid eating too much salt, which can cause uncomfortable fluid retention.
Opt for assertive flavors (olives, herbed or wheaty crackers instead of plain, aged cheeses). Your tastebuds are less sensitive when traveling, for a whole host of reasons, so you'll want to stay away from bland foods.
Eat the most perishable items first, and work towards the least perishable. If you only get part-way through that prosciutto and fontina baguette with arugula or you're left with a bunch of battered bananas, those will have to go straight in the trash when you land. Leftover nuts or rice crackers will last you the rest of the trip.
Pack some napkins and wet wipes. If you bring delicate produce like tomatoes, peaches or plums, wrap the fruit carefully in the napkins to keep them from bruising or splitting.
A peek inside Merrill's snack bag.
This Is Good, Too
What snacks do you pack while traveling? Let us know in the comments below.