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.
- 1. 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.
- 2. 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.
- 3. 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!
- 4. 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!).
- 5. 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.
- 6. 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.
- 7. 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.
- 8. Opt for assertive flavors (olives, herbed or wheaty crackers instead of plain, aged cheeses). Your taste buds are less sensitive when traveling, for a whole host of reasons, so you'll want to stay away from bland foods.
- 9. 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.
- 10. 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.
1. Blueberry, Oatmeal & Flaxseed Muffins
Make a batch of Merrill's blueberry muffins with hearty oatmeal and flaxseed and pack everyone on your trip at least two, because eating just one simply isn't an option.
According to our resident Genius, Kristen Miglore, "This is going to be the best granola you've had in your whole dang life." So yeah, you're probably going to want to pack more than a few bags of this for your next flight.
3. Pan Bagnat: Le French Tuna Salad Sandwich
We bet you'll be feeling pretty good about yourself for making this tasty-meets-easy French tuna salad sandwich when the flight attendants start handing out those aluminum foil meals.
4. Italian Snacking Bread
Whether you're headed to Italy or not, this Italian snacking bread—a type of flatbread topped with anchovies, olives, and onions—makes the perfect plus-one for lengthy flights.
5. Shichimi Togarashi Granola
You could sprinkle this savory granola—made with shichimi togarashi, a highly craveable Japanese spice blend—over a salad or even soy sauce-drizzled rice, but we like it best eaten straight as a snack.
6. Malted Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars
If you (or any of your fellow travelers) have a sweet tooth, make sure these malted chocolate chunk cookie-meets-brownie bars tag along with you on your trip.
7. Wasabi Pea Snack Mix
This spicy-salty mix combines all of your favorite crunchy snacks—homemade wasabi peas, Rice Chex, cheese crackers, and yes, even Fritos—to create something that is blissfully addictive.
8. Around-the-World Coconut Popcorn Mix
This popcorn's creator describes this one-of-a-kind mix "like Cracker Jacks gone wild" and we'd have to agree. Packed with big flavors (coconut oil, Thai chile peppers, and lime zest for starters), every bite of this popcorn is a little bit different than the last in the best way possible.
9. Slab Muffuletta
This family-friendly slab muffuletta travels like a dream and—thanks to tangy olives and capers, savory Italian meats, and our fluffiest-ever focaccia recipe—tastes even dreamier.
10. No-Mayo Peperonata Pasta Salad
If you've ever been skeptical of pasta salad, meet the recipe that will turn you into a believer. A riff on peperonata (a traditional Southern Italian side dish of sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes sautéed in olive oil), this pasta salad hits all the right flavor/texture notes and tastes best at room temperature—perfect for travel.
11. Magical, Marvelous, Memorable Cookies
Easily our most popular cookie recipe of all time, these triple-M cookies are soft and chewy out of the oven and perfectly crunchy-crispy after they cool down (aka when you're on the plane).