Whether you are traveling for work or pleasure, one of the most challenging aspects travel is eating right on the go. Healthy food options can be limited, and convenience often takes precedence over a balanced meal or snack. From rushed fast food in the airports to high-fat, sugary, sodium-laden meals on the flight, maintaining your goals, energy, and mood can be difficult! Not to worry: when you bring your own healthy travel snacks for the plane, you can prevent diet sabotage, save money, and… enjoy a delicious treat!

For health-conscious travelers, opting to pack snacks to bring with you, and forego airplane food, is the best way to ensure you have the high-protein snacks that you want. In this blog post, we'll explore the best high-protein airplane snacks, along with TSA guidelines and frequently asked questions to ensure a seamless travel experience that meets your protein goals.

Understanding TSA Guidelines for Snacks

  1. Solid Foods Are Generally Allowed: The good news is that solid food items, including bringing your own snacks, are generally allowed through TSA security checkpoints. This includes a variety of high-protein options like nuts, seeds, and more.
  2. Liquid and Gel Restrictions: While solid foods are permissible, it's crucial to be mindful of liquid and gel restrictions. TSA follows the 3-1-1 rule for liquids and gels, meaning that each passenger can bring a quart-sized bag containing liquids in containers of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. This rule primarily applies to beverages, sauces, and other liquid-based snacks.
  3. Packaging Matters: The packaging of your snacks can impact the screening process. Opt for snacks in sealed and airtight containers to prevent spillage or contamination. Consider using resealable bags or containers that can easily be opened for inspection if needed.
  4. Avoid Messy Snacks: TSA recommends avoiding overly messy or crumbly snacks that could create a mess while you're in flight. Opt for snacks that are easy to handle and won't cause delays or disruptions when you land at your destination.
  5. Homemade Snacks: When in search of the best airplane snacks, if homemade snacks are your go-to, don't worry - they are usually allowed on board. However, remember the guidelines mentioned above, especially regarding liquids and potential messiness.

When in doubt, check your airport's TSA guidelines before you embark on your trip. It will give you and your healthy snacks peace of mind.

Tips for a Hassle-Free TSA Screening Process

To make your security screening process as smooth as possible, consider the following tips:

  • Pre-Packaged Snacks: Choose snacks that are already in their own single servingwhenever possible. These items often come in travel-friendly, TSA-approved packaging.
  • Non-Liquid Options: Opt for non-liquid snacks to avoid the 3-1-1 rule restrictions. This includes items like granola bars, dried fruits, and nuts.
  • Review TSA's Official Guidelines: Before packing your snacks, review TSA's official guidelines on their website for the most up-to-date information. This will help you stay informed about any changes in regulations.

By being mindful of TSA guidelines for snacks, you can ensure that your in-flight snacking experience is not only enjoyable but also complies with the necessary security measures. This way, you can focus on savoring your high-protein treats without any unnecessary delays or complications.

Our Top Picks for High-Protein Airplane Snacks

1. Seeds and Nuts

A mix of seeds and nuts is a perfect snack for sustained energy. Packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, they're easy to carry and munch on during the flight.

Try sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin seeds (or a DIY mix of your own creation). The best part is almost all of these come in single serving nut packs that you can easily grab and throw in your bag.

And if you want to go a little wild, opt for dark chocolate-covered nuts for a little sweet, antioxidant, mood-boosting action. 

2. Roasted Chick Pea Packs

Roasted chickpeas offer a crunchy alternative with a protein punch. They come in various flavors, adding a tasty twist to your in-flight snacking. Yummy, convenient, and full of plant-based protein.

3. Protein Bars

Compact and convenient, protein bars are a go-to option. Choose bars with a good balance of protein and low sugar content for a satisfying yet healthy treat.

This is a quick and easy snack to pack away in your carry on bag. Go for low-sugar options that pack in the protein (~10-15 grams) and feature all-natural ingredients. 

4. Dried Oatmeal Cups

For a heartier snack, consider dried oatmeal cups. You can add hot water on the plane, just ask your flight attendant for some hot water during meal or snack service.

There are about 6 grams of protein per cooked cup, depending on the option you buy, and you can add flax seeds, chia seeds, dried cranberries, nuts, protein powder, or a swirl of nut butter to boost the nutrition even more.

5. Peanut or Nut Butter Sandwiches

 If you pre-make your sandwich, make sure to wrap it. TSA also allows you to bring loaves or slices of store-bought and homemade breads, so you can assemble your snack in the air too.

Note: A lot of planes have stopped serving peanut products due to many people having peanut allergies. While peanut butter is a great source of protein, it is smart to keep in mind that your peanut butter airplane snack may have to be enjoyed pre-flight to account for anyone with severe peanut allergies.

6. Peanut or Nut Butter Packs

Single-serving packs of peanut or nut butter are not only delicious but also a great source of protein. Pair them with whole-grain crackers for a satisfying snack.

These are ultra-easy on-the-go snacks. Eat them by themselves, or spread them on apple slices, bananas, or even rice cakes. You can purchase packets of almond butter, peanut butter, or cashew butter from your local grocery store in the peanut butter aisle.

7. Salad

Yes, salad clears security if it’s made with lettuce, kale, spinach, and other solid foods. Put your dressing in a small separate container with a secure lid (no more than 3.4 ounces). You can also bring meat on board, so add some turkey or chicken for protein.

Pre-packaged salads with lean proteins like grilled chicken or tofu can be a refreshing and nutritious choice.

8. Instant Lentil and Quinoa Salad

These ready-to-eat salads are a fantastic option for a protein-packed, flavorful meal in the air.

Like oatmeal, you can find these in a “cup of soup” style pre-made container. All you have to do is add hot water on the plane and enjoy. 

9. Cheese Sticks

Who doesn’t love string cheese? Pack a few in your bag, and chow down on some protein and dairy. They’re great with fruit and veggie slices too.

Individually wrapped cheese sticks are a convenient way to get your protein fix and satisfy your snack cravings.

10. FATTYs

With all-natural ingredients and 13 grams of protein in a 2 ounce package, FATTY smoked meat sticks are one of our favorite high protein snacks for air travel. They are available in Original, Jalapeno, Honey BBQ, and Teriyaki, as well as 1 ounce and turkey options.

For a bigger snack, pair your meat stick with some cheese, nuts and seeds, or other goodies you have in your bag.

This creative combination of fruits and almonds provides a mix of natural sugars, healthy fats, and protein for a well-rounded snack.

11. Hummus and Crackers

Single-serving hummus packs paired with whole-grain crackers offer a tasty and protein-rich option. If you want a carb-friendly option, try baby carrots or carrot chips!

12. Dried Fruit and Nuts

For a delightful blend of sweetness and crunch, consider packing a mix of dried fruits and nuts. The natural sugars from the dried fruits complement the protein in the nuts, creating a satisfying and energy-boosting snack that's perfect for long flights.

13. Yogurt Tubes

Yogurt tubes are a convenient and mess-free way to enjoy a dose of protein and probiotics. Packed with the goodness of yogurt, these tubes are easy to carry and make for a refreshing in-flight snack.

Snacks Available at the Airport

If you forget to pack your high-protein snacks, don't worry. Some of our favorite airplane snacks can be found right at the airport. Many airports offer a variety of protein-rich options, including yogurt, snack bars, and deli-style protein boxes. Here is a quick list of great plane snacks:

  • Animal Crackers
  • Trail Mix
  • Tuna Salad
  • Beef Jerky
  • Traditional Potato chips
  • Dried Fruits
    • Dried Apricots, dried mango, died apples and bananas
  • Real Whole Fruit
  • Granola Bars
  • Veggie Chips
  • Hard-boiled eggs

FAQs

Are protein snacks allowed through airport security?

Yes, protein snacks are allowed through airport security. However, it's essential to follow TSA guidelines and choose snacks that meet security regulations.

What are the TSA rules for bringing food on a plane, especially protein snacks?

TSA allows solid food items through security checkpoints, including high-protein snacks. However, liquids and gels are subject to the 3-1-1 rule, so choose non-liquid options whenever possible.

Can I bring homemade protein snacks on the plane?

Yes, you can bring homemade protein snacks on the plane, but be mindful of TSA guidelines. Avoid liquids, gels, or overly messy snacks to make the security screening process smoother.

How can I ensure my protein snacks stay fresh during a long flight?

Opt for sealed and airtight packaging to keep your snacks fresh. Avoid items that can easily spoil or become messy, and consider using a small cooler or insulated bag for perishable items.

Final Thoughts

Choosing high-protein snacks for your next flight is a smart and healthy decision. Not only will these snacks keep you energized throughout your journey, but they also make for a delicious and satisfying in-flight experience. Remember to plan ahead, follow TSA guidelines, and enjoy your travels with the perfect protein-packed snacks in hand.

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Safe travels and happy snacking!