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How to Survive the Food on a Plane

Travel Oct 9, 2015

surviving the food on the plane

I’m writing this post from the plane, so it really couldn’t get more #authentic could it? By some crazy, probably never to be repeated, powers that be, I ended up in the front row  (front of economy that is), with NO ONE in the row around me. Like, literally, in row 59 there is only me. The rest of the plane is full so I have zero idea what’s happening. But I am DEFINITELY not complaining. Anyhoo, moving on to the matter at hand. A lot has been written about what to eat on the plane – most articles veering between abstaining from ALL things served on the plane, or, conversely, how to eat or drink as much free stuff as possible. For me, it’s a little bit of both. No matter what, I’m never going to be able to say no to a tray and those teeny tiny bottles of wine, but I still want to feel healthy when I arrive. Because let’s face it, I’ve just sat on my bum for half a day and probably shouldn’t be eating 15 bread rolls.

What with travelling so much recently, I’ve honed my approach to eating on a plane, and all I can say is: failure to prepare is preparing for failure.

Make it special
Last year, I did a little experiment where every time I flew I ordered a different special meal. I worked my way through raw, gluten free, vegan and just about everything else on the menu. Towards the end of my sojourn I stumbled upon the Vegetarian Indian meal. And wowzer. They were delicious! I mean, curry is pretty much one of the only types of food that can successfully be cooked and then reheated, so is perfect for the plane. What’s even better is that if you’re lucky it will come equipped with yogurt, chutney and a delicious tomato and cucumber salad. And they bring it out first! Now I’m not saying this type of meal is for you, because everyone has different tastes and it will come down to the airline, but it’s definitely worth shopping your special meal menu next time you fly. From a logistical standpoint, make sure to put your special meal in when you buy your flight, often it’s not possible to update your preferences the closer you get to the date.

Go low carb (and low carb-on if you can)
I’m all about the veggies and the protein when I’m on the plane, so I try to leave the rice and bread rolls to one side – it’s sooooo hard to do this sometimes I know. I mean BREAD and BUTTER. But trust me, you’ll feel so much less sluggish when you arrive if you can keep it at arms length. I also try to limit sugar intake when I’m on the plane, but that teeny tiny kit kat won’t kill you. Oh and on the subject of carbs,if you can, opt to offset your carbon emissions!

Snack attack
OMG finally! We’re talking about snacks. There’s something about air travel that makes me so so so hungry. Which is why, even after I’ve inhaled my Indian meal, I’m hungry. This is where your snack pack is going to keep you going – almonds, home made raw chocolate balls, some fruit (the type that won’t squash), apricots and cashews are all great snacks that you can chow down on for a good few hours without overdoing it.

Hell yes H20
The whole water situation on planes is a bit painful these days since not being able to carry liquids to international destinations (for good reason I know, but still). So make sure to bring along a bottle with you and ask the flight attendant to fill it up for you – and drink a good few litres. And BYO fancy tea bags for that ‘I’m on the couch at home’ feel. Another tip my friend gave me recently that was a whole new world for me was to fill a thermos with all the ingredients for a ginger tea – raw ginger slices, lemon, honey and even some mint (sans water naturally). Bring that along with you and then ask the flight attendant to fill up your thermos with hot water when you’re in the air – preferably after your meal when you’re eating your chocolate balls and watching Modern Family. Perfect for relaxing and any pesky upset tummies!

Get in the zone
Meals are like milestones for me throughout the day, which is why I find it slightly perplexing that airlines serve meals that don’t reflect the destination, i.e., breakfast served at your destination’s dinner time. In these cases, particularly for that meal served just before you land, I’ll snack instead of eating a meal (if I can) and then eat once I land. It’s all about getting in the right zone!

With a little preparation, I’ve learnt that the food (and thus, the experience at large) on the plane can be enjoyable. There’s nothing better than learning to enjoy the journey from beginning to end!

Q: What do you like to eat on the plane?

Tags food travel
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