Buying food on board (or at the airport) means high prices and a limited selection, and even if free kids' meals are available, I can never be sure what those meals will contain. A stash of snacks also help when you're waiting around in airports.
I put most snacks into reusable, crush- and crunch-proof containers before packing them in my hand luggage. Right now I'm using the Lock & Lock containers, since they're sturdy and easy for my kids to open and close on their own, but there are many brands that fit the bill.
Here are some ideas on good snacks to bring on board:
- Granola bars or power bars - Just pick something that is not covered in chocolate (since the chocolate will inevitably melt in your child's hand and cause a mess).
- Crackers - My kids especially like the old standby goldfish crackers, and Breton's mini crackers.
- Pretzels - Alphabet pretzels for added educational value!
- Pocky sticks - These come in a wide variety of flavors including strawberry, pumpkin (!), caramel and more. They're tasty and nicely packaged for travel.
- Raisins - A classic snack. Mix it up with other dried fruits and berries if your kids like them, like dried peaches, apricots, mango, blueberries and cranberries for example.
- Rice cakes - Mini rice cakes are nice for kids and there are lots of brands and varieties to choose from.
- Jerky - My kids won't touch this stuff, but I know kids who absolutely love beef jerky and pepperoni sticks.
- Trail mix - Pick a trail mix without chocolate chips to avoid melty chocolate problems.
- Dry cereal - Cheerios for example.
- Muffins - Put these in a container so they don't get squashed in your hand luggage.
- Fresh fruit & veggies - Whole apples, bananas, cut-up carrots... there's a lot to choose from. One thing to consider: some countries do not allow you to bring fresh fruit and vegetables across their borders. Also, make sure the fruit doesn't get bruised when you transport it: a banana keeper or banana saver container can really help for example.
- Baby cereal - If you're traveling with a baby or toddler, you might want to bring this along for snack and meal-time. You can usually get hot or cold water on the plane, and as long as you have a spoon and a small container to mix it in and serve it from, you're all set. For kids who are a little bit older, the instant oatmeal packets that only need to be mixed with hot water could also work as an on-board snack.
Once you're inside security, many airports now allow you to buy food of any kind and bring it on board with you, including the "liquidy" foods I just mentioned.
For more on food and snacks on board, you can read my old post Food and snacks for traveling kids.