Personally, I pack food for trips the same way I pack the rest of my things—last-minute and thrown into a bag with no organization whatsoever—so I couldn’t help but wonder…is there a better way to do this? Obviously, the answer is yes. Here, flight attendant Viv, who’s been a flying professionally for six years, shares her fresh food travel tips. (And they aren’t much more difficult to follow than my lazy way of doing things.)
1. Keep things whole
“My biggest tip for keeping food fresh is leaving my vegetables whole when I pack them,” says Viv. “It may take up a little more space than cutting them, but most vegetables don’t need to be refrigerated, and they’ll last on a longer trip.” This also saves space in your cooler, because you don’t need to pack them there unless you eat them and have leftovers (so bring a ziplock bag or two).
2. Use glass jars
The only time she usually preps her veggies is if she’s going on a short, one-to-two day trip. She packs the prepped veggies in glass jars since she can seal them to keep out air and slow down the ripening process.
3. Freeze your food
“To keep my food cold as long as possible on the plane, I usually freeze a couple of yogurts or puddings and put them in my lunchbox,” says Viv. “Works as an ice pack, and you end up with more food when it thaws out!” For longer trips, she preps some meals and freezes them before she leaves as well.
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