Recently a reader told us that they use our freeze-dried meals to get through the unhealthy, expensive airport food gauntlet when they travel. We thought that was pretty clever since it is generally easy to find hot water – often at no charge. So we did some in-depth thinking about the perils of airport food and how to avoid them.
Restrictions. Travel restrictions severely limit what you can bring with you, which pretty much eliminates all the good stuff in that yummy lunch you were about to pack yourself. Dehydrated food packets are small and pass security checks.
Pre-boarding regulations. These force us to spend a lot more time hanging out in airports these days – and airport managers know it. It seems like every airport in the world suddenly has a cinnamon roll kiosk that smells like Christmas strategically placed at the point where you’re going to feel the most tired and sorry for yourself. If you’ve got a tasty meal with you, you’re less likely to give into temptation while you wait.
Nutritional content. In airport food it can be a mystery, and it’s bad news if you’re watching what you eat (880 calories and 36 grams of fat in that cinnamon roll, by the way). Some airports aren’t so bad – fly through San Francisco and you’ll enjoy some of the best eats in the country. Fly through Detroit and…maybe not so much. Wise Foods proudly displays nutritional content so you can plan your calorie or protein / carbohydrate balance and stay on track.
Limited opportunities. Because you don’t know what you’ll find and where you’ll find it, you may find yourself eating airport food even if you’re not hungry, especially if you know you won’t have another chance for hours. Cook-in-the-pouch meals only take a few minutes and a little hot water to rehydrate.
It’s expensive. (Wait, this deserves emphasis.) It’s EXPENSIVE. A sandwich, chips and drink can cost as much as $20 per person. Although some major airports have adopted “street prices”, a rule that requires restaurants keep neighborhood pricing, most haven’t. They know a hungry, captive customer is a customer who doesn’t have a choice. Dehydrated meals average $1.67 per serving.
Time constraints. You may have to opt for whatever the coffee kiosk at the gate has left, or it might mean you don’t eat at all until you reach your destination. If you have to make a run for it somewhere along the way, you don’t have to skip meals or feel at the mercy of the limited and over-priced snack cart on the plane. Flight attendants usually have a pot of hot water for tea when they come down the aisle offering beverages.
Geographic questionability. This is a term we made up for airports in which we wouldn’t eat anything, no way – no how. Find a tea or coffee shop, ask for a cup of hot water and you won’t have to douse everything in antibacterial gel.
Food safety. When restaurants aren’t catering to returning customers, food safety isn’t as much of a priority. If you’re traveling internationally, especially in developing countries, food freshness and safety can be a big concern. Make sure your water is boiled (or use a water purifying tablet) and you can relax over your Wise dehydrated meal.
Norovirus. Also known as the stomach flu, norovirus is highly contagious and loves to spread through contaminated food. The CDC reported 23 million cases last year, putting norovirus just behind the common cold. Use a cook-in-the pouch meal for your travel days, then pick a reputable restaurant at your leisure on other days.
Traveler’s Tummy. This malady is known by a lot of colorful names but it can be a result of suddenly changing flora in the intestinal tract. A dehydrated meal once a day for the first two or three travel days can help ease the transition to local fare.
Whether you’re traveling for business or for fun, travel days can mean bad news for your wallet and your stomach. Stash a couple of your favorite dehydrated meals in your carry on luggage and you’ll stay in control instead of being at the mercy of the airport food court.