31 Easy & Healthy Flight Attendant Meal Prep Ideas

In my country, Spain, we have a saying: De la panza sale la danza, which translates into English as, “From the stomach comes the dance”. Which means that you need to eat well to do other things well. And that is especially true of flight attendants.

We need to eat well to work well.

But figuring out how to meal prep for a 3 day trip as a flight attendant, how to eat better, pack your food, save space and keep your food cold is a huuuge challenge.

So today we are going to talk about preparing food that is healthy, great to eat, and, above all, easy to create.

I’ve put together these ideas from my own experience and tastes to help guide and inspire you, so let’s get started!

 

Great Meal Ideas To Get Your Imagination Going

BREAKFAST IDEAS

Protein shake and fruit

Protein shakes are, in my opinion, a must in the flight attendant’s go-to meal ideas.

They are easy to eat on the go, they are packed with as much nutrition as you care to pack into them (this one includes vanilla powder, for example) and who doesn’t have child-like fun when they get to throw stuff into a blender?

Açai cup with red fruits

For those of you who haven’t tried an Açai bowl – a culinary creation that originates in Brazil, give it a go.

Açai berries are different, some say a blackberry with a hint of dark chocolate, you won’t be able to get these fresh, but they are well worth trying out.

Nobody, but nobody, but nobody could ever accuse flight attendants of not being adventurous.

Waffles with honey

 

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Waffles are a great standby that lend themselves to heaps of ideas.

Maple syrup instead of honey? Thick cream? Sweetened yogurt.

For the under-pressure flight attendant, a meal that starts with waffles and builds from there is a very simple and tasty idea.

Oatmeal with berries

 

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The blackberries in this can easily be substituted by others of your choice, but do combine well with the creamy oatmeal.

Just a tip, fellow FA’s, there is absolutely nothing wrong with frozen berries, they can lose a bit of texture, but they are often a fresher choice than those that have been sitting on the supermarket shelf.

And they are easier and quicker to use.

Oatmeal, yogurt, peanut butter and red fruits

This can be easily made and put in a jar, both for storage in the fridge and for eating from.

It isn’t the most delicate-looking arrangement, but it’s packed full of flavor and needs only a spoon to access all the goodies inside.

Oatmeal with granola, chocolate, protein powder

This is the sort of thing that is needed for long-haul flights, it’s a combination full of interest and energy.

If you have a sweet tooth, maybe add some honey to raise the richness of the chocolate flavor?

As I say, not a usual oatmeal combination, but a very worthy one.

Greek yogurt, raspberries and honey

Greek yogurt and honey is a marriage made in heaven, add some raspberries and you’ve lifted it to another level.

The prep time on this dish is given as 6 minutes.

Six minutes for a spot of health and happiness in your day is a short time very well spent.

Chia pudding with berries

Healthy and quick to assemble, this is a simple to assemble dish for when you are having one of those ‘I haven’t got time’ days.

LUNCH AND DINNER IDEAS WITH RICE/QUINOA

Chicken teriyaki rice bowl

 

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Okay, so this is perhaps not a surprise to many of you, but don’t ignore the traditional, they are reliable and tasty and are still with us because of that.

A great standby for FAs who just want a meal of the familiar.

Quinoa veggie mix

Versatility married to color and texture makes quinoa a star ingredient for many salads and mixes.

It’s a great flavor carrier, so don’t be afraid to make it with the stock that suits your taste buds most.

Quinoa taco salad

Colorful happiness in a container and as they, lots of color means lots of nutrition.

The crispiness of the corn chips is a great contrast.

This ancient grain never ceases to surprise with its versatility and usefulness.

Not unlike a flight attendant, really.

Pepper steak stir fry rice

A bit more of a substantial meal, but it still only takes about 20 – 25  minutes to prep and cook.

It’s kind of like your own take-out but with bags and more flavor.

Chicken curry with spinach

Curry freezes very well, so make a good batch and split it into separate bags, then all you’ll have to do is cook off some rice, wilt some spinach (which will take four minutes max) and put everything in your lunch box.

Job done!

IDEAS WITH WRAPS

Scrambled eggs and bacon

Perhaps a little more involved in terms of preparation, but this wrap really is a meal on the run.

Just remember that scrambled eggs don’t like being heated too quickly or too high.

Eggs bacon and cheese – lots of protein – a lovely tortilla wrap – good amount of carbs. Perfect!

Smoked salmon and cream cheese

Go on, treat yourself, you deserve it! I keep saying that we need to look after our health by eating properly and that includes our mental well-being.

This is the sort of food that you really should include in your repertoire, simply because it is telling you that you deserve to be treated.

The lemon dill cream cheese spread really makes this special.

Oh, and the salmon, of course.

Chicken, lettuce, and ranch dressing

Okay, not as luxurious as the salmon wrap, but this quickly put together standby is reliably enjoyable and satisfying.

Its simplicity is its strength.

Feta cheese, hummus dip, garlic spread

 

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This is one from the deli section of your favorite supermarket. You can keep everything in the original containers and then simply create your wrap on the fly.

The beauty is that you can get yourself enough goodies to make more than enough for a long flight.

Sorry about the bad pun.

BLT – Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato

This is, without doubt, a classic, whether it’s in sandwich form or in a wrap.

I recommend making the bacon crispy, I think it works better that way.

But that’s just personal taste. It’s your bacon, your wrap, you do whatever you want and enjoy.

IDEAS WITH PASTA

Pasta with feta cheese and aubergine

This is one of those ‘treat yourself’ dishes I was talking about.

The salty creaminess of feta, the flavour carrying texture of the aubergine, this is fork food at its best.

Or with a spoon and fork if you are eating with other crew members and want to remain looking sophisticated.

Simple, plain pasta salad

This should be another staple in your playbook.

It’s quick and simple, but it can be jazzed up with very little effort.

Avocado anyone?

Cherry tomatoes work best in this – they hold their shape and their juice better than sliced or diced tomatoes.

Mushroom pasta with pesto

This does involve making a sauce, but the trick is to make a batch that you can use for other dishes as well.

This will save you time and money, two things that us flight attendants always like more of.

Nowadays there are so many varieties of mushrooms available that you can go basic or really fancy.

Pasta bolognese

This is another dish where it’s a good idea to make a good sized batch of sauce and freeze down whatever you don’t use for your flight.

Pasta takes minutes to boil, the precooked sauce can be spooned over the top – job done!

SNACKS, SNACKS, SNACKS

Carrots, cucumbers with hummus

This is a lift the lid, help yourself to a quick bite and get back to cabin service type of meal.

The hummus adds flavor and bulk to the carrots and cucumber.

Brie and crackers

Brie and cranberry sauce, never tried it?

You’ll love it!

The crunchy texture of the cracker, the smooth creaminess of the brie and the sweetness of the cranberry sauce make for a wonderful taste explosion.

And if you get called back to the cabin suddenly, you can pop the whole thing in your mouth and deal to it!

Edamame

 

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These immature soybeans are packed full of vitamins (the folate content alone is more than that of your daily needs) and actually take no more prepping than simply boiling them in the shells.

Popular in Sushi bars, the beans can be eaten directly from the shell.

Perhaps not elegant, but a seriously worthy snack food for busy FAs.

Greek yogurt

 

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When thinking of snack food, don’t forget the little tubs and bottles that are full of tasty goodies.

One of these is Greek yogurt.

It’s wonderful by itself and takes no more effort than packing in with your food and taking the lid off when you want to eat.

Oh, and a small spoon could be handy.

Instant oatmeal

 

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Okay, not glamorous, but very, very handy.

The clue for its convenience is in the name.

Oatmeal is, as we all know, great for fiber and, dare I say it, regularity, something that we can all agree is very important for us cabin crew.

Salami, cheese, and breadsticks

 

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Absolutely no prep needed, so this is a convenience plus snack assortment.

Salami comes in so many types that the hardest work is making your choice!

Mixed nuts

Mix some dried fruit – apricots, raisins, sultanas etc – and you have an energy pick me up that is so familiar to trampers and hikers and that many call scroggin.

Humble maybe, but put some in your bag and you have a go to snack at the ready.

Peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets

 

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A bit of fun, this.

What’s wrong with having a bag of something tasty and different that you can dip your hand into for a quick bite?

Mango with tajin

 

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This Mexican seasoning does something to mango chunks that almost equates as sexy.

It really is a flavor contrast that works.

Get onto the internet and find out how to easily cut up a mango into cubes – it’s fun and very, very decorative if left in the skin.

 

Okay, so now that you can see a world of possibilities that will lift your meals to the next level, let’s talk about clever ways to create them easily.

Planning and Preparation Tips and Tricks

Plan ahead. Please plan ahead

First, you need to know what meals you want to prep: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

How many items you will make, what do you want to eat, and more importantly what do have available and on hand.

My tip: Keep it simple. Better to start with recipes you know how to make and not to get overwhelmed by the fancy and the complicated.

Write a grocery list

Calculate the quantity and list the items that you want.

This will help you avoid impulse buys and keep your focus on the stuff that you really need.

Plus you’ll save time and remember what items to shop for.

Five minutes writing a list can save 30 minutes in the supermarket wondering what to get.

Mise en place: What is it and why will it help?

Okay, we’ve spoken about planning and how important it is, so now let’s talk about preparation.

As all young chefs are told on day one of their training, without mise en place you will never be able to successfully put good food on a plate.

So what is it?

It simply means, ‘put in place’, to get everything ready that you need to work with.

Everything should be laid out, including all your ingredients, so that you aren’t wasting time going backwards and forwards all over the kitchen.

Let’s take a look at one of the meals above and look at the prep (mise en place) you do before you actually make the dish.

Example: Pasta salad with feta cheese and aubergine

I’m not giving you the recipe for this lovely dish, just an idea on how to save time making it.

What equipment do you need?

Pots?

Strainer?

Pasta tongs or slotted spoon?

Containers for storage?

Knife for slicing?

Chopping board?

Do the same with the ingredients.

Pasta, feta, aubergines, salt, sliced black olives?

Lay everything out on your bench and do your preparation, your chopping, slicing, etc. and only then start cooking.

I guarantee that by doing things this way, you will save at least 20% of your time.

You will also find yourself getting inspiration as you look at all the laid out ingredients.

What about a touch of oregano or sun-dried tomatoes, would either of those add interest to the dish?

My Tip: Batch cooking

Ok, so you’ve got all the equipment out ready to cook and you’re about to get all the ingredients lined up, why not think about doing some bulk cookery for the freezer?

Curry for 10 servings won’t take much longer than just cooking for 1 serving and it works out to be cheaper (less power, cheaper bulk ingredients, etc). Pasta is the same.

Don’t feel like doing the whole meal just yet?

How about that lovely bolognaise sauce you make?

Why not cook up a batch and lay it down in the freezer so that it’s ready when you are?

If you are going to prep for one meal, think about prepping for more.

As a flight attendant, you know just how precious time can be when you aren’t working, so save it when you can.

Mix and match

Preparing a base like rice, pasta, quinoa, tortilla wraps, salads, couscous, omelets, etc. allows you to mix and match different meals throughout the week, giving for more variety in your diet.

Try doing similar meals in different ways.

For example: cooking different styles of rice, – cheesy broccoli rice, fried rice with veggies, rice salad, curry rice with chicken, mushroom risotto, etc.

Or put anything in a tortilla! Tortillas are Mexico’s gift to the food world – they are quick, easy and so tasty!

Add any proteins or veggies

You really need protein, so make sure to include some for most meals: chicken, ground beef, salmon, tuna, pork, turkey, tofu, put them in and jazz them up!

The world of vegies is endless: broccoli, cauliflower, onions, bell peppers, beans, zucchini, spinach, avocado.

My Tip: Don’t be fooled about frozen vegetables. Research shows that, in many cases, they are fresher than the ‘fresh’ variety. This is because they are flash frozen near the point of harvest and don’t spend days, or even weeks, sitting on the supermarket shelf or in storage.

Let your imagination run riot!

Open up your fridge and your cupboards.

What’s in there that you can use?

What can I add to my dish to lift it from the ordinary to the tasty and fun?

You could add cheese, nuts or seeds, edamame, olives, or whatever else you might have on hand.

The two best words to use when you are thinking about creating a meal are, ’What if . . ?’

Flavor your food!

As you know, I am from Spain, so I love my food to be vibrant and tasty and worth remembering!

It really makes a difference to use spices, toppings, sauces, marinades, and other condiments.

They enhance the flavors, adding juiciness and drastically change the way food tastes.

Try soy sauce, teriyaki, bbq sauce, pesto, curry, mayo, mustard, hot sauce or add fresh herbs, dried chilies, garlic, or ginger.

As above, let your imagination run riot.

Have fun with your food!

Y que aproveche!

Use the right containers

If you’re planning to eat on the plane and heat the food using the aircraft oven, you need an oven-safe container.

Here are a few options:

  • Use glass containers. They can be also used in microwaves. They won’t change the taste of food, and they don’t release any chemicals at hot temperature as plastic containers can.
  • Use aluminum foil sheets. It will take less time to heat compared to glass containers and they are less heavy. And the ones in the link, in particular, are divided in 3 compartments of different sizes that can be used for a main dish and the sides.
  • Stainless steel containers: the eco-friendly option. Super sturdy, you don’t need to worry about breaking it, and the option for you if your glass containers are too heavy to carry to and from.

Get a quality lunch bag

If you are someone that works mostly 2, 3, 4-day trips, I recommend something like lifewit 32 which is one of the most popular lightweight cooler bags for us flight attendants.

It has great insulating power and it’s divided in 2 compartments.

One can be used for hot food and the other one for cold beverages or desserts, snacks, etc.

It also comes with a strap on the back to go over the suitcase handle and sit on top, and a shoulder strap which makes carrying this bag very convenient.

The material used inside the bag is very good with a leakproof design to avoid messy accidents while traveling.

The 32 size is plenty for whatever needs you have on a 3-4 day trip, but if you want to have extra room to use one as a multipurpose carrier to minimize your amount of bags, change to lifewit 48!

Tips for Flight Attendant Meal Prep

Now, just a few tips before you start meal prepping:

  • If you are having an international layover, you might need to check what is allowed to bring into your destination country. Sometimes fresh fruit, meat, and veggies are not permitted. But you can bring canned food, nuts, or packaged rice, like minute rice bowls.
  • Rotisserie chicken can save your life. It’s cheap and healthy and you can make several meals from one chicken.
  • Always undercook your veggies, they’ll get finished off when you reheat your meal in the plane.
  • When you cook at home, always make bigger portions to portion out leftovers and package them into separate containers, and reserve them for any other day.
  • Always carry in your bag some instant oatmeal packages, ramen noodles, protein bars, nuts, tuna packets, instant mashed potatoes, or hummus, in case nothing is open when you land.

So there we are, some tips and tricks to make your personal food preparation easier and waay more interesting. I hope you have enjoyed reading about how to meal prep as a flight attendant, feel free to add more ideas in the comments.

Happy flying and stay safe out there everyone!

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