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These two do-it-yourself hot and cheap meals come from the logs of flight attendant life, and are perfect for the budget-minded traveler flying long distance. Plus they are surprisingly satisfying.

1. Breakfast: Instant oatmeal with creamer, sugar, and a whole lot of possibility. 

What to bring: A couple packets of instant oatmeal, plastic spoon, and baggie of whatever extras you like to put in your oatmeal. During drink orders, simply ask your flight attendant for a cup of hot water with milk or creamer, and sugar (like when ordering tea). Pour your instant oatmeal packet into the cup of water along with the milk/creamer and sugar provided. Stir thoroughly, then cover with lid and let sit 3-5 minutes. Uncover, then stir in your baggie/packets of add-ins. Voila! Gourmet breakfast on a plane.

Oatmeal, pecans, sliced banana, and maple syrup packet in a cup courtesy of Rachel Hathaway.
Oatmeal, pecans, sliced banana, and a maple syrup packet in a cup courtesy of Rachel Hathaway.

Some of my favorite add-in combos are: chocolate chips, walnuts, and coconut; cinnamon, raisons, and pecans; dried fruit and mixed nuts; etc. Bananas make an easy fresh fruit option — just bring the whole banana on board, then slice with your spoon when ready to add in. I’ve also done add-ins from packets collected at various continental breakfasts: packets of maple syrup, honey, jam, peanut butter, Nutella, flavored coffee creamers, etc.

2. Lunch/Dinner — Cup of noodles with al dente vegetables. 

What to bring: One cup of noodles, and one baggie of raw veggies, any type — mine were leftovers from a party platter the week before. During drink orders, simply ask your flight attendant for a plain cup of hot water (like for tea). Carefully pour it into your cup of noodles, then cover and let sit for one minute to let the noodles loosen up. Uncover and pack as many raw veggies into the noodles and broth as possible. Cover and let sit for the remaining 2-3 minutes. Uncover, and enjoy cup of noodles with al dente vegetables!

Cup of noodles with al dente veggies that I ate for dinner while commuting home from JFK to LAX after finishing up a four-day trip.
Cup of noodles with al dente veggies that I ate for dinner while commuting home from JFK to LAX after finishing up a four-day trip.

— Laura Rowley

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Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

3 comments

  1. What smart ideas. I’m going to give them a try the next time I fly. Normally I end up nibbling on junk food during the flight because none of the prepared meals sound any good to me.

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