You Are Stuck In An Airport: What Are You Gonna Eat?

December 11, 2012   20 Comments

Snack Girl used to travel much more when she was cool. Now that she is boring, she flies maybe once a year.

Airports Healthy Food

Over the holiday season, over 24 million people will be moving through our nation’s airports and we all know what a nightmare it can be. Fogged in at SFO? Plane needs maintenance in ATL? How about missed your connection in ORD? Been there and done it.

Guess what happens? If you finished all the lovely food that you packed to take with you because you are a super healthy eater NOW you must forage. Or if you forgot to pack anything because you were running late (that would be me) and it is time to find something to eat.

This used to be a time when I would just give up and go to McDonald’s because fast food was all that was there (and it was the least expensive option). This was back in the old days of plane travel when you could walk through security with large bottles of shampoo. Remember?

Something exciting has happened since the good old days. Last year when I flew through EWR (Newark), there was a fast food option that curled my toes. FAST FOOD FRESH SALAD!!

You walk up and have a choice between greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, etc.), add your favorite toppings (cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, chicken, chickpeas.....), and then salad dressing. They will mix it up for you (or you can get it on the side) and have an amazing fresh salad.

This was the best airport food that I have ever had. It turns out that Newark Liberty International has won the top healthy food airport in the U.S.A. as deemed by the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (see: 2012 Airport Food Reviews).

Frankly, I am proud of Newark and after my visit I was not surprised that they won top honors.

Anyone want to guess the worst airport to find a healthy meal? My mind went to Texas (sorry Texans), but Houston (4) and Dallas (7) were not as low as Atlanta, which ranked dead last (12).

Oooh, ATL, how many hours have I spent there breathing in stale air and wishing my plane would board? Why can’t you serve more healthy food? You are last for the third year in a row!

The list, 2012 Airport Food Reviews, is a great resource because it gives the names of the venues and the food to order at them to get a healthy meal.

When I fly through SFO in February, I am planning to have the physician recommended falafel sandwich at Amoura Cafe. Doesn’t that sound so much better for me than the double cheeseburger at Wendy’s?

Yes, you can find something healthy at an airport. You just have to know where to look.

How do you deal with lousy food at airports? Please share.

Other posts you might like:

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Airport food? Apple? Banana? For snack~ salads at restaurants are usually available. Recently I picked up at a shop some dry roasted was early am, as I popped a handful in my mouth, I read the bottom of (3.99$) package, spicy wasabi! (the sinuses were cleared). Ha!

Great post because it is so true. You can end up without food in an airport for a long time. It's happened to me just last week. I was in Puerto Rico airport and was able to get a fresh salad from Subway topped with avocado..but I really had to look around.

Fun post! When I go to the airport in other states, I look for Dunkin Donuts! Not for the donut but for there traditional vanilla coffee! lol

I wish I was going to an airport to have that problem. lol Destination: anywhere warm.

Blargh. How utterly embarrassing for our little burg.

(FWIW, I always bring more healthy food/snacks than I can eat for just this reason.)

-Andy D

Atlanta, GA

Much to my husband's horror, I always pack some snacks like string cheese, almonds and veggies/hummus. Eating those usually holds us over until we're away from the airport. Over Thanksgiving, our snack pack didn't cut it and we found ourselves starving in Charlotte. I was skeptical at first but it turns out they have a pretty decent sushi place!

I've always found that those packets of blue diamond natural almonds are usually available in Airports.

I head to the magazine stand, last time bought a Kind bar- both directions... They are a special treat and delicious!

I love that someone took the time to put all this research together. Truthfully, though, it's not very hard to find a decently healthy snack (or even meal) at any airport. Even the most obscure typically have fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), nuts, or pre-packaged salads in kiosks. And almost all have some sort of chain restaurant (like Subway) with healthy options - it's really up to YOU to make smart decisions about what and how you order.

Lisa, when you go through SFO you must visit T2, our new terminal. After having worked your way through a bevy of healthy options, you can get your treat in the form of a 100% organic cupcakes to die for...and then walk fast to the luggage carousel and carry the suitcases instead of using a cart.

Since I am also dealing with a latex allergy, I have to look for food not touched by latex gloves. On one trip, lunch was an apple and milk . . . and I was grateful for the time and honesty shown by the helpful staff, finding something I could have. The airport in Charlotte, N.C. had great stir fry!

Actually, we were stuck in the ATL airport for a longish layover earlier this year, and my husband and I decided to get some exercize walking from one terminal to the next. When we made it to the furthest terminal, we discovered a lovely healthy food "restaurant" (i.e., counter where you could get stuff). They had things like green salads, hummus, veggie salads, and a host of other things that looked amazingly good AND healthy! We stopped and had some lovely food before walking all the way back to our terminal.

I always pack with me a few Kind bars, Justin nut butter packets and apples.

Just flew through Atlanta with a 3 hour layover. Not a healthy snack insight. So I went to Chili's and got a salad but I did it MY way with just lettuce, veggies, grilled chicken and dressing on the side. Filling and healthy-esque!

I see you are suggesting that we don't use the fact that we are in an airport as an excuse to eat stupid stuff.....Hmmmm. An insidious concept....

Brothers all natural fruit crisps... They are delicious and healthy snacks. I eat a ton of these, they are great for on the go. My favorite is the Apple. My hubby even loves these and he isn't a fruit lover!

I usually pick up a plain yogurt, a piece of fruit and tea if it's the morning. I can usually find a salad. I generally fly out of Newark too.

I guess one of the best bets is to bring your snack-like foods. I usually bring one or more of the following *every* time I fly: banana, Fiber One Brownie, babybel cheeses, nuts (pre-portioned).

If there is a nice place to dine out, I make it my time to splurge - put try to keep portions under control. My fave place in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport is Surdyk's Flights. (A wine bar, of course!)

Carrie, I love Surdyk's as well! And french meadow is also pretty good at MSP.

I always fly with nuts, Luna or Cliff bars, apples, and water

and sometimes peanut butter and banana sandwiches! My fav!

I usually keep a protein bar and a tea bag in my bag with me. I can get water and then savor the protein bar with the tea! It keeps me satisfied...esp if I can eat half and save half for later though not always easy to do!

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