Portable Meals and Snacks for Food Sensitive Travellers

Eating away from home is a challenge. Clients often choose between going hungry or eating a problematic food. Neither is healthy. Portable meals and snacks can be a big help. Hopefully, some of these ideas will work for your restrictions.

Day Trips

The following snacks will keep fresh in an insulated lunch kit for about twelve hours (add an ice pack or freeze one of the foods).

  • Sporks (spoon, fork, knife) are handy!
  • Boiled eggs
  • Cheese slices
  • Sandwiches:  most sandwich fillings freeze well (such as nut butter, sliced meat, salmon salad). Vegetable fillings (e.g., lettuce, tomato, etc.) do not. Place the sandwiches in small, sealed bags and remove as much air as possible. Stack several sandwiches in a thick freezer bag (to prevent freezer burn).
  • Hummus: purchase single serving containers or make your own (fill small containers and freeze).
  • Sliced vegetables: vegetable sticks are great to dip in hummus!
  • Smoothies: Keep cool in an insulated stainless-steel water bottle.
  • Yogurt in single serve containers
  • Vegetable and legume (e.g., lentils, chickpeas, black beans) salad.
  • Overnight oatmeal:  – mix oats and your favorite milk (cow, soy, coconut, etc.) in a mason jar. You can also add nuts, seeds, berries, chopped apple, dried fruit, spices (e.g., cinnamon), etc.
  • Hot meal in a thermos: soup works very well.

Slightly Longer Trips

Here are some suggestions for foods that will be okay for a few days without refrigeration.

  • Pancakes or muffins: freeze them individually
  • Nut or seed butter:
    • Spread on whole grain crackers, pancakes, apples, celery sticks, etc. or eat off a spoon!
    • Make sure you have something to spread the nut/seed butter.
    • Apple and peanut butter are one of my favorite snacks. If I am on the go and can’t slice the apple, I take a bite out of it and then spread some peanut butter on.
    • Fill small containers or buy single serve packages

Here’s a quick recipe for nut butter balls.


  • ⅔ cups Creamy Peanut Butter (or another nut butter)
  • ½ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (optional)
  • 1 cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • ½ cups Ground Flax Seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey


Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Place in the refrigerator for 15–30 minutes and then roll into balls. Nut butter balls will be soft and sticky when warm, so they are not a good snack in warm climates (especially if they are sitting in a vehicle).

Long Trips

These foods will stay fresh for a long time! They are helpful on longer trips.

  • Whole nuts and seeds are the ultimate on-the-go snacks. They are nutritious, and you can stash a bag of them anywhere without squishing them.
  • Spicy Pumpkin seeds:  mix 1 tsp olive oil, ¼ tsp curry powder (or different spice) and a pinch of salt in a bowl, add ⅔ cup pumpkin and stir to coat, roast at 300F for about 20 minutes - stirring a few times.
  • Cold cereal: Pack the cereal in a bowl with a lid and bring shelf-stable milk (or another beverage). Here’s an example.
  • Dried fruit: choose ones that are just fruit (without added sugar or sulfites). Dried fruits sticks between the teeth, so it is not a good idea if you are prone to cavities.
  • Trail mix:  combine - nuts, seeds, cold cereal, dried fruit, maybe even a few chocolate chips! However, chocolate melt when it gets warm.
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Single-serve canned tuna or salmon:  You could also bring a small package of mayo and relish to mix in (bring a spork).
  • Whole grain or legume chip (e.g., corn chips, black bean chips).
  • Popcorn
  • Roasted chickpeas:  Mix 1 cup chickpeas, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ tsp salt and your choice of spice in a bowl. Roast coated chickpeas on a cookie sheet for about 350C for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can also use a dehydrator.
  • Meat, chicken or fish jerky:  Most commercial products are high in salt and flavorings/ preservatives. If you can’t find a brand that works for you, it’s easy to make your own in a dehydrator or oven.
  • If you frequently travel, consider investing in a dehydrator or freeze dryer to make portable meals and snacks. Alternatively, you can dehydrate food in the oven on the lowest heat setting – but watch closely to make sure the food does not burn. Dehydrators are easier because the food will not burn.

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