Eating is a big part of my "Amusing the Kids" arsenal. As such, the food bag is a big deal in my house.
If you haven't heard about Pirate's Booty yet, you have got to go right now and find some. Buy it off the net if you have to. It's really yummy. My guys get it as a treat when they're on the plane. I try to pack snacks they actually like that are relatively healthy, don't take up too much space, and will fill them up pretty well. Pirate's Booty takes up a huge amount of space, is only remotely healthy, and isn't very filling, but they love it and it has gotten us out of some big, ugly jams when things were beginning to melt down. You could say it saves our booties. (Oh yes I did...)
Another of my favorite snacks for kids are applesauce pouches. They come in a variety of flavors from different manufacturers, Trader Joe's has the cheapest that I've found. (GoGoSqueez is pictured here). I've seen similar pouches full of baby food in Babies R Us, which I think is a fabulous idea. I don't mind spending a little more money for something that's conveniently packaged for flights. Sucking something from a pouch is a hundred times easier than dealing with spoons and cups with foil wrappers that explode all over your shirt (I'm looking at you, Gerber...).
- Dried fruit (I used to buy the boxes of Brother's freeze dried fruit from Costco, but it's all made in China and that's a little scary to me. So now I buy Just Tomatoes brand products. They're more expensive, but I feel they're safer plus, they also have some organic products.)
- Trail mix (I almost always have a package or two for the adults just to keep us going. Trader Joe's has great pre-packaged serving size portions of some nuts and trail mix, but if I don't have time to get there, I just baggie some bulk bin trail mix.)
- Goldfish (the only time my boys get colored goldfish is on airplanes, they go nuts!)
- Cheerios, rice puffs, or other dry cereal
- Fruit bars/leather (Archer Farms, Target's generic, has some great fruit leather strips and bars that are just fruit juice. They also have some little gummy "candies" made from fruit juice. And apparently, they also have some organic versions, too.) Oooh and LaraBars!
- Yogurt tubes (pre-frozen, so by lunch time they're thawed but not too warm and also serve to cool the bag some)
- Babybel cheese or string cheese (Added benefit to Babybel is my two love to play with the wax!)
- Fresh fruit, but try to think of some that don't have peels or cores to dispose of such as berries or pre-peeled oranges. Nothing like packing up to come home and finding a week old banana peel in your luggage!
- Some sort of protein, usually left-over from dinner the night before maybe chicken, maybe beans
- carrots or other veg
- frozen peas (in the green compartment, obviously!)
- juice or milk box (yes, they do make shelf stable milk, it's not horrible...)
I found a some inexpensive lunch boxes by bramli at Target a couple of years ago. I don't think they sell them any more, but you can still find them online. They are not watertight, so I pack accordingly.
Usually hummus with carrots and pita bread on the way out, whatever I can scrounge together from leftovers from the trip on the way home, maybe a sandwich with some fruit and/or veg. We drink whatever the airline is giving out free, though some airlines are even charging for water and soda now. Some travelers have suggested bringing refillable water bottles and that's not a bad idea. We also buy two big waters in the terminal if we have a chance.
Whatever it is, I don't pack the fork or knife because I don't want a hassle with the security team, so it's finger food. Also, you can't bring ice packs or blocks on planes these days, so try to think of things that don't require refrigeration.
Also, a lot of people suggest nursing or giving your little one a drink to soothe ears during landing and take off. Neither of my boys have ever seemed to actually notice. But it doesn't hurt to have a little something ready just in case.
Finally--now, I've never done this-- but some parents swear by it: Cookies. A little bribe here and there won't kill anyone and it might keep some of the glaring to a minimum. Cookies would never work with my kids, because as soon as they found out about them the whining would begin, followed by decent upon the cookies like ravenous beasts, followed by yet more whining because the cookies were all gone. I prefer to pack treats they like, but aren't crazy for. You know your own kids. If you think you can handle it, go for it!
Next up: The Activities Bags!