Never eat a bland airplane meal again.
Unless you’re sitting pretty in first or business class, plane food isn’t quite the culinary experience that you look forward to on long-haul flights. In fact, sometimes your tray—typically a hodge-podge of carbs, mushy vegetables, and difficult-to-identify proteins—can be downright nasty (thank goodness airlines continue to supply barf bags).
But thanks to some TSA-compliant condiments, you can zhuzh up that boring meal and take it from drab to fab (or at least somewhat more edible). Check out our favorite mini-sized condiments to bring in your carry-on.
Truff Original Hot Sauce Packets
Food scientifically tastes worse on a plane due to dry air and atmospheric pressure, so you’ll need to rely on the big, bold flavors of hot sauce to overcompensate. Truff more than delivers with a recipe that is equal parts sweet and spicy but accented with the earthiness of—you guessed it—foraged black truffles. These single-use packets also conveniently fit in any purse or carry-on bag, so you’re not schlepping around a random bottle among your most-used toiletries.
Bragg Nutritional Yeast
Cheesy and nutty but also jam-packed with protein and cell-strengthening vitamin B, Bragg Nutritional Yeast (typically derived from molasses, whey, and sugar beets) will satisfy any parmesan craving. And since it’s the instinct of many Americans to douse foul-tasting food with grated parmesan in the first place, this is obviously a worthwhile investment that may even replace the dairy product altogether.
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Sabatino Truffle Zest
If the Truff hot sauce packets don’t pack enough of a truffle punch, you can opt for the spore (not mushroom!) in powdered form with Sabatino’s Truffle Zest. The umami bomb elevates any type of cuisine with a touch of luxury and, thanks to the flavor intensity of its beloved star ingredient, doesn’t require much of a shake to take your food from gross to gourmet.
S&B La-Yu Chili Oil with Chili Pepper
A little spice is always nice, and a dash of S&B’s La-Yu mini chili oil bottle is all you need to bring a whole lotta heat (and some sesame oil) to whatever’s in front of you. Bonus tip: Mix this and a black pepper packet into a bloody mary to make that can of basic tomato juice and vodka even more complex and palatable.
Colman’s Dry Mustard Powder
A pinch or two of Colman’s Dry Mustard Powder and this bright yellow English export will awaken not only a dish but also your sinuses. It is Arnold Schwarzenegger-levels of strong (at least in his glory days), but a welcomed departure from the boring and practically inedible. Use it to quickly season chicken, but even fish which, yes, some airlines are still bold enough to serve mid-flight.
Rockin’ Rubs Tuscan Temptation Italian Seasoning
Potent herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme bring sharp, familiar, and almost floral-like qualities to dishes that lack a bit of culinary inspiration. And since pasta will likely be an entree option on your flight, this aromatic blend from Tuscan Temptation will be its saving grace…guaranteed.
Jacobsen Salt Co. Pinot Noir Salt
Since you’re likely going to order that complimentary glass of wine with your meal, why not keep the flavor profile thematic by investing in a wine-based salt? Jacobsen Salt Co. has really hit it out of the park with a pinot noir variety that captures its signature notes of vanilla and red fruit. Though we’re recommending it for the plane, it will inevitably sneak its way into dishes at your final destination.
Ramp Up Mini Vinegar Collection
These adorable vinegar jars from Ramp Up not only heighten a boring side salad or vegetable tray but they can also be mixed into heavy entrees to bring brightness and lightness to sauces or gravies that will sit in your stomach like a brick. And with five flavors to choose from, like black garlic and red miso, you can rotate what you bring for each trip until you find a favorite.
Go Raw Spicy Fiesta Pumpkin and Sunflower Seed Mix
Most meal options are one-noted when it comes to the overall texture and are in desperate need of some crunch. Try tossing a small handful of heart-healthy Go Raw Spicy Fiesta Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds into curries, stir-fries, or even meatloaf trays to make eating a bit more exciting (and not so mushy). You can also achieve the same outcome by using the pretzels and peanuts the flight attendants served you upon takeoff.
Acc’ent Flavor Enhancer
There is always controversy surrounding MSG, despite the FDA labeling its use as “generally safe.” The fact is, MSG is the best flavor enhancer—next to actual salt—that money can buy. Ac’cent’s humble powder will season practically any savory dish to a level that is not just acceptable but maybe even delicious.