Airport Hacks: The Healthiest Foods You Can Find at the Airport

The best airport hacks are the ones that keep you happy — and healthy — as you travel across the country and around the world. When you’re hungry, grabbing fast food before you reach your gate seems like the best option. You don’t have to wreck your diet the moment you clear security, though. Here are the healthiest foods you’ll find at the airport.

Breakfast

Starbucks Classic Oatmeal

The outside of a Starbucks

If you see a Starbucks, know the oatmeal is a healthy choice. | Philippe Lopez/Getty Images

This basic oatmeal offers 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and only 2.5 grams of fat. A combination of oats, nuts, and dried fruit, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of textures and flavors that won’t leave you feeling hungry afterward. Without added sugars and massive amounts of sodium, this is definitely a quick breakfast you’ll be glad you took the time to eat before or after flying.

Next: Here’s a breakfast flatbread from a chain you might not expect to serve healthy food.

Dunkin’ Donuts Veggie Egg White Flatbread

Friends eating Dunkin' Donuts together

This breakfast has both veggies and egg whites, so we call it a win. | Dunkin’ Donuts via Facebook

One of Dunkin’s DDSmart menu items, the Veggie Egg White Flatbread, contains 3 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein — that’s a lot for only 330 calories’ worth of food. There’s still a lot of saturated fat and sodium in there, but you’d get much more if you ordered a different breakfast sandwich off the same menu. The peppers, onions, and mushrooms make it a flatbread worth grabbing on the go.

Next: It’s the healthy breakfast you need as you walk/run to catch your plane.

Panera Bread Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries Parfait

a parfait with berries and yogurt

This is the perfect mix of protein and carbs. | iStock.com

At just 300 calories, Panera’s Greek yogurt parfait might be the light yet filling breakfast you need to hold you over. You’ll get 13 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and a very small amount of sodium. Most of the sugar comes from the fruit, and it’s still much healthier than grabbing a bag of M&Ms and calling it breakfast.

Next: This item is slightly healthier than a traditional Egg McMuffin.

McDonald’s Egg White Delight McMuffin

close-up of an egg McMuffin sandwich

Surprisingly, McDonald’s does have healthy options. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Here’s how to get your breakfast sandwich fix without packing on the fat and calories. This McMuffin only costs you 260 calories and 4.5 grams of saturated fat. It will give you 16 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, which sort of makes up for its high sodium content. Regardless of its saltiness, this sandwich is a much healthier choice than many other breakfast sandwiches out there.

Next: Arriving at the airport around lunchtime? Here are some healthy options you can try.

Lunch

Subway Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich

sandwiches with savory fillings on wooden table

Yes, you can enjoy subway without guilt. | iStock.com/ClaudioVentrella

This sandwich only gives you 1.5 grams of fat and 8 grams of sugar, which isn’t bad when you consider other fast food sandwich options tend to fare much worse. In addition, you’ll be able to fill up on 5 grams of fiber and a total of 23 grams of protein in one sandwich. You won’t even have enough room left for dessert — which isn’t the worst that could happen.

Next: Dare to add something fishy to your lunch menu.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop Tuna Salad Sandwich

Fresh made Tuna Sandwiches on wooden background

Tuna salad offers protein with little saturated fat. | iStock.com/HandmadePictures

There are less than 530 calories in this sandwich, and it’s a meal you won’t want to miss. A large portion of those calories come from protein — 27 grams’ worth, to be exact. It’s a little high in sodium, so you’ll want to choose your beverage wisely (water is a good place to start). However, it’s a light enough meal that you’ll be able to rest easy on your ride to your next destination.

Next: There’s something good wrapped inside this treat.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap

Chick-fil-A meal with the calorie count

Wraps from this fast food restaurant aren’t too shabby. | Chick-fil-A via Facebook

If you need a high-protein lunch that’s easy to eat with one hand, this wrap might do the trick. There are 37 grams of protein in there, plus 15 grams of fiber — just 10 shy of the daily minimum recommendation for healthy digestion. There are almost 1,000 milligrams of sodium in one serving, so it’s not something you’ll want to eat regularly. But you’re probably going to be taking a lot of steps that day, so it’s fine.

Next: You can’t go wrong with a simple salad.

Chipotle Chicken Salad

A salad from Chipotle

Get a salad full of fresh veggies and grilled chicken. | Chipotle Mexican Grill via Facebook

If you’re not in the mood for a burrito bowl, or you want something lighter before you fly, Chipotle’s salads don’t disappoint. Start with the basics — romaine lettuce — and add chicken, cheese, and dressing, and even a side of chips and salsa to spice things up. Chipotle gives you the freedom to choose, so if you really can’t resist adding guacamole to a salad, at least you’re on the right track.

Next: If dinnertime’s fast approaching, it’s good to know your options before you land.

Dinner

Panda Express Mushroom Chicken with Mixed Vegetables

Panda Express mushroom chicken dish

Not all Chinese food is bad for you. | Panda Express via Facebook

As with any fast food entree, some of Panda’s menu items can add a little too much salt or fat, or too many calories, to your pre-flight meal. Their mushroom chicken entree, though, only provides 170 calories, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, and 11 grams of carbohydrates. Add in a side of mixed vegetables to add extra fiber and nutrition to your bowl.

Next: Choose the mini version of one of your go-to dinner favorites to make it healthier.

Five Guys Little Hamburger and Fries

man holding a hamburger ready to eat it

You can have your burger — just make sure it’s the little one. | Kzenon/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Five Guys burgers are hard to resist — so if that’s what you’re craving to ease your travel anxiety, you can go “Little” as a compromise. A Little Hamburger is only 480 calories and 380 milligrams of sodium, not including toppings. When you do decide to decorate, skip the mayo and relish and pile on as many vegetables as you’re allowed.

Next: If there’s a Chili’s in the vicinity, here’s what to order.

Chili’s Mango-Chile Chicken

Chili's mango chicken

This chicken is both healthy and delicious. | Chili’s Grill & Bar via Facebook

If you need a sit-down meal that’s filling — but not too filling — try Chili’s Mango-Chile Chicken entree. The entire meal is only 460 calories, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, and 12 grams of sugar (fruit is mostly sugar, after all). The entree’s two sides — steamed rice and broccoli — also offer filling and delicious health benefits that make this option worth considering.

Next: Is pizza an acceptable option in an airport? The short answer is, yes.

Cheese pizza

margarita pizza top view

Skip the processed meats and just go for plain cheese pizza. | iStock.com/erkanatbas

The good news is, you’re allowed to order pizza in an airport. Even if it isn’t a real vacation, it’s OK to sort of treat it like one. A simple slice of pizza really isn’t all that unhealthy. The bad news is that you shouldn’t go all out on toppings. A simple slice of cheese pizza from whichever pizzeria your local airport hosts will likely satisfy your craving for something cheesy and salty. It’s probably wise to skip the processed meat, though — especially if you hate using airplane bathrooms. Salt makes you thirsty, and drinking a lot will make you have to pee.

Next: These are the healthy airport snacks you’re looking for.

Snacks

Whole fresh fruit

cut up kiwi and banana

Fresh fruit is always a good option. | iStock.com

Fresh fruit may not be the first thing you think of when hunting for airport snacks, but they’re a healthy snack worth searching for. You can quickly and easily grab an apple or banana in any airport lounge. Fruit is full of fiber, which digests much more slowly than the carbs you’d get from a granola or candy bar. Fresh fruit and dried fruit are both acceptable options when airport snacking.

Next: This small snack can keep you full both before and on your flight.

Nuts

Mixed nuts in a bowl

They’re high in calories, but still a good choice. | Amarita/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Nuts provide large amounts of calories and fat per serving, which sometimes makes them a risky snack while you’re hanging around at home. However, in small amounts, nuts can provide a significant amount of protein to help hold you over until you can order snacks during your flight. A single-serving bag of nuts isn’t going to ruin your diet. It might even save it.

Next: This simple snack is packed with protein and will keep you full while you wait.

Hummus

Hummus with carrot sticks

You can find on-the-go packs of hummus in the airport. | Robyn Mac/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When you’re headed to the airport, you can’t rely on homemade snacks to give you the protein and fiber you need to get through the long wait at your gate. Thankfully, many airports sell small containers of hummus you can pair with pretzels, crackers, or other easy to grab convenience snacks.

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