There’s one inescapable fact about airline food: it isn’t worth paying extra for.
I won’t say no when Qantas or Virgin come around with their so-called “refreshment” or “meal” option.
But I’m not paying Jetstar or Tigerair prices simply to feed myself, especially during a domestic flight.
Coughing up $5 for cheese and crackers, or for a single slice of banana bread, is just a massive waste of money as far as I’m concerned.
Ditto paying $10 for an overheated, rubbery toasted sandwich.
However, if the flight is a longer haul or overlaps with a regular mealtime, then refreshment might indeed be called for.
POINTS HACK: CHEAPEST QANTAS DEAL EVER
THE DUMBEST THING TO BUY AT THE AIRPORT
The trick is to stock up at the local supermarket ahead of your trip, rather than paying through the (aircraft) nose.
Obviously, the healthiest and mostly planet-friendly option is to grab a piece of fresh fruit.
The downside is that fruit bruises easily and can cause a mess when it gets crushed inside your tightly-packed-but-still-under-7kg hand luggage.
I speak from bitter, banana-stained experience there.
Also, you can’t stock up and pack weeks in advance with a fruit-first approach.
The secret to easily packing snacks for a flight is to head straight to the lunch box aisle.
Stuff that’s designed to feed kids turns out to be a solid choice for travellers.
Fierce price competition also means you’ll usually pay the same at Woolies, Coles or Aldi.
These are my top picks.
The 12-pack of store brand crackers-and-cheese snacks, around $4. The Coles and Woolworths options are literally the same product, and marginally more luggage-space-friendly than the Aldi alternative. Either way, this is way cheaper than the on-flight price for cheese and crackers, or indeed the branded Le Snak alternative. One box serves me for a dozen flights, so it’s a solid deal.
The 15 pack of Arnott’s Shapes, around $4.99. I favour these over multi-packs of crisps because they’re less inclined to burst in your tightly packed bag, but the principle is similar either way. (Yes, if you’re mega-frugal, you might decant from a regular box into a reusable container, but I’m looking for a balance of convenience and value here.)
A 6-pack of boxed sultanas, around $1.80. If you want them covered in yoghurt or chocolate, you’ll be paying a dollar or so more.
Snack tin of flavoured tuna, around $0.95. Obviously, this isn’t incredibly friendly to your fellow passengers. Remember to pack a plastic fork too.
Banana bread, around $1.60. If you want it, bring your own and pay a third of the price.
Remember too that there aren’t any liquid restrictions on domestic flights in Australia, so you’re not stuck with paying airport water prices. Bring your own instead.
On international legs, you don’t have that option, but you can still bring your own snacks. Just eat them all before you land.
Angus Kidman is the editor-in-chief and travel guru for Finder.
MY SUPERMARKET SECRET FOR QANTAS POINTS
13 TRICKS TO BAG A DIRT CHEAP FLIGHT
CARRY-ON QUESTION EVERY TRAVELLER ASKS