With summer finally here after a long, cold winter, it’s time to start to think about camping. Whether you go with the family, friends, or alone, camping is a great way to get away from the stress of everyday life and just slow down. If you’re going camping to relax, though, who wants to stress out about complicated food preparation? I can make a mean campfire beef stew, or make grilled steaks and roasted sweet potatoes, but sometimes, I’d rather spend my time hiking, fishing, or relaxing around a fire…not cooking. For times like this, foil packet meals are a great way to make a great meal with minimal effort. One of the best part about cooking in foil is that you can do all the prep work before you leave for your trip, making mealtime easy while you’re camping.
What do you need to create a foil packet meal?
1 box of heavy-duty aluminum foil (make sure it’s heavy duty, it holds up to fire and tongs better)
1 serving of meat per packet (chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, or even hamburgers can be used)
Assorted fresh vegetables (I like using potatoes or sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, onion, peppers, and/or green beans)
A little butter or Olive Oil (to keep things from burning)
Salt, Pepper, and other seasonings to taste.
Cut the vegetables and meat into bite-sized pieces.
Using several pieces of foil, create a “pouch” to put the food into. Make sure the pouch is big enough to hold all ingredients, and all seams are tightly folded over so that your meal doesn’t dry out (or get full of ashes).
Fill the pouch with the meat, vegetables, butter or oil, and seasonings. Seal up the pouch and stick it in the cooler.
When it comes time to prepare your meal, you can cook it either on a gas or charcoal grill or right on the fire. Get a good fire going with hardwoods, and let it burn down to hot coals. This is a perfect cooking fire. Place the packet on the cooking surface, and remember to flip often with tongs to keep the food from burning.
Cooking time will vary based on the type and amount of ingredients you use, and the heat of your fire, but expect your meal to take about 20-40 minutes to cook. A good rule of thumb is that when you smell your food, it’s probably done. Double-check your meat for doneness before eating, consuming undercooked meat, especially chicken, pork, or seafood can make you sick.
Once your food is cooked, remove the foil packet from the heat source using tongs, and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Open the packet carefully (steam inside will be hot), and eat your dinner right from the packet with a fork…not only is cooking easy, but cleanup is a snap!
Foil Packet meals are great because they’re quick and easy to prepare and clean up after, and the only limit to variety is your imagination. Mix and match ingredients to find your favorite combinations. These also make great meals for families with picky kids, as each packet can be personalized with the foods each family member prefers. And with nothing in them but meat, fresh veggies, and a little bit of butter or oil, these packets make a healthy, hearty alternative to other “quick” camping foods like burgers and hot dogs.
For quick, healthy, tasty meals that allow you to enjoy your camping vacation without sacrificing quality meals, you can’t beat foil packet meals. Enjoy!