Take Campsite Cooking to the Next Level With Tinfoil

©. K Martinko -- Potato packets almost done, just waiting for the cheese to melt

Discover the wonders of packet cooking -- sealing ingredients in foil for tender, flavorful results and minimal mess.

This past weekend I discovered that tinfoil packets are an astonishingly easy way to make fantastic food. You may be wondering how I didn't know this already, but the truth is that I'd never actually tried it, despite reading about it in cookbooks and food magazines.

That changed on Friday night when my family and I went camping at a nearby provincial park. In an effort to up my camp-food game somewhat, I googled camping recipes and came up with a mouthwatering list of ideas on The Kitchn. The one that grabbed my attention was 'cheesy grilled potato packets.' I pre-sliced 3 lbs of unpeeled white potatoes into thick wedges, asked my 6-year-old to grate a couple cups of cheddar cheese, grabbed a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves, some salt and olive oil, and tossed it all into the food box with a roll of aluminum foil.

At the campsite I got a nice fire going and waited for some hot coals to form. I divided the potatoes and garlic into three packages, doused them with olive oil, sprinkled them with a bunch of the green onions I'd already minced for salad, and added salt. They sealed up nicely with a second layer of foil and went onto the grate over the fire. Within minutes, I could hear them sizzling softly.

potato packets ready for the fire

© K Martinko -- Potato packets almost ready for the fire

Half an hour later, I opened them up, sprinkled cheese on top, and let it melt. The final dish was heavenly -- the perfect camping meal to enjoy on a warm summer evening. And better yet, there were leftovers to enjoy with fried eggs the next morning.

Once home, I couldn't get tinfoil out of my head. For dinner last night I popped a few pieces of salmon onto a piece of foil, drizzled it with a tamari-hoisin mixture and sprinkled with green onion, garlic, and minced ginger, and put it on the barbecue. Once again, we had a tender, flavorful meal with minimal mess and maximum convenience.

What else can one do with tinfoil over a fire or barbecue? Based on my Internet searches, it looks like the sky's the limit. You can use almost any veggie and protein combinations, as long as they're cut up and have similar cook times. Add oil, herbs, and seasonings. Next up in my camp food attempts will be breakfast foil packs, sweet potato taco filling, mushroom-corn quesadillas, veggie pasta packets, and -- who could resist? -- Rolo-stuffed bananas.

Please note: I try to reuse as much tinfoil as possible by washing, drying, and folding for later use. When it cannot be used any longer, I clean it, scrunch it into a ball, and add to the recycling.

Have you tried making foil packets before? What are your favorite combinations?