It remains one of my most vivid childhood food memories. I'm at Camp Fire Girls camp. Hot coals are glowing in a huge cooking grill, and on nearby picnic tables are platters of meat, cheese, and vegetables, a jar of Accent seasoning, and foil sheets. We each make our own dinner by filling a foil packet with whatever we like. After cooking mine on the fire, I dig in as if it were the first time I'd ever tasted food. And, in a sense, it was, because for the first time I had made dinner just the way I wanted it. All that took place more years ago than I care to admit, but foil dinners (what we called hobo stew) are as memorable for kids today as they were back then. As much an activity as a meal, the foil feast here has been updated with a variety of fresh ingredients. Prep as many — or few — as you like, then have everyone customize a packet. Your kids will love being the boss of their own dinners, and you'll appreciate the no-fuss cleanup.
Look at our Four Flavor Favorites: South of the Border, Mediterranean Coast, Off to Asia and Oktoberfest
Prepare the Foil: Cut 18-inch-square sheets of heavy-duty foil. You'll use these in step 5 to assemble your meal.
Choose your meat:
Chicken: Cut boneless, skinless breasts or thighs into 1/2-inch-wide strips, then season them with salt and pepper. Use up to eight strips per serving.
Shrimp: Shell the shrimp, then season them with salt and pepper. Use up to 14 shrimp per serving. (We used 21- to 30-count shrimp.)
Kielbasa: Cut the kielbasa or other cooked, smoked sausage into 4-inch-long pieces, then halve each lengthwise. Use up to four pieces per serving.
Hamburger: Make 4-inch-wide patties, then season with salt and pepper. Or before dividing up the meat, mix in this flavor booster.
Toss in some extras: Beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and cheese all make great add-ins. You can offer an array or just a few —' it's up to you. Allow as much as 2 cups per serving; bite-size pieces work best.
Add a little zip with flavor boosters: Check out our array of herbs and sauces to spice up your meal.
Seal, label, and grill the packets: Make a charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to high (400 F). Have each family member select a mix of ingredients and place them on one side of a piece of foil. Fold over the foil and roll up the edges to seal in juices. For quick cooking, roll the foil as close to the food as possible. Use a permanent marker to label the packets. Lay the packets on the grill, close the lid, and cook until the meat is cooked through. The chicken, kielbasa, and hamburger will need about 15 minutes; the shrimp about 10 minutes.