I grew up having family reunions every other year. We would camp for an entire week. I would go up with my grandparents because my mom had to work during the week and she would join us for the weekend. Those weeks were full of awesomeness. It was a time to run off with cousins and explore creeks, forests, and rock “castles.” It was a time to play the bean bag toss game, horse shoes, and cards with my grandma. And it was a time for no-utensils spaghetti dinners and tin foil meals. Food when you are camping is always the best ever. I don’t remember what they put in those tin foil meals exactly…I just remember meat, bacon, onion and carrots. It was good though! When I went to college, my friend Nicki introduced me to “Hobo Stew.” It was delicious.
Since then, I’ve experimented a lot and made up my own recipes…and now I’m going to share them with you! I have quite a few of them so they won’t all fit in one blog post. You’ll have to check back later for more.
Tin foil dinners are good for camping of course…but do you have a house that heats up like crazy in the summer whenever you turn the oven on…and don’t have AC? Another reason I love tin foil meals. Throw it on the barbecue grill if you’re at home! I cook outside most of the summer. It’s nice to be able to get creative and do things other than grilled meat and veggies.
My General Tin Foil Cooking Tips
When wrapping it, definitely use two or three layers of foil. You can either wrap it and flip it over and wrap it upside down so you can turn it over easily while cooking, or you can give it a top with a sturdy grabbing “handle.” It is easier to open and check on it and eat it out of the foil the second way, but by not turning it over, you risk burning the bottom, so you have to watch it.
When I put it on the fire, I either put it on a rock on the side of the fire and make sure to turn it a lot so it cooks evenly, or I put it on a grill over the fire…trying to keep it over nice coals instead of flames. It burns easily but needs time to cook- especially if you’re using potatoes or they will be hard. You could bring pre-cooked potatoes and not worry about it. I’ve never done that because I am not very good at remembering to prep before camping, but it seems like a good idea 🙂 If you aren’t using potatoes, this is not as big of an issue and you don’t have to leave it on nearly as long. Just make sure the meat is done and you’re good.
I use about ¼ or ⅓ pound of meat for each packet. So I usually get about a pound for my family- I make three packets and have the girls split one. You’ll have to just eyeball the rest- it really depends on how many people you’re feeding and how much stuff you’re putting in the packet. In my traditional hobo stew I typically I’ll use ⅓ pound of ground beef and a handful or two of each of the veggies. It is really easy to make your packet too large or too small on your first try.
Nicki’s Hobo Stew (what started my obsession…)
- Ground beef
- Cream of mushroom soup
Put the meat, chopped veggies, cheese and garlic on some tin foil. Cover with cream of mushroom soup, wrap it up and throw it in the fire. Check out my general tin foil cooking tips above for more info.
My Version of Hobo Stew
- Ground beef
- Green pepper
- Ketchup (I changed to ketchup once I went gluten free)
- Salt and Pepper
- (I throw in other veggies sometimes- peas, asparagus, mushrooms, etc. Whatever I have and need to use up. I have also used sausage instead of hamburger, which is yummy.)
I break the ground beef apart into small pieces so that it’s not just one big blob that I have to cut up later. I chop the bacon. And I cut up the potatoes really small (they usually take the longest to cook.) Those three things go on the bottom. Then I dice the rest of the veggies and throw on some salt and pepper and cover it pretty good with ketchup. See my general tin foil cooking tips above for more info.
Come back soon for more tin foil recipes! I am excited to share my experiments with you 🙂