Foil Dinners

by Stan Pope, with thanks
to Dan Hadfield


The art of cooking in foil is well established. Here are some ideas that help solve some universal problems. This is the way that I have incorporated "foil dinner cooking" into our Cub Scout Day Camp.

If you find the information in this page useful, please drop a dollar or two in an envelope and send it to my Boy Scout Council at Friends of Scouting, W.D. Boyce Council, BSA, 614 N.E. Madison, Peoria, IL, 61603. It will help my council and us volunteers continue to deliver "Good Scouting" to the youth of our area.


Times in minutes

-120  Lay fire base and boundary
-90  Measure, spread and light charcoal
-7502Greet Webelos Scouts
-73+28Show instruction tape
-65+105Issue plates and pens; Put names on plates
-60+157Issue potatos and carrots; Supervised slicing
-50  Spread Charcoal (assistant)
-53+228Issue foil, onion and burger; Wrap 'em!
-45+305Collect plates and meals; Put meals on fire.
-40+35 End of session
0 5Pull meals from fire.
+5  Eat!


General Plan

Dinners will be prepared by participants during the session that ends approximately 40 minutes prior to lunch. The dinners will be cooked beginning at the end of that session, and will be ready to eat during the regular lunch period.


Prior to starting meal preparation, some brief instructions on safety and technique is appropriate. I prepared a 5 minute video tape for this purpose, but you can do the same live. Topics are "Knife Safety and Potato Slicing Technique" and "Wrapping with Foil." The script below accompanied the demonstration, which included wrapping viewed from 3 different angles.


Each participant receives a paper plate. They are instructed to write their name on the rim of their plate using shared felt tip pens.

Each participant then receives a potato and about 3 baby carrots. They will slice the potato and carrots, using supplied paring knives, on the paper plate. We ask two boys to share a paring knife.

Next they receive a 18" X 18" sheet of aluminum foil and a (frozen) burger patty. A bowl of sliced or chopped onions will be available to share. Onions are recommended under the burger to minimize burning of the food.

With the onion and burger centered on the square of foil, they dump the veggies on top of the burger and carefully wrap and seal the foil. Two (crimped) sealing folds of about 1/2" each plus a few "expansion" folds (not crimped) is about right. Repeat the folds at each end. Curl the folded ends upward slightly to hold a charcoal briquette in place.

The folding and crimping is important so that the meal is sealed inside the air-tight foil wrap. It acts as a small, one-person pressure cooker to cook the contents.

Food Storage

Keep perishables on ice prior to session. After assembly, the Foil Dinners will be cooked immediately.

Fire Preparation

Lay out a strip of 12" HD Aluminum foil on a nonflammable surface, allowing about 1/2 foot per dinner. Erect any needed safety barriers. Light the charcoal using "chimney starters" or, where permitted, starting fluid. After lighting, spread the charcoal along the foil.

Meal Identification

Each participant has written his name on his paper plate. Meals will be brought to the fire by the participants on their paper plates. Meals will be placed on the fire in a straight line. The paper plates (with the participants names) will be stored in the same order as the meals on the fire.

When cooking is complete, the meals and paper plates will be reunited for distribution. Remove meals from the fire following the "first on, first off" rule. Carefully take one plate at a time from the stack. The worst errors you can make at this time are (1) dropping a meal on the ground and it splitting open and (2) taking two plates off the stack to go with one meal.

Lead time

Allow 20-30 minutes for charcoal to light.

Cooking Details

Allow 35 minutes for cooking. Cook with 6 briquettes under and 2 over each foil dinner. (8 briquettes per participant.)

Do not disturb the meals while they are cooking. With charcoal arranged as instructed, the meals cook well without being turned. (This minimizes the risk of damaging the meals.)

Eating Details

The meal can be eaten comfortably right from the foil. On your way back from the fire, blow the "camp pepper" (ash) off the outside of the foil. Don't do this at the table... you will be very unpopular!

Once seated at your eating place, carefully slit the top center of the foil, along the fold line. Keep fingers back because very hot steam will escape from inside. Pull the sides apart to expose the goodies inside.

Season to taste, then "chow down!" We use plastic forks, and they are sufficient to break the potatoes and meat into bite-size pieces easily.

Fire Cleanup

Because there is a lot of traffic and it would be inconvenient to supervise the charcoal as it burns itself out, I usually extinguish the fire by dropping the hot embers (using tongs) into a bucket of water. Gloves should be used because the water boils as the coal is placed in it.

When the bucket is too full of dead embers to hold more, dump the now cooled contents in a safe area. Refill the bucket as needed.

The foil containing the remaining ash can be sectioned and dumped into water also.

Estimating Supplies

Foil Dinner Supplies (revised 6/99)
Number of meals:100
ItemPurch unitServesPurch qtyCostCost/boyTotal Cost
Charcoal20 lb.333$5.00$0.15$15.15
12" HD Foil (fire base)50' roll1001$2.00$0.02$2.00
Plastic Forks1001001$2.00$0.02$2.00
Paper Plates1001001$2.00$0.02$2.00
18" HD Foil50' roll323.1$3.00$0.09$9.38
Frozen Burgers1 lb425$1.00$0.25$25.00
Baby Peeled Carrots2 lb303.3$3.00$0.10$10.00
Russet Potatos15 lb205$3.00$0.15$15.00



Script for "Foil Dinner" tape.

Knife Safety

Cutting the veggies into thin slices will make them taste better and cook more quickly. We will use paring knives to cut them up. These are very sharp knives, so you must be very careful.

We will cut up the veggies on a paper plate. Sharp edge down toward the plate and press the knife through the veggie. Don't "saw" it or you will cut right through the plate ... and you will need the plate later!

Always cut away from yourself. Hold the veggie firmly against the plate by pressing down from the top. Then, cut from the top of the veggie down toward the plate and away from your fingers.

You can speed up the process with a simple little trick ... when the knife reaches the plate, give it a small twist to break off the piece that you have cut!

Cooking with Foil

Foil can be a camper's best friend. One good way to use foil is to cook in it. Regardless of what you put in it, it will taste best if you follow these simple instructions:

Foil makes a small, one person roasting pot that causes the flavor of the meat and spices to permeate the veggies! It makes them taste sooooo goooood!

1. Lay the foil on a clean surface shiny side up. This will reflect the heat in.

2. Put something like a cabbage leaf or slice of onion as the bottom layer of contents.

3. Handle the foil carefully so that it does not tear.

4. Fold and crimp the foil for two folds only. Then simply fold loosely so that the foil can expand as it heats.
Latest update: 7/2/99
Copyright 1999 © by Stan Pope. All rights reserved.