Cooking with Foil Packets

Practical, Easy, and Healthy with a Super-Easy Clean Up. Perfection!

I love foil packets! Let me explain…

My discovery of this wonderful cooking technique was a life saver for me: I am a time management disaster. I have the tendency to take my sweet time when cooking, enjoying every little aspect of it. It’s almost like a meditation for me. No matter how “quick and easy” a recipe can be, I end up taking 2 hours to make it, because I revel in every moment of chopping and dicing and mixing… of creating. It’s where I find my peace, and I lose myself in cooking.

That’s wonderful and great and all… except when I am truly pressed for time. This is where foil packets come in to save the day and to allow me to make a healthy, low calorie protein dish in no time. I mean, I know, you can just heat some oil and deep fry the suckers and that takes no time either, but that’s not my thing. I don’t do deep fried. I like to keep the oil down to a minimum, as anyone reading any of my recipes will have noticed (though turkey fryers are a-okay in my book).

There are various ways in which one can cook healthily and without many added calories, which are relatively quick- once you have all the ingredients ready. But that, the getting the ingredients ready quickly, is my problem.

With foil packets, you just throw everything on a piece of foil, fold the whole thing into a envelope or packet, and throw it in the oven. That’s it. Like that, even I can manage to cook quickly!

Anyway, the other day, thanks to my terrible time management skills, I went to the supermarket super late (ha ha). I had planned on trying to make a Brazilian dish from Bahia called Bobó (pronounced bahw-BAHW). I had never made it before… To be honest, I’ve never even eaten it before!

I’ve been wanting to learn more about my country’s various different cuisines, lately, so I have been trying out various new Brazilian recipes. This one seemed rather tasty: a thick sauce made with coconut milk, pureed mandioca (also known as manioc, yuca, or cassava, among other names), tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, and various spices, served over shrimp (or chicken, or any other meat) with rice as a accompaniment.

Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to really research what goes into Bobó, so when it came time for dinner, I was a bit at a loss as to what to do. I was already late getting started and still had to go more in depth to figure out how to make this dish, so I decided to leave it for another day. The problem was, I had nothing else to make.

The fish and pork which I’d been planning on using were already thawed, so I had to do something with them- something easy, no fuss, quick!! Oh, the pressure. But I make some of my best dishes when under pressure and strain (funny how that works, no?!) and what resulted from that night’s madness was something that could almost be called a “Bobó-style Packet”.

Here’s that recipe to get you started on your foil packet-ing way! I specify the amounts for just one packet, so that you may adjust for the number of people by simply making one recipe per person.


Makes 1 packet, about 200 calories each fish packet


– 4 oz Tilapia or any other mild white fish desired –OR– 4 oz lean pork
– 1 tsp lime juice
– 1/4 tsp olive oil
– salt and pepper
– 1/4 large sweet onion, sliced
– 5 grape tomatoes, halved
– 1/4 roasted red pepper (the bottled kind)
– 4 tbsp light coconut milk


1) Rub fish with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, let sit in the fridge until ready to seal packet.

2) Preheat oven 475 degrees

3) Rip a large piece of foil (about 9″ to 10″ long) and place on counter. Place onions in center of foil, top with tomatoes, then roasted peppers. Place fish over top of everything then pour coconut milk over top of everything, rubbing it into the fish a little. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little more lime juice, if desired.

4) Take sides of foil and bring them together, fold to seal shut. Fold or roll up the two remaining open ends, to be sure that the ingredients are completely sealed and encased in the foil packet.

5) Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and open foil packet carefully: there will be a lot of steam trapped inside and it will be hot. Transfer to plate and serve over rice or couscous- it pairs extremely well with this Turmeric-Lime Couscous recipe.

The great thing about foil packets is that you can tailor the recipe to the likes and dislikes of a specific person. One of my family members hates fish… with a passion! So, whenever I make fish, I make some other kind of meat as well, and foil packets are a wonderful solution to that predicament. Instead of fish, for her, I used pork.

The only difference I really had to accommodate for was baking time: while the fish packets bake for 15 minutes, the pork goes for 25 to 30 minutes. All I did was put the pork in first, then add the fish for the last 15 minutes.

Also, I really mushrooms, but no one else here does… so to my packet, I added oyster mushroom. (A lovely addition, by the way. If you like mushrooms, I highly recommend adding them here.)

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