These Foil-Packet Dinners Will Save You Time, Money & Dishes

We might not always have fresh fruit or enough spices, but aluminum foil is a kitchen constant that saves our asses on a regular basis. None of the Tupperware lids match the actual Tupperware? That's nothing a little foil can't fix. Ordered takeout for two so there are leftovers for the week? Break out the foil! But the magical wrap's most instrumental use actually has nothing to do with saving food at all— we should really be using it as a cooking vessel.

Foil packets usually show up during grilling season, but there's no reason we can't make packets for quick-bake dinners all year long. And the best part? There's hardly any cleanup. Assemble your meal on a sheet or two, fold, and you'll have a cheap, healthy dinner on the table before you can even say takeout.

Ahead, find four foil-packet meals that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less. We've got next week's dinners on lock.

Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
Orange-Ginger Chicken With Bok Choy
This 30-minute chicken dinner is better than takeout and comes with the same amount of cleanup. Added bonus: you won't have to deal with your delivery person giving that knowing look — Seamless again?
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
Orange-Ginger Chicken With Bok Choy
Serves 2
Total time: 28 minutes

Ingredients
1/4 cup juice and 2 tsps finely grated zest from 1 orange
2 tbps safflower or olive oil
2 tbps soy sauce
1 tbps finely grated fresh ginger
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and grated
3/4 tsp mild honey
3/4 pound baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Toasted sesame oil, optional
Cooked long grain rice, for serving

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together orange juice and zest, oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and honey.

2. Lay two 18-inch lengths of foil on a flat surface and divide bok choy among each in a single layer in the center of each piece. Lay chicken across the bok choy. Spoon the soy mixture over each piece of chicken trying to spread as much of the orange zest, garlic, and ginger on top of the chicken as possible.

3. Draw the foil up and around the chicken and fold down, creating a tightly sealed packet. You don’t want any of those juices running out.

(If you want to get really technical: Draw the two short ends of the foil up and together over the chicken and vegetables. Fold the top inch of foil over, then repeat, folding it down close to, but not touching, the chicken. Seal the ends of the packet by folding them like a present, drawing one corner towards the middle seam, then the other, then folding the resulting flap towards the center of the packet.)


4. Transfer the packets to a rimmed baking sheet and bake 18 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Use caution when opening packets, as steam will escape. Transfer chicken and vegetables to plates and top with scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil, if using. Serve with rice.
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
Salmon With Lemon-Thyme Potatoes & Greens
If cooking fish makes you nervous, what better time than now to tackle your fear of the great salmony unknown? This recipe is decidedly hands-off, but still brag-worthy once you pull it out of the oven.
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
Salmon With Lemon-Thyme Potatoes & Greens
Serves 2

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
4 cups baby kale or mixed baby cooking greens (I used Earthbound power mix that has baby kale, chard, and spinach.)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 baby gold potatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Finely grated zest from 1 lemon, plus wedges
2 skinless salmon filets, about 6 ounces each
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lay two 18-inch lengths of foil on a flat surface. Divide greens among the center of both pieces. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

2. In a medium bowl, toss potato slices with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Make a single layer ring around the outer edge of each pile of greens with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Season the fish with salt and pepper and lay each piece in the middle of the ring of potatoes. Sprinkle with lemon zest and thyme. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.

3. Draw the two short ends of the foil up and together over fish. Fold the top inch of foil over, then repeat, folding it down close to, but not touching, the fish. Seal the ends of the packet by folding them like a present, drawing one corner towards the middle seam, then the other, then folding the resulting flap towards the center of the packet.

4. Transfer the packets to a rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Use caution when opening packets, as steam will escape. Serve with lemon wedges.
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
Garlicky Shrimp With Zucchini & Tomato
If you're sick of cooking same two proteins all the time (because you're just trying to find the fastest possible meal you can cook before This Is Us starts), expand your weeknight repertoire with shrimp packets. They bake in 15 minutes, flat, and you can have a fancy-ass date with yourself while you bawl your eyes out over your regularly scheduled Tuesday-evening dramas.
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
Garlicky Shrimp With Zucchini & Tomato
Serves 2
Total Time: 23 minutes

Ingredients
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slice
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, drained (you can reserve this liquid for another use)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 pound extra-large (16/20 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined
Lemon wedges, for serving
Crusty bread, for serving

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Lay two 18-inch lengths of foil on a flat surface. Divide zucchini evenly among the centers of each piece. Top with drained tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine garlic and butter. Spread evenly over one side of each shrimp and arrange them in a single layer, butter-side up, on top of zucchini mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Draw the two short ends of the foil up and together over the shrimp and zucchini. Fold the top inch of foil over, then repeat, folding it down close to, but not touching, the ingredients. Seal the ends of the packet by folding them like a present, drawing one corner towards the middle seam, then the other, then folding the resulting flap towards the center of the packet.

4. Transfer the packets to a rimmed baking sheet and bake 16 minutes. Use caution when opening packets, as steam will escape. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
Sausage, White Beans & Spinach
If you can buy pre-cooked sausage, you can make this meal. It's that easy, and yet somehow still makes you feel way more accomplished than when you opt for plain-old pasta and store-bought sauce.
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
Sausage, White Beans & Spinach
Serves 2
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
4 lightly packed cups baby spinach
1 cup cooked Cannellini beans
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 cooked sausages of choice, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 pinch red chili flakes
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Lay two 18-inch lengths of foil on a flat surface. Divide spinach among the center of both pieces. Sprinkle beans and garlic over the spinach. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange sausage slices evenly over the greens and beans. Top with chili flakes.

3. Draw the two short ends of the foil up and together over the sausage and beans. Fold the top inch of foil over, then repeat, folding it down close to, but not touching, the ingredients. Seal the ends of the packet by folding them like a present, drawing one corner towards the middle seam, then the other, then folding the resulting flap towards the center of the packet.

4. Transfer the packets to a rimmed baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Use caution opening the packets, as steam will escape. Top with Parmesan cheese.
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh; food styling by Brett Kurzweil; prop styling by Chloe Daley.
And there you have it, four easy weeknight dinners with hardly any cleanup required. If you're feeling inspired and decide you want to meal prep the fuck out of the next week, you can always double the recipes and make a bunch of individual packets to save for later. Just dump the contents into Tupperware containers after pulling them out of the oven and you'll be one of the people who induce jealousy on the regular with your packed-lunch prowess.