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Oct 5, 2012 08:54 PM

Foil packet meals

CHers, I'm looking for some simple ideas for foil packet (or hobo or pouch) meals for my mom. She's 93 and has had a mild stroke. We have caretakers for her round the clock and they prepare meals for her, but they are sorely lacking. Mom has always been a good cook - simple but very tasty foods is what she's used to. On my visit to her last weekend the first thing she said to me was that these people can't cook. Also, they really have no idea what she should be eating - which is good variety of vegetables, fruit, and protein. Low fat and low sodium, etc. I'm getting together a notebook of diet guidelines, cooking tips, simple healthy recipes and so forth that they can keep and refer to as they plan her meals.

One of the things that I think those who aren't very good cooks can make for her are simple pouch meals in foil packets. I'm thinking chicken and fish. I'd love to hear any ideas CHers may have for tried and true combinations. A little background is that she lives in a very small Southern town. Basics are readily available but more esoteric ingredients aren't.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Get some IQF fish from Trader Joes or Costco (a nice white fish works best like halibut or cod). Get some frozen spinach and put it on a sheet of foil, place the frozen fish on the bed if spinach, dust the fish with some salt and pepper and pour a bit of soy sauce on the fish, then garnish with some sliced ginger and green onions, then bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.

    With chicken I would do a faux chicken parm. Take a chicken breast, top it with crushed tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, minced garlic and a cheese of your choice. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks, ipsedixit, I like the faux chicken parm idea. My usual is a piece of fish, veggies, some herbage, and flavorful liquid. I like going in another direction with it. Thanks!

    2. I'm not sure why you would need a foil pouch dinner. I think I would be more inclined to make a bunch of reheat meals for her. Ones you know she will like. Take them over in plastic containers.

      If you insist on foil, try poached chicken breasts. When I was a Boy Scout, we used to make a layer of potatoes, a layer of carrots and a hamburger patty or a chicken breast on top and wrap it all in foil.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Hank Hanover

        Well, I hadn't anticipated that she would only be eating these meals. The plan is for my sister (who is an excellent cook as am I) to go over in a couple of weeks and have a cooking week or weekend for her. The drive is seven hours for me and three for her so we can't just pop in every few days. We will put up soups and some composed meals in the freezer. I do want to have some simple recipes that the caregivers can make fresh for her. They aren't entirely incompetent just challenged as to nutrition and method.

        Thanks for the ideas, everyone. Keep em coming!

      2. what about working with a personal chef to prepare meals that can go in the fridge or freezer? Maybe not in her town-- but is there are larger population nearby?

        4 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          There is not really anything like that in the area, sunshine842. And frankly, we can't really afford that. The 24/7 service is already costing us about $8000 a month. We're hoping to be able to manage this ourselves.

          1. re: Leepa

            in some larger cities (including in the south) -- it's actually surprisingly reasonable...but if it's not there, the affordability is a moot point anyway.

            There are places that exist just to cook ahead for several weeks at a time - you could look at the websites to get some inspirations of ways to adapt it to your collective abilities...then the aides could warm that up, add a veg/salad, and you'd know your mom was being taken care of.

            There was also a long thread not too long ago about cooking ahead and quick-prepare solutions for working parents of young children -- this could also be very adaptable to your situation, as it involves a lot of similar constraints.

            ETA: found it:

            1. re: sunshine842

              Thanks. I think we've thought this through very well. It's not that I don't appreciate your advice. We think this is what is going to work for our mom. Perhaps I failed to mention that I have two other siblings - a brother and sister - who live right there in town with her. My sister does her grocery shopping but has zero interest in cooking. My brother is quite a good cook but has a busy stressful job and, though he sees her a couple of times a day, he can't prepare her meals for her. Relying on the caregivers to prepare meals for her, which is actually part of what we're paying them for, seems to be the best plan. I just need to give those who aren't as capable as others some ideas as to what to make given what she should be eating (not commercial frozen dinners!) and how to do it.

              Thanks. I really do just want combinations for foil packet dinners. All the other advice, while appreciated, has already been thought of and implemented or not based on what is available in her area and what we think she needs.

          2. If your Mom likes seafood, you could parboil some vegetables and add these to the base of your foil packages and layer a fish selection over the top, perhaps with a light lemon sauce. From there you could use the same type of base with a choice of protein cooked in a light sauce, layered on top of your vegetables. You can also have some mashed vegetables layered over meat and protein.
            Your Mom might find that her caregivers cannot cook based on her dietary limitations. If she cannot have sodium and her diet is restricted the food cooked for her might seem bland. I cooked prepared low sodium, low potassium meals for my Dad, he certainly was not impressed with anything that I cooked for him.
            I really understand your dilemna, elderly people at some point should not be cooking and having the meals done in advance ready to go helps to ensure that they eat according to their diet and limits kitchen activity. Since your Mom has caretakers having the meals done in advance also ensures her diet is overseen and the focus remains on her during her day.

            1 Reply