Consider foil pouch grilling for Memorial Day. As we all look for ways to interact with friends and neighbors, some thoughtful preparation can make everyone feel safer and more comfortable. If you’re not in a quarantine bubble and are grilling with friends this Memorial Day, you may want to consider individual meals rather than shared plates. Foil pouches are a great way to package food so that it’s only touched by one individual after it’s cooked.
With experts recommending that gatherings stay outside as much as possible, foil pouches are an easy delivery system whether you’re cooking on the grill or baking inside for delivery to the porch or yard. If you invite picky eaters or want to offer your guests flavor choices, pouches can be tailored to individual tastes. This is a great option for those with food intolerance or allergies as well.
When creating individual pouches, the key is making sure you have a way to identify who each pouch belongs to. I like to draw a grid on a sheet of paper that matches the arrangement on my grill or pan. Once the food is done, I put the corresponding name on each pouch with freezer tape. If you’re less messy than I am, you can also use a marker.
Your protein choice may be limited to whatever is available this year. Flexibility will be key to keeping the experience positive. If you’re not sure what flavors to combine, a resource like The Flavor Bible can come in handy.
For the kids, pouches filled with frozen tater tots and meatballs, hot dogs, or burgers are great options. You can top with cheese or dairy-free cheese and provide condiments in individual packets.
Mac & cheese is a kid favorite as well. You’ll want to cook the mac & cheese before creating a pouch. If you have a gluten-free or dairy-free child to consider, look for small portions of microwaveable mac & cheese to keep it simple. Bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, and hot dogs go great with mac & cheese. If you have pizza sauce handy, create pizza flavored packs with mac & cheese, pizza sauce, and pepperoni.
Deconstructed kebabs are easily adapted to individual tastes. Beef kebabs with bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms will appeal to the more traditional grillers. You can also consider Greek flavors combining chicken, red bell pepper, red onion, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese; or go another direction with chicken satay and coconut rice. Choose Thai beef with quinoa, or barbecue chicken with pineapple. The combinations are really limitless and easily adapted to the items available in your area.
Shepherd’s pie can be baked in foil pouches. You can also combine mashed potatoes, fresh spinach and browned breakfast sausage for a variation on this theme. Whatever the flavors, cooking in foil keeps the meat moist and the food warm until you’re ready to serve.
For the comfort of your family and friends, provide drinks in individual cans or bottles rather than pouring from shared bottles and pitchers. Choose prepackaged individual snacks containing nuts, fruit, cheese, trail mix, or chips to accompany your foil pouches. Offer individually packaged condiments, salt, and pepper. You may also want to provide masks, and hand sanitizer (if you can find it) or hand wipes.
There are many different levels of comfort regarding social interactions at this moment. If someone chooses to decline your invitation, wear gloves, bring their own food, or not eat at all, please remember it is not necessarily about you or your food. It is most likely about their understanding of risk and the level of risk they are willing to assume.
We are learning. Recommendations change. Studies will be replaced by larger and better studies. No one will know what facts are supported by the most meticulous science for a great while. And getting it exactly right at this moment may not be as important to someone as feeling safe. (Being safe may be the penultimate goal, but is somewhat elusive without complete isolation.)
Tolerance is a precious gift. I wish it for you and I wish it from you. For me, at multiple moments in March and April, tolerance has been as hard to find as toilet paper. This feels personally sad and culturally worrisome. We can do better.
We have been offered a great opportunity to learn in the form of unavoidable change. We can choose to resist or to grow. Surrendering to change is required for both resiliency and growth. While you relax and enjoy foil pouch grilling for Memorial Day, please remember that now is the time to choose thoughtfully and carefully.