Personalize your plate with foil packet meals

Personalize your plate with foil packet meals

Every year in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. Below is a meal prepping strategy that embodies this year’s theme to “Personalize Your Plate.” The Boy Scouts call these types of meals “silver turtles.” More commonly referred to as “foil packet meals,” each packet contains a meat or meat alternative, vegetables and starch of choice. If you are going lower carb, you can easily omit the starch.

How to make you own Foil Packet Meals (aka Silver Turtles)

Step 1: Determine how many packets you would like to make.

  • Start small and make 4 to 6 packets your first time.

Step 2: Purchase the meat, vegetables, starch and seasoning combinations you decided on.

Step 3: Prepare Ingredients

  • Cut up meat into individual portions
  • Chop vegetables and potatoes (if starch of choice) – use precut fresh or frozen vegetables or frozen dices potatoes to save time.
  • Combine seasonings or use a premade seasoning blend – if you make your own, you can better control the sodium content.

Step 4: Assemble Packets

  • Lay out precut foil pieces – They need to be large enough to fold in the sides and completely cover/contain the contents. Having too much foil is better than not having enough.
  • Spray the foil with nonstick spray
  • Divide protein, vegetable, and starch choices evenly among the packets.
  • Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil or oil of choice over contents of each packet – omit this step to save 40 calories.
  • Sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of seasoning choice over the contents of each packet.

Step 5: Cook Now versus Freeze

  • If you freeze them, place foil packets in gallon size baggies. Position them in the freezer so that they are lying flat and freeze in that position.

Step 6: Defrost

  • Place frozen packet in the fridge in the morning.
  • When you get home that evening, it will be defrosted and ready to put in the oven.

Reasons why I like Foil Packet Meals:

  • Easy way to get in more vegetables.
  • Steam cooks the meats so they do not dry out in packet.
  • Prevents overeating by being proportioned.
  • Clean up is easy (just throw away foil packet).
  • During warmer months, you can cook it on the grill instead of in the oven.

Sample Recipe: Italian Chicken Bake

Ingredients for each packet- Sliced Chicken Breast (4 ounces), 1 cup Frozen Broccoli, ½ cup Sliced Zucchini, ½ cup Frozen Diced Potatoes, 1 teaspoon Olive Oil, 1 teaspoon of Italian Dressing Seasoning Dry Mix (sold in packets and typically used to make your own Italian Dressing)


After assembled and folded, place foil packets flat on a baking sheet. Cook in 400 degree preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken cooks all the way through.

Nutrition Informational  per packet
Calories: 251; Fat: 8g; Carbohydrates: 18g; Protein: 29g


Jessica Meek, MS, RD, LD

Jessica Meek, MS, RD, LD, developed a passion for nutrition during her teenage years and strongly believes in the healing power food. After completing her undergraduate and master degree program at Ohio University, she became a registered dietitian in 2006. She has been practicing professionally for over 10 years in the tristate area. She uses her knowledge of nutrition to empower individuals living with diabetes to make positive lifestyle changes and lead healthier lives. Jessica is a dietitian with the Bruce Chertow Diabetes Center.