If you want to impress your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, try surprising her (or him) with some new dining skills that will allow you to feel more confident, composed, and self-assured.
After all, everyone looks more attractive when they look like they know what they are doing!
Here are 10 etiquette skills to have under your belt before your Valentine's Day date:
1. Have a small snack before you go: If you are going out on a first date and feeling a bit nervous, eat a small snack so you will be able to handle your first glass of wine without getting woozy. It’s also a little extra insurance that your stomach won’t be growling over the dazzling dinner conversation.
2. Stay away from your Valentine’s wine glass: If you aren’t sure which water or wine glass is yours, make a "B" and "D," (under the table please), and remind yourself that your "B" (bread plate) is on the left and your "D" (drink/s) are on the right of your place setting. Now you can pick up your glass and toast her with confidence.
3. Let your valentine order their own meal: While you may think it’s chivalrous to order for your date, it is also 2013 and the gesture can come across as a bit patronizing. Be ready with some menu suggestions but when it comes time to order, allow her to go first and speak for herself.
4. Steer clear from the cherry tomatoes: While your mother was correct, your greens make you big and strong, those delicious cherry tomatoes can be a tiny time bomb ready to explode all over your beautiful clothes, or worse, your Valentine date. Opt for a chopped salad or field green mix and leave the cherry tomatoes on the side. Diving into a whole, plump little cherry tomato is really not worth the risk.
5. Neckties stay in place and other clothing details: Do not sling your necktie over your shoulder to avoid getting it soiled with your food. Keep your coat jacket on for a formal occasion and by all means avoid ordering lobster or wearing a lobster bib on your first date. You don’t want to finish a lovely Valentine meal with the telltale scent of lobster on your hands or face.
6. Salt and pepper travel together: When your date asks you for the salt, pass the duo together to keep them close throughout the meal. It’s not necessary to give a brief dining tutorial, simply say "Just in case you wanted the pepper."
7. Spaghetti is for twirling: Unless you are a young child, never cut up your spaghetti as if you may choke on large pieces of food. Twirl a couple of strands, use a spoon for assistance if you wish, and bite off the end of the spaghetti at the edge of the fork. A better option would be to order the rigatoni and take the pressure off of you, and save your tie or sweater from an inevitable splash of sauce.
8. Excuse me please: That’s all you have to say. While you may feel compelled to announce to the entire table the reason for your temporary exit, it’s far worse to say "I’m going to the restroom to…" A quiet "Please excuse me, I’ll be right back" is all that is necessary. And guys — don’t ask where she’s going!
9. Plan a thoughtful Valentine toast: Mark Twain said, "It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech," it shouldn’t take you that long to plan a short and sweet toast to the one you love, or like! The key to a good toast is to make sure it is heartfelt and sincere. You get points for effort so don’t worry about being perfect, just be authentic.
10. Skip the toothpick: Much like the lobster bib, sucking on a small wooden stick does nothing to polish your image or refine your social skills. If you feel the need to clean your teeth, make a quick detour to the restroom and take care of your business out of the public eye.
Is It Ever Appropriate to Correct Someone's Table Manners?
The short answer is no according to etiquette experts.
Whether you&aposre inspired to gently correct a coworker who has her elbows on the table at a company dinner or you can&apost stop yourself from criticizing the way your partner chews with his mouth open, trying to improve someone else&aposs table manners is nearly always an uncomfortable conversation. Which is why experts agree you have only one polite recourse for addressing the way someone else behaves at the table: ignore it completely.
"Correcting someone else&aposs mistake is an implicit form of criticism," says Sharon Schweitzer of Access to Culture𠅊nd even implicit criticism is generally impolite. "Since etiquette is fluid, and rests on a foundation of consideration, respect, and honesty, correcting someone publicly would sting. It wouldn&apost reflect consideration for others or self-respect that person and others at the table wouldn&apost ever feel comfortable in your presence again," she says. In short: "It&aposs better to mind your own manners," says Schweitzer, "rather than someone else&aposs manners."
Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas, agrees. "There is no way to politely correct another person&aposs table manners without running the risk of insulting them or hurting their feelings," she says. "Chances are, unless you have had some formal training—not your grandmother&aposs manners—you don&apost know all of the rules, either."
Some table manners vary by cuisine or tradition, points out Daniel Post Senning of The Emily Post Institute, which means drawing attention to a fellow diner who isn&apost sure which fork to start with or where his bread plate is can create an embarrassing moment (for both of you). "That&aposs trickier, because it&aposs not about someone&aposs decisions in the moment, it&aposs about their exposure to those traditions," he says. "It can end up feeling like you&aposre calling someone out for not knowing." So, offer a helpful, private assist if you notice that someone is unsure or uncomfortable with a phrase like, "You know, something I always do is…" which doesn&apost draw attention to a mistake. This may be better received, or even appreciated. "I call it the &aposbroccoli on the tooth&apos rule," he says. "If you can help someone avoid awkwardness or embarrassment by addressing something a little awkward or difficult, most people will appreciate it."
Though correcting a family member or friend is just as rude as correcting a stranger, you have one advantage: Your loved one knows you mean well. "If it&aposs something that&aposs egregious and correctable, there is a spirit of friendly assist that you can use with people you are close to," says Senning, noting, again, it&aposs often best to just skip over the error. "It&aposs hard to address anyone&aposs behavior about anything and eating is such a personal thing, such a habitual action—it can be really hard."
Good etiquette is about making people comfortable, which means pointing out a manners mistake—like the way someone reaches across the table for the salt and pepper or slurps her soup—is often worse than the mistake itself. "Keep in mind that the Queen of England regularly overlooks breaches of royal etiquette without so much as a raised eyebrow," says Schweitzer. "In fact, she has been known to mimic minor faux pas that her guests have committed to prevent them from feeling any awkwardness." And if you insist on calling attention to someone else&aposs gaffe, prepare yourself for the backlash. "A manners mistake—not a big deal," says Senning. "A mistake of character—that really matters."
Good dining etiquette begins long before you sit down at the table. If you&rsquore invited to a dinner party, be sure to RSVP, even if a response isn&rsquot specifically requested, and don&rsquot ask if you may bring someone who isn&rsquot part of the invitation. When you arrive, don&rsquot do so empty-handed. &ldquoA hostess gift, which can be anything from candles or wine to flowers, chocolates or guest soaps, is never a bad idea," says Whitmore. "It&rsquos a nice, much-appreciated gesture.&rdquo
If you do bring a bouquet of blooms, try to make sure they&rsquore in a vase, so your hosts won&rsquot have to take time to arrange them. And don&rsquot expect the bottle of wine you brought to be opened that evening. Chances are, your hosts have already chosen the wines they&rsquoll be serving. That&rsquos true of the menu too&mdashleave the home-cooked dish at home, unless the event is a potluck. You don&rsquot want to put your hosts on the spot.
37 Best Valentine's Day Songs That Are Perfect for Serenading Your Special Someone
Sometimes, even the best Valentine's Day wishes fail when we're trying to express how much we care for that special person in our life. Luckily, there are plenty of talented musicians and singers who can sum it all up for us!
We've rounded up some of the best Valentine's Day songs ever, as well as the greatest love songs of all time, to create a romantic soundtrack to your Valentine&rsquos Day. Whether you're going all out or you're just staying in for an intimate Valentine's Day dinner, these tunes have the most romantic song lyrics to set the mood immediately. The list features obvious love song heavy hitters, like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Etta James. While there are plenty of songs about Valentine's Day, including tracks from Bruce Springsteen and Fiona Apple, we've made sure to include some classic country love songs too, like Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You."
Use these songs in addition to some Valentine's Day quotes to show how much you care. No matter how you plan on spending the day, whether it's getting comfy for a Valentine's Day movie marathon or going on a romantic day trip, these Valentine&rsquos Day songs will create a wonderfully dreamy backdrop to your celebration of love.
They lyrics to this Beatles classic are certainly tender and sweet&mdashbut the accompanying music video starring the Fab Four and their significant others really brings "Something" into the tear-jerker status of all-time great love songs.
Cliché in all the right ways, this love ballad about growing old with your loved one became an instant classic the moment it was released.
While this song has been covered hundreds of times, Frank Sinatra's version of this famous Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart tune is unbeatable.
American rock band The Replacements put this song out on their fifth studio album in 1987, Pleased to Meet Me.
This moving, earnest song might say everything you need to this Valentine's Day.
If you're trying to find the right words to ask that special someone out, this crooning 1962 track will do all the talking for you.
This song is said to be a play on Valentine's Day candy hearts, but personalized for the narrator's lover.
The song was featured on Bruce Springsteen's 1987 album Tunnel of Love, which is ranked on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest albums of all time.
This track keeps it short and simple, asking the classic line, "Won't you be my Valentine?"
The Australian quartet released this song in 2018, which the band described as the "ultimate Valentine's Day song" on their YouTube channel.
The Beatle features Eric Clapton in his 2011 song, while Natalie Portman stars in the music video.
The popular a capella group reimagined this song originally created by Jessie Ware, along with a beautiful music video.
This romantic tune is sure to remind you and yours what you really mean to each other.
The pop punk band's single was featured on the soundtrack for the 2009 horror dark comedy flick Jennifer's Body.
Be warned: You might have this catchy song stuck in your head for weeks!
This duet was the first charting track of jazz performer, producer, and composer Norman Connors, which features vocals from Michael Henderson and Jean Carne.
Taking a more somber tone, Fiona Apple sings about being in the wake of a former love, knowing they didn't see her Valentine.
For those with the Valentine's Day blues, this song from the English singer-songwriter is for you.
André 3000 humorously sings about how Cupid gets overshadowed by big holiday characters like Santa and the Easter Bunny.
Though not about Valentine's Day, this 2006 hit sings about being strangled by Cupid's love, borrowing Supertramp's "Breakfast in America" melody and lyric for the chorus.
While you might've thought this was just a sweet song about love, it was actually penned in response to critics saying Paul McCartney only wrote "silly love songs" to which he replies, "What's wrong with that?"
The jazz legend released this famous song on his 1965 album by the same name, and has been covered by artists like Michael Bublé and even his daughter, Natalie Cole.
Etta James's captivating cover of this 1941 song has cemented itself as one of the top love songs of all time.
The Beatles first released this song during 1967's "Summer of Love" with a message that really can't be denied.
Arguably one of the most famous love songs, Elton John's beautiful tune was famously adapted for the 2001 movie musical Moulin Rouge!.
Not all love songs have to be slow and serious, like Stevie Wonder's uptempo spin on this hit that you can't help but dance to.
While the Whitney Houston cover is an undeniable classic, Dolly Parton's original version is slower and written as a farewell to Porter Wagoner before she went solo.
Freddie Mercury dedicated this ballad to his ex Mary Austin and is featured on Queen's 1975 album A Night at the Opera.
There are few love ballads that are as enchanting as this Elvis track, which stood the test of time and has been covered countless times.
Roberta Flack made this song an international hit with her breathtaking 1972 recording.
This is perhaps the newest classic love song that's become incredibly popular over the last decade. It's from John's fourth studio album, "Love in the Future."
Your valentine doesn't need to get you anything fancy this year&mdashall you need is them, just like this song says.
Several people have covered this Bob Dylan tune, but Adele's version is undeniably soulful and romantic.
Named one of the greatest duets of all time by Billboard , your Valentine's Day playlist has to have this classic track.
While this song has been covered dozens of times, the Elvis original is one that can't be beat.
It doesn't get much more romantic than this love song that anyone who's waited a long time to find their other half can relate to.
This goosebump-inducing classic ballad deserves a spot on every romantic playlist.
Baking is a science. It's crucial to follow a recipe closely when whipping meringue, forming chocolate chip cookies, or building a layer cake. If you're a new baker or just want to get back to basics, these essential recipes are the ones you want to spend some time perfecting.
Let's start with the ultimate in basic baking recipes: the Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies pictured here. Some recipes promise a thin and crispy texture or extra-cakey chocolate chip cookie, but this version offers the perfect balance of both. When prepping your ingredients, make sure to use room temperature butter and eggs, which will help them to incorporate more evenly into the cookie dough. Another classic cookie recipe is Snickerdoodles, the cinnamon-sugar duo that's a guaranteed winner in this sweet, spiced, and everything nice treat.
Of course, there are a couple of classic pie recipes that everyone should master. Our Old-Fashioned Apple Pie is standard, but absolutely spectacular. A combination of spices and the zest and juice of a lemon build all the flavors of fall in the filling. Another autumnal classic is our Perfect Pumpkin Pie, which has the creamy texture everyone at your Thanksgiving table will love. Achieve the perfect crimped edge, crispy bottom, and golden brown crust with our versatile pâte brisée recipe.
From perfect sugar cookies to all-star chewy brownies to Classic New York-Style Cheesecake, become a master baker with these essential baked good recipes.
Become a Certified Etiquette Consultant through The Etiquette School of America
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A Beginner’s Guide to Fine Dining
You’ve gone and done it. You’ve saved your pennies (read: made available some credit card balance) and made your first reservation at one of those restaurants. You know the kind—white tablecloths, amuse bouches , mother-of-pearl caviar spoons and the like. Your fanatical consumption of all things food media has been leading up to this, your personal gastronomic Mount Everest.
Recreate the Experience At Home How to Make Your S.O. Think You’re a Professional Chef When you called to make your reservation, though, you couldn’t help but notice that your palms began to sweat and you began babbling in a bizarre tongue that can best be described as “attempt to speak with cosmopolitan swagger meets having a stroke.” Subconsciously you must believe that even talking with a member of the restaurant’s staff requires something of an elevated mien, nevermind that the reservationist is likely a 22 year-old college student simultaneously Snapchatting while taking your call. Could it be that you are nervous?
Fear not, your nerves are normal and not at all unfounded. While the whole point of treating oneself to a meal in a fine dining restaurant is pleasure, not knowing entirely what to expect or how to behave can lead to some uneasiness, at least for the hyper-socially-conscious among us. The purpose of this guide is to walk you through certain aspects of the experience so you can relax and enjoy it. You had to call three months in advance for your reservation. You don’t want to spend the three hours actually in the restaurant on edge.
No matter what, remember that the name of the game is hospitality, and the ultimate goal of the staff is not to catch you out as some hopeless rube, but to ensure that you have the best experience possible, whether you are a practiced fine-diner or a first-timer, and whether your budget is modest or enviable. Here are some moments to look out for which might not be obvious how to navigate.
The Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining, $12.95 on Amazon
And there are entire books on the subject if you're still feeling unsure.
Unburden Yourself, Literally & Metaphorically
Leave your preconceived notions at the door, along with your coat or cumbersome bag. This is not only for your benefit so you feel uncluttered, but also so the staff can easily get around your table without tripping over the tails of your North Face.
Know Thy Cocktail
You may be asked if you’d like to start with a cocktail or glass of Champagne before any menus are even presented to you. If you have a go-to classic drink such as a martini or Manhattan and (this is important) you are interested in drinking one, then feel free to call for it. But you are not obligated to do so, and simply asking to see a cocktail or wine list at this time is the way to proceed, especially if there’s a chance you might blurt out “Slippery Nipple!” left to your own devices.
New World Food Order: Communication is Key
It’s generally best if everyone at the table agrees to the same type of menu, whether it’s three-course, six-course, chef’s tasting menu, etc. This may or may not be restaurant policy, but it will make for a more graceful experience when everyone is on the same timeline.
Speak up about any food allergies and even aversions you may have. You have every right to your own preferences, but then let the captain suggest accommodations, or consult with the kitchen to create a bespoke menu for you. Tasting menus are not meant to be choose-your-own adventure opportunities for you to mix-and-match.
Putting the “Yay” in Sommelier
The very term “sommelier” can strike fear into the heart of even the most practiced fine dining guests, conjuring images of some sneering French-person trying to upsell you into something as unpronounceable as it is cost-prohibitive. The key to communicating with a member of the wine team is honesty, and an open mind—which goes even further than having an open wallet. Be honest about what you like, what you know (don’t overplay it), and how much you would like to spend. If you are self-conscious about naming a price range in front of a date or client, pointing to an item on the list that is near to your target is perfectly fine. Hear them out for suggestions on pairings, even if it’s something you’ve never heard of.
Grasping the Grape: Demystifying Grape Varieties to Help You Discover the Wines You Love, $10.57 on Amazon
This approachable guide will help you brush up before you go.
Inviting Emily Post: Mind Your Manners
No need to hire an etiquette coach and behave as though you are auditioning to be a dining room extra on “Downton Abbey,” but a touch of refinement to your normal restaurant behavior could be welcome. You can revel in the most effortless service by keeping your tabletop—and especially the space between your fork and knife where plates must land—free from cell phones, purses, eye glasses, and your limbs. There is a lot of coordinated effort to both presenting your dishes and clearing your table, so allow the space for these flourishes to happen.
Check Your Impulse for Control at the Door
In modern fine dining, you will be set with new silverware for each course specific to what you ordered, so you need not worry about which of five available spoons to use. However, any settings that are put on the table, including bread plates/knives, glassware, etc., should stay relatively where they are placed. Try to resist your urge to rearrange everything. Expanding this tenet to the meal in general (and hearkening back to tip number one about abandoning preconceptions), try to relax and enjoy the evening as it unfolds. The staff knows what they’re doing, and will guide you if you need assistance.
Play With Your Food
Don’t take everything extremely seriously. If it seems like something is meant to be eaten with your hands, do it. Certain things are never meant to be eaten with a fork and knife, so if it looks like the restaurant is trying to do something irreverent or playful, they probably are. You are more likely to be targeted as a rube if you’re sawing away with utensils at something that looks suspiciously like an ice cream cone or slider. (But also, you do you—within reason, of course.)
Hostage Situation: How to Get Out
Tetra Images / Getty Images
You will probably have to ask for the check. Excellent restaurants should never rush you out, or even hint that they need your table back by presenting the check automatically. Your captain may ask a leading question such as, “Is there anything else you need?”—but unless you state that you want the check, you will probably be the last guests in the dining room.
The goal of fine dining hospitality is an experience that feels like it happened for you, not to you, so allow for all those gracious moments to happen, and do your part to ensure that they can happen seamlessly. In short, lean into the hospitality, but lean away from the table.
27 Romantic Things to Do on Valentine's Day That You'll Never Forget
There is so much pressure to make Valentine's Day extra-special each year, but we're here to remind you that the most important Valentine's Day gift is time spent together. (We're not saying that there's anything wrong with "receiving gifts" being your love language!) Whatever you decide to do on Valentine's Day this year, you can't go wrong with a thoughtful and sweet card. Need a little help putting your feelings into words? These Valentine's Day wishes and messages will help you express how you feel to your loved one.
If food is the way to your honey's heart, a surprise breakfast in bed or a fancy, at-home Valentine's Day dinner for two (or both!) might be the way to go. Try a virtual cooking class for a truly unforgettable meal. Not in the mood to clean up the kitchen? Order takeout from one of your favorite restaurants near you (you can't go wrong with a heart-shaped pizza). Then cozy up together in your winter finest (did you say comfy PJs on the sofa?) and settle in for a romantic Valentine's Day movie marathon. No matter how you choose to celebrate, we've rounded up a list of some of the absolute best things to do with your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend for a memorable Valentine's Day 2021.
When was the last time you played a game with just the two of you? Pick a favorite from the closet, or try a new couple's themed game, like Talk, Flirt, Dare or Our Moments.
Spend some time putting together playlists for each other on your favorite streaming service. Choose songs that spark memories of your relationship or simply tunes you know your significant other will love. Then pour some wine, turn on the music, and reminisce.
Even if it's cold where you live, taking a scenic hike is a great way to unplug and unwind this Valentine's Day. Maybe there's a favorite spot where you live, or you might want to try one of the best hikes in the U.S. Either way, you're bound to have a fun time because you're in great company.
Learn how to craft cocktails with a James Beard honoree who has been at the forefront of the NYC craft cocktail movement and the founder of the world&rsquos best bar, and become each other's favorite bartender.
Is there a landmark in your town that you've always wanted to visit? Or a museum you've never seen? Become tourists in your own home and finally check off one or two of those bucket list items you keep putting off. Get into the role by snapping tons of pictures throughout the day.
Is brunch your favorite meal to eat together? Build the waffles of your dreams by setting up a DIY waffle bar. All you need is some waffle batter, a waffle maker, and all the toppings your hearts desire. Try the Sautéed Apples, Pear & Cranberries shown here.
Even partners who aren't so into crafts will get a kick out of this fun activity. Gather up photos of your relationship, old ticket stubs, and meaningful receipts, and make a beautiful book that you'll both treasure!
Baking is a fun way to spend more time with your significant other. And you'll have a sweet reward to enjoy together, like these Caramel-Chocolate-Walnut Thumbprint Cookies.
Whip up a delicious breakfast spread on Valentine's Day and enjoy it lounging in bed. It will be a nice change of pace from the usual morning hustle and bustle.
No destination? No problem. All you need for this fun Valentine's Day activity is a sense of adventure and a full tank of gas! You'll both get out of your comfort zones while you explore new terrain. There's no telling what you might stumble across.
Wine and chocolate: Both delicious on their own, but even better together! Base your tasting off our easy-to-follow chocolate and wine pairings guide, or make up your own!
Take the day off from work and enjoy some R&R. Have breakfast in bed, do a crossword together, and binge-watch your favorite shows. Reminisce about how and why you two first fell in love.
Try your hand at some DIY Valentine's Day crafts at home. Consider an art project that you can hang somewhere in the house or craft creative picture frames for favorite photos.
A special home-cooked meal can be so much more romantic than going out to eat at a super busy restaurant. Even if one of you doesn't have chef-worthy skills, you can still make a memorable dinner you'll both enjoy.
If you've never done it before, now's the time to put in writing why your partner is so special to you. Tell them which of their qualities you most admire, how they make you feel, and why you fell in love with them.
Grab the popcorn and settle in on the couch for an evening filled with your favorite rom-coms, like these favorite Valentine's Day movies.
No, February 14 doesn't have to be all about presents, but it is nice to give&mdashand receive&mdasha little token of affection. Consider purchasing an item your loved one has always wanted or even just gifting a DIY Valentine's Day card.
Pretend like you're in the City of Love this Valentine's Day. Make sweet (or savory!) crepes, share a bottle of wine, and put on some romantic music to set the tone.
If gift-giving is your love language, send your significant other on a scavenger hunt dotted with trails of rose petals and handwritten clues to find their Valentine's Day gift.
Take a day or an entire weekend and venture to a destination neither of you have been before. You'll get out of your comfort zone and have a fabulous time doing it!
For a bubble bath worthy of a honeymoon suite, surround the tub with candles, sprinkle rose petals in the water, and set a tray of chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of Champagne within arm's reach.
Enjoy some Zen time together while stretching and breathing in sync.
Is there a skill you both want to brush up on? Learning something new together is a great way to bond. Try a cooking class, dance lesson, or golf clinic, or visit masterclass.com for more ideas.
Who cares if you (or he) can't carry a tune in a bucket? Have fun singing duets like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers' "Islands in the Stream," Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis's "Cruisin'," "You're the One That I Want" from Grease, or check out this list of the best country love songs for more inspiration.
If there's ever a time to make heart-shaped food, well, this is it! Pizza, strawberry pie, eggs in a basket, cupcakes. your imagination's the limit on this one. Or, take the low-effort route and order a heart-shaped pizza.
Open a bottle of your best vino, and ask each other these 36 questions scientifically proven to break intimacy barriers. Some you may already know the answer to ("How's your relationship with your mother?") while others are hypotheticals you've likely never posed ("If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?").
Grab a bottle of body oil, set the mood with candles and soft background music, and give your partner at least 30 minutes of massage therapy. They can thank you by returning the favor.
When you really want to impress your sweetheart, show off your skills the Singapore Sling. It combines the tastes of Benedictine and cherry brandy into a fascinating gin cocktail. Having dazzled drinkers for over a century, it still has that magic touch.
Cooking Around the Campfire: 9 Easy and Delicious Foil Packet Recipes
In the quest to streamline your camping trips, foil packet meals can be one of your greatest allies. It’s cooking at its simple best you take some ingredients, wrap them up in a foil parcel, and place the pouch in a campfire’s coals to cook. You can prepare these foil packets before you head out into Mother Nature, and they require no pots and pans, no plates, and no clean up. All you need is a fork and some fire. And, if you know what you’re doing, they can be incredibly tasty and satisfying. So today we’re going to cover the basics of foil packet cooking and provide you with some delicious recipes to try the next time you venture into the great outdoors.
Foil Packet Cooking Tips
- Use heavy duty foil. You don’t want the foil to rip and have ashes get in and your dinner leak out. If you use regular foil, double up on the sheets. If your food is heavy, and/or if you plan to eat directly from the pack, it’s a good idea to double up even on the heavy duty sheets.
- Spray the side of the foil on which you’re going to place the food with cooking spray before you add your ingredients and seal it up.
- When placing your ingredients on the sheet of foil, always put the meat on the bottom as it takes the longest to cook.
- Cook your foil packet on the fire’s coals, not in the fire itself. Ideally, you want to place the packet on a bed of coals about 2 inches thick.
- Hard, raw vegetables like carrots and potatoes take a long time to cook. If you don’t want to wait, use the canned variety.
- When cooking meat, throw in some high-moisture veggies like tomatoes and onions. This will keep the meat from drying out.
- Cooking times will depend on how hot the fire is and the kind of food in the packet. I generally err on the side of cooking it too long — this is the kind of food that you don’t need to be overly delicate with. Flip the packets over a few times during cooking, and open and check on how the food is progressing from time to time.
- When it’s finished cooking, open your foil packet carefully — it’s full of hot steam!
Making Your Foil Packs
Making a good foil pack is essential to foil dinner cooking success. There are a couple of different kinds of foil packs you can make depending on what you’re cooking.
The Flat Pack
The flat pack is best for foods like meat where you’re looking for more browning than steaming.
1. Place the food in the middle of the sheet of foil. If you needed to mix the ingredients up, do so in a separate bowl before transferring it to the foil.
2. Tear off a sheet of heavy-duty foil that is about twice as long as the food you’ll be wrapping. It’s better to overestimate the length than to place your food on it, start wrapping it up, and realize you don’t have enough foil to keep everything in and make your folds.
3. Bring the long sides together in the center and crease them together, making tight folds until the foil is flat next to the food.
4. Tightly roll up the shorter sides until they meet the food.
The Tent Pack
The tent pack provides a pocket of air that allows for greater steaming. Thus, it’s best for foods you want steamed like fruits, vegetables, and meat/vegetable combos.
1. Tear off a sheet of foil just as you would for the flat pack.
2. Place the food in the middle of the foil.
3. Bring the long sides together in the center and tightly fold them together towards the food. This time, stop folding a few inches before you get to the food, leaving a pocket of space and creating a “tent.”
4. Tightly roll up the shorter sides, again leaving an inch or so of space between the end of the fold and the food.
9 Easy and Delicious Foil Packet Recipes
You don’t have to limit foil packet cooking to camping. All of these recipes are also good when cooked on the grill. It’s an easy way to grill veggies. Above, I took some squash and zucchini and mixed it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Very nice.
I’ve tried to give somewhat exact measurements here, but honestly I just eyeball it, and I recommend doing likewise. Foil packet cooking is not an exact science. And these recipes represent just the basics — you can add all sorts of variations to them. The foil is your camping canvas and you can do whatever you’d like with it. All servings are for a single person unless otherwise indicated. Just double or triple the measurements according to your needs.
The Classic: Hamburger and Veg-All
- ½ lb ground hamburger meat
- ½ can of Veg-All or other mixed vegetables
- ½ can can of cream of mushroom soup
- spices and seasonings
Mix together the above ingredients with spices and condiments to your heart’s content. Place the mixture on the center of a sheet of foil, wrap in a tent pack, and place on hot coals for 25 minutes.
Sausage and Eggs
- 1 frozen hash brown patty
- 2 eggs, scrambled, uncooked
- 2 frozen sausage patties
- spices and seasonings
- cheese (optional)
Crimp the sides of your sheet of foil so that the eggs won’t go anywhere when you add them. First place your hash brown patty on the foil. Then place the eggs on top of the hash brown patty. Then place the sausage patties on top. Season with spices and condiments and wrap up in a tent pack.
Place on hot coals and cook for 15 minutes. Add the cheese when it’s ready (it turns out better than cooking it in the pack).
Muffins in an Orange Shell
Making muffins this way isn’t actually easier than baking them up at home, but it is infinitely cooler.
Mix up the muffin mix as instructed. Cut off the quarter top of the oranges. Carefully scoop out the pulp do not break the skin. Pour the muffin mix into the oranges. Wrap the oranges in foil, crimping the foil around the hole at top of the shell, but leaving it open.
Place the oranges upright in a stable position on hot coals and cook for about 10-15 minutes.
Makes six servings. Well, if you’re someone who can stop at one muffin.
Note: You can also cook eggs this way, but you’ll want to cover the whole orange shell with foil.
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 cup of broccoli
- 1/2 cup of prepared rice
- 1 can of cream of chicken soup
- ranch dressing
- cheddar cheese
Pound the chicken thinly as chicken can take awhile to cook.
Mix together the broccoli, soup, and cheese. Add spices and condiments. Place the chicken breast on the center of the foil. Top with the soup mix and then rice. Seal in a tent pack.
Cook on hot coals for about 25 minutes (the thicker your chicken breast, the longer it will take).
Catch of the Day
- Fish that you caught with your own manly hands and filleted
- ¼ cup of onions
- 1 tablespoon of butter, melted
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
Mix the melted butter with a dash of lemon juice and the above spices to taste (with the exception of the paprika). Place the onions on the foil sheet. Place the fish on top and sprinkle with paprika. Wrap the foil in a flat pack.
Place on hot coals and scoop some hot coals on top of the packet. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Apricot-Glazed Pork Chops
- 1 boneless pork chop
- 1/3 cup apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ package frozen stir-fry vegetates
- garlic powder, salt, pepper
Mix together the apricot preserves, the soy sauce, and any seasoning you’d like to add. Place the pork chop in the center of the sheet of foil. Spread half of the apricot sauce on top. Put the veggies on top/around the pork chop. Pour the rest of the sauce over the whole thing. Wrap in a tent pack. Place on hot coals and cook for 20 minutes.
- 1 turkey cutlet
- 1 cup of prepared stuffing
- ½ cup of turkey gravy
- ½ cup of green beans
- ¼ dried cranberries
- salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram
Place turkey cutlet on sheet of foil. Put the stuffing on top and the green beans around the cutlet. Pour gravy over everything and sprinkle with the dried cranberries and seasonings. Wrap in a tent pack and place on hot coals for 20 minutes.
Corn on the Cob
- 4 ears of shucked corn
- ¼ cup butter or olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
- salt and pepper
- 4 ice cubes
Place the ears of corn on a large sheet of foil. Spread the butter on top. Sprinkle with the seasonings and parmesan cheese. Put the ice cubes on top. Wrap up into a tent pack. Place on hot coals and cook for 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Pineapple Upside Donut Cake
- 1 ring of pineapple
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 cake donut
Place donut on sheet of foil. Mix the softened butter and brown sugar together and spread it over the donut. Place the pineapple ring on top. Wrap the donut in a tight flat pack. Place on hot coals and cook for 5-7 minutes.
What are your favorite foil packet meals? Share your tips and recipes with us in the comments!