Even as someone who doesn’t spend a wealth of time in the kitchen, I can see how cooking can be therapeutic. Meditatively chopping veggies, breathing in the aroma of spices as the food sizzles, and of course savoring each bite once the meal is on the table. But unless your a full-on Monica from Friends, there’s nothing therapeutic about tackling a sink full of dishes. In fact, it’s stressful, if anything. And that goes double if you’re having a barbecue; scrubbing the grill after a fun cookout is a major buzzkill. This is exactly why I’m a big fan of parchment and foil packet recipes.
This method of cooking is exactly what it sounds like—you throw everything you’re working with into a packet, sparing a pan from getting covered in hard-to-clean cooking juices. Pop it in the oven, and a Netflix episode later, dinner is done. The cooking method works for fish, meat, veggies—anything really.
For a more sustainable twist on foil packet recipes, FSC-certified parchment paper ($5) does the same job just as well, but can be composted or recycled right along in your paper trash. (Foil can be recycle, too, if it’s clean, but all the recipes below can be adapted to parchment instead.) Keep reading to see a roundup of dinner recipes, all of which utilize the packet cooking method. Then, daydream about how you’re going to spend that dishes-free 30 minutes of your night you just got back.
7 easy parchment packet recipes that don’t make a mess
Packet-baked chicken-and-veggies is the quintessential lazy girl healthy dinner. It allows you to use anything in your crisper that’s on the verge of ending up on the compost bin and spruces them up with a few key spices—plus olive oil for healthy fats. Add some chicken in there for protein and you’ll have a complete meal totally done in about 20 minutes.
The benefits of cooking salmon in parchment paper are that it doesn’t stick and it stays super moist. Instead of cooking a side of asparagus on the stove, adding them to the paper pocket allows them to soak up the flavor of the herbs.
Guess what: you don’t even need to have fresh vegetables in the fridge to make a satisfying veggie dish—frozen ones cook just fine in packets. Throw your bundle on the grill or in the oven. Either way, you’ll end up with a fiber-rich plate full that will leave you reaching for seconds.
If you lean toward a Mediterranean diet way of eating, this recipe is about to become a beloved go-to. Topping your fish with diced pepper, tomato, and olives in the packet gives it the perfect balance of healthy fats and fiber. Once it’s out, just add feta cheese and basil. The end result is a taste of Greece, even if you’re actually in Des Moines.
Just like with fish, cooking chicken in parchment paper or foil ensures all the moisture stays locked in. (The steam that basically gives you facial when you open the packets is proof.) Round it out with a simple salad or side of your favorite veggies for a complete meal. Or, work this cooking method into your meal prep and use the chicken as your protein for the week.
Craving some Mexican? This is the one for you, my friend. Cook your chicken, rice, and peppers together in a packet for a tortilla-ready meal. Top it off with guac, salsa, or sour cream for the perfect finishing touch.
A traditional Southern boil is quite the spread. Even if you use packets, it can still look just as impressive when plated—you just get to cheat the process a bit. If you’re making this dish on the grill, be sure to flip over to the other side after ten minutes to ensure everything is cooked evenly. Once everything is cooked, flavor with lime juice and dig in!
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