Do you know that there are a variety of ways to make provisioning and cooking on a boat easy? Watch the video or read the article below to make your boating life far more fulfilling.
Provisioning And Cooking On A Boat Video
Surely you already know that, as a cruiser, getting food isn’t straightforward. You have to get in your dinghy, head to shore, walk or take a bus to a grocery store, shop and then head back to the boat. It’s usually a 1/2 day event and it’s a real kicker when you forget something important like your bread or milk!
And finding the foods that you want is a massive hit or miss situation.
I’ve spent months in foreign countries not being able to get basic things like tomatoes, celery, fresh milk or any modern convince foods like ready made pizzas or the condiments that you love. Or I’ll want to make a special dish knowing that I saw a certain product the week before but when I return I never see it again.
Of course, there’s then the actual difficulties of cooking. Boats only have so much cooking fuel so you don’t want to spend too much time using the oven, the stovetop and oven are much smaller than what we’re accustomed to – only one pot fits at the top. And it’s already hot on a boat so adding more heat isn’t ideal.
So what can turn the labor intensive task of provisioning and cooking into a breeze?
First, you need to realized that provisioning and cooking on a boat is not like how things work on land and in a house. Second, you need to create a system that makes life easier and then work that system.
I’m going to share with you three ways on how you can make provisioning and cooking on a boat easier.
You might be thinking that cooking on a boat is similar to camping. You crack open a can of beans and heat up hot dogs. But if you’re going to become a cruiser, you can’t live on camping foods nor do you need to.
You also might think that you’re just going to live on salads all the time because it’s too hot to eat anything heavier. Well…that will last for a couple weeks and then you’ll want something more substantial.
So not only am I going to explain how to make provisioning and cooking easy but I’m going to relay to you how to make proper meals that are healthy, taste great and are easy to cook.
1. The first tip is to think of all the meals you like to eat on a regular basis.
For us, we love turkey chili, spaghetti Bolognese, pulled pork, chicken curry, any kind of tacos, steak, BBQs and loads of local vegetables for dinner and for lunch we enjoy every kind of salad possible in addition to soups and sandwiches. For breakfast we eat breakfast burritos, eggs on toast, pancakes or yogurt and granola.
Based on what you know and love to eat you can create a list of ingredients that make up your staple list. I separate my list into fresh, frozen and can.
Due to very limited space on a boat, over time you’ll learn how to balance what you keep fresh, what you freeze and what canned items work really well.
With your list, you can either keep it updated as and when you use ingredients or just update it before you head out to the store so that every time you shop, you bring your ‘core’ list. I often update ours and give it to my husband, Simon, and he can then do the grocery shopping.
Any extras needed or wanted I just write at the bottom of the list. In most cases you won’t get everything on the list but when you find something you’ve been missing for a while, you know to buy several. Over time, you have a stock of your core items.
The important concept here is to start with what you know and love already.
If you’re going to live the dream that means living the dream – not living off of dried chick peas and powdered eggs!
2. The second thing to do that makes provisioning and cooking on a boat fun and easy is to spend a few hours after you shop to prepare meals and meal kits.
When you’re actively sailing moving from one anchorage to another even a short two hour sail will tire you out. And a long all day sail can really take it out of you. The last thing you want to do is cook.
Another thing that happens as a cruiser are all the sundowner and cruiser events. If you want to meet people on the beach or invite them over there’s always someone around – or even a group of boaters around – ready and willing to have a few drinks while watching the sun set.
These events are great but for me, I get back to the boat and don’t want to cook.
Furthermore…in the not so distant past I got seasick all the time. I would prepare all our meals in advance so that anyone could just grab a burrito and heat it up or pull out a lasagna and put it in the oven. It reduced my level of stress knowing that I was out of commission for the trip and I got to eat good food – yes, when I get seasick I just want to eat!
So let me give you and idea of what I make in advance and freeze. Just this week, I put a pork loin in our slow cooker creating a bbq’d pulled pork meal to freeze. While that was cooking I made lasagna cups that are also made to freeze. I then made a chicken fajita soft taco kit and a beef barley stew kit – the kits are not cooked but the whole idea is that you just poor out the contents and cook.
By having pre-made freezer meals and kits it makes cooking on a boat so much easier. When we’re anchored in a bay and haven’t done much all day other than swimming and exploring I’m usually in the mood to cook so I use my fresh ingredients and make something fun. But when I’m tired, I usually ask Simon to heat up one of our pre-made meals or cook a kit.
Depending on how much freezer space I have, I sometimes make double batches too.
The main thing to understand here is that a few hours spent concentrating your efforts on meal planning will seriously pay off later in the week when you really don’t want to cook.
This means that meal planning and cooking truly become a breeze.
3. The third tip to make cooking on a boat fun and easy is to learn about substitutions and using frozen or canned goods.
I will tell you a story about this one. One of my favorite lunchtime meals is chicken salad in an avocado or over a bed of lettuce. For years I would make this meal when I found a place that sold rotisserie chicken. Never did I think that there was any other way.
When covid hit, we went to the grocery store to stock up on items and I noticed that canned chicken had a 4 can limit. I thought, ‘who the heck eats chicken from a can?’ I bought 4 cans just to see what all the fuss was about.
I then decided to make my chicken salad mixture – mayo, cranberries, celery, seasoning and chicken from the can. I couldn’t believe how easy it was and how good it tasted. I now keep a stock of around 5 cans of chicken on board. It’s so quick, easy and tastes great.
I’ve also discovered that canned spinach works great in recipes and you can get hummus, babaganoush and all sorts of amazing things in cans.
We’re in St Martin now and they have duck in a can, scalloped potatoes and all sorts of unexpected options – it’s fantastic.
The same goes with frozen foods. I always have a bag of frozen broccoli, peas, corn and brussel sprouts because I know that the chances of getting them fresh are very low and these veggies go into our core meals.
The main thing to understand here is that if you balance your fresh, frozen and shelf stable items you can often create your favorite meals, stocking the ingredients in the space you have, and in some cases it’s even easier!
This is really key because there’s only so much space on board and furthermore, you often can’t get the fresh ingredients you want.
Now, you might be thinking that you’ll just make a list of what you want, go to the grocery store, get what you can and you’ll improvise. And that you don’t get seasick or tired, so you are happy to cook up something after a long sail.
And that’s when I would look at you and say, ‘you haven’t been sailing for very long, have you?’
Each anchorage and country you visit may or may not have anything on your list. I’ve had times where I wanted to make something specific and I couldn’t get six out of the eight ingredients – there’s no improvising on a recipe there!
I’ve also had times where I made a list and forgot to put something essential. That was before I had my staple list that I use.
And feeling in the mood to cook during or even after a long passage is definitely not a common occurrence.
It might seem like these three tips aren’t very groundbreaking but I assure you that creating ingredient lists, being proactive with your meal preparation and understanding what substitutes you can use, provisioning and cooking on a boat will really become easy.
But if you want to go one step further you can follow our more comprehensive ‘Meal Provisioning Grouping checklist’.
I created a guide called Checklists For Sailors where you can discover more ways to create systems, checklists and routines that help make your entire boating life easier.
Not only does the guide have food related checklists but also cleaning lists, passage planning structure, sailboat maintenance routines, safety systems, medical and more.
What makes our checklists so special is that we’ve spent 7 years testing, modifying and perfecting them so that you don’t have to go through the pain and expense that we have.
Our Checklists will help you to have a less complicated and more enjoyable boat life. They will also help you to save loads of money by being proactive rather than reactive.
Click the link here for more information on our Checklists For Sailors guide. You can read my husbands perspective about our guides! For a limited time we’re currently offering the option to get the guide in Word format so that you can customize the checklists specific to your needs so make sure you get your copy now.
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