Sunday, October 10, 2010

Food Provisioning for Your Boat

My last post was about cooking on a boat but not so much about what you might want to bring along. First of all, I need to mention that we have refrigeration (a chest type with a small freezer compartment in the back of it) on our 35' catamaran. And since it's a Bob Johnson Island Packet Cat that means we also have a tremendous amount of storage space.

However, this past summer we could only turn on the refrigerator while the engines were running or we were on shore power (we docked about once a week). So in order to retain what ever amount of cold we'd been able to generate, we used a lot of ice! And since it was a horrendously hot summer we usually went through three bags of ice a day! That added up big time (approximately $150.00/month) and we finally decided to call this usage a 'utility'.

I would pack two soft sided coolers with ice and then add my perishables, and when we had power going, I would re-freeze four 2 liter bottles of water. All of these things were kept in the refrigerator. The third bag of ice would get dumped into the captain's cooler that Bob Johnson ever so cleverly placed... well... right beside the captain's seat! We found we could fill it with a bag or block of ice, and a 30 pack, no problem!

We are currently having solar panels installed on the Knotty Cat and hope that this will allow us to keep things cold without needing to buy so much ice!

What didn't keep very well was, milk and coffee creamer. Luckily since I only use milk for cooking I found that powdered milk worked just fine. And while I like real cream in my coffee, beggars can't be choosers so once again, powder was fine! Note: don't mix your powdered milk in an old milk jug! I found out the hard way that it will spoil very quickly because of left over milk residue. I now use a left over 1 liter club soda bottle. But I only use it once. It gets thrown out and I start with a new one each time.

I bought frozen orange juice to save room and also thought the frozen can would help keep things cold. Even though it was in the refrigerator and packed in a cooler full of ice it would thaw within a day! But I only bought one can at a time so that was okay.

Luckily, cheese and pepperoni kept well, and served with crackers became a lot of our midday meals. The fridge also held bread, Parmesan cheese, ketchup, mustard, margarine, (real butter also didn't last long), jam, and mayo (mayo is really only dangerous if you stick utensils in it that have touched raw meat etc...then it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria). Eggs were kept right on top of the ice in one of the coolers, and I only bought a dozen at a time and they were also okay.

Before I started using Bisquick I bought Pillsbury crescent rolls. They did not keep and came out of the can in a horribly gross gelatinous mass (that I cooked anyway!).

We also brought pasta (not nearly enough), spaghetti sauce, macaroni, rice, peanut butter, syrup, a few canned foods like, potatoes, mushrooms, sloppy joe mix, baked beans (not enough as I love baked beans!), barbecue sauce, Picante, re-fried beans, diced green chiles (the last three items are used in a fabulous hot dip that one of my past employers used to make and I plan on posting it on a future recipe page) pizza shells, pizza sauce, powdered milk, Bisquick, pre-packaged muffin mix, brownie mix, corn meal muffin mix, Pringles potato chips, Generic Cheerios (Hans hates the real deal), and Raisin Bran (my favorite).

In Tupperware containers that I've had for going on thirty years I did bring flour, sugar, baking soda, powdered sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and corn starch. I also brought olive oil, vegetable oil, vinegar (cider and white), powdered spices: onion and garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and my former employers gave me two boxes of Penzey Spices. I used Penzey's Northwood Seasoning on a piece of Rock Fish that I grilled one night and you'd have thought Hans had died and gone to heaven!

This sounds like a lot of food, but I only brought about a week's worth, (except for the baking stuff and spices, which can last quite awhile) because apparently I thought we'd just pull our boat into the parking lot of the nearest Food Lion or Safeway, load up, and then sail on our merry way!

Not so! I ended up shopping in a lot of little coastal markets where spaghetti was $3.50 a box and hamburger was $5.00 a pound. I rationalized it by reminding myself that this was still much cheaper than eating in a restaurant.

Needless to say we also brought coffee. We have a drip pot that we can use on shore power, and a french press that we use at anchor. The other day I bought a coffee grinder so that I can grind whole beans (and they too aren't cheap but I just happened onto a buy one get one free sale!!) for the french press as the grounds need to be coarse. You might think a drip pot and a french press are redundant but I need my coffee in the morning and just ask Hans what happens if I don't get my caffeine!! Actually that might not be such a good idea.

And let's not forget my dog food odyssey through the streets of Annapolis.

There are 4 shelves behind the door on the left and they hold my baking supplies. The door on the right has open space behind it and you can either hang your clothing or store tall things. We have two of these storage areas, one in each berth.

The galley area after meal preparation.

And now all cleaned up!

The microwave on the left is now gone!!! Yaaaaay!! Room for a basket of some kind to hold yet more 'stuff'.

That mini pantry to the right of it holds most of the canned goods, spaghetti, mixes, etc... and above it; that vacant space can hold bags of tortilla chips, and other light weight things that won't kill anyone in the event of the result of a stink boat wake!

The cupboards above the now vacant microwave and pantry hold our dishes, glasses, and coffee cups.

Here I am happily preparing yet one more meal during the delivery run from two years ago.

Our maiden voyage from Boston to Maryland with some very important cargo waiting to be moved down below! All 13 cases!

Wilbur was minding his own business one hot day this summer when he bought a couple of cases of Natural Light and this nasty kitteh decided to threaten him.

For some reason the kitteh's are always trying to intimidate my pitty, and this one is lucky I didn't kick its butt for scaring my baby! Actually it scared me, and I made sure I got myself and Wilbur out of there FAST!

So what I've been doing during our time ashore is stocking up on sales (like spaghetti at .50 cents a pound, 12 packs of diet soda at 3 for $11.00 etc...) then when I find that we're running low, I will hopefully have the time to find an affordable store in order to replenish our supplies.

You may wonder why I'm so cheap. Well, unfortunately I'm not a brilliant person so I've always had to work at 'jobs' as opposed to having a 'career', and add to that, the fact that I'm the offspring of parents' who were children of the depression. So needless to say I am queen of the penny pincher's!

And speaking of cheap, I picked up a yard of Sunbrella fabric at Loom last week for $5.00 (normally $30.00!!! and that, folks, is a bargain!) and I'm in the process of making it into an Amy Butler Blossom Bag (free PDF download!!!).

Pictures to follow.


  1. I'd kill for your galley! So nice, and lots of storage space.

  2. Cheryl, you can see why I like cooking on the boat! Actually, it has more space than some apartment kitchens.