Provisioning 101

By Bicki Howell, NELLIE D. #63

After being asked multiple times "How does one provision for a long cruise?" I've been giving it a little thought. Before getting into the details though, I think the most important question for any cruiser is how do you plan to prepare meals aboard? By that I mean, do you cook in a traditional manner; or use a pressure cooker or slow cooker; grill; make salad type meals; do you intend to bake; or are you like me, and do a combination of all these things? Other questions to ask yourself are: Do you normally preplan a menu for each day or week? Do you need recipes for cooking? Do you plan to eat out at various ports of call? The answers to all these questions and establishing how you intend to cook aboard will go far in determining much you'll need when provisioning.

So, while you are pondering how you plan and prepare meals, here's how I do it. First, when I can, I like to prepare and freeze meals in seal-a-meal bags at home. They last in the boat's refrigerator for weeks and are easy to reheat. My second trick is to buy a varied selection of canned vegetables, meats, and soups. The big advantage of canned goods is they store without refrigeration and their shelf life is quite long.

My provisioning always depends on where we are going, how long we going for, and the frequency of grocery stores along the way. For example, this Spring we cruised the Exumas. I couldn't count on a decent grocery store for at least 3-4 weeks. That greatly impacted how and and what I provisioned. This trip required more provisions than when we transit the ICW where a town is only a day's cruise away. I did start to worry a little bit the last week out in the islands that our pantry would be totally bare before we arrived back in the US. I am happy to report we didn't go hungry, saved by the staples I had on hand such as rice, canned veggies, meats and pasta. On this trip I also planned to bake bread and some other goodies. My oven had other ideas and decided not to work. I was not about to be defeated and used a hot pan on the stove instead to treat the crew to bread and even a chocolate cake. The cake would never win the best looking in a baking contest, but it was quite tasty. If there is one thing I have learned over the years it is to be flexible and to adjust to things like the oven not working or the refrigerator quiting.

For our usual cruising, where stores are available within a day or two, I have basic provisions aboard to cover approximately two weeks. This includes three meals a day, snacks as well as pot lucks and happy hours for when we meet fellow cruisers. I am not a menu planner, but I do have various standard recipes and a general style of cooking which enables me to know what I need to have in my pantry. I have one cookbook aboard and recipes either in my head or in my iPad for the old stand bys.

If there is a special treat that you like be sure to have lots of that on hand. Loving almonds, I always buy those in bulk to have aboard. Sometimes the places you are cruising may not have certain products available. We like milk and in the Bahamas a gallon of milk can run more than $8, if you can find it at all. So, I provisioned boxed milk and powdered milk to ensure we had milk available for cereal and coffee. I did fail to provision enough decaf coffee this trip and we were unable to find it anywhere in the islands. We switched to drinking tea, but I sure missed our morning cup of java.

Okay, so now that we have discussed the basics, let's go onto my general provisioning list and guidelines.

BREAKFAST…..items I like to have available…
- Dried cereal
- Oatmeal
- Eggs
- Muffins
- English muffins, tortillas
- Canadian bacon/ham/cheese/veggies for omelets
- Pancake mix or Bisquick
- Juices -Fresh is best but some brands like V8, apple juice and even OJ come in cans that can be stored in the pantry until ready to use
- Coffee/tea
- Fruit
- Milk

LUNCH….I like to make our lunch and have it ready before we leave the anchorage or if that is not possible, I make it while cleaning up the breakfast dishes. The reason I do this is that should the weather get rough we are able to eat a good meal without me being stuck in the galley rocking and rolling. It has come in handy when situations arise like locks, heavy traffic, fog, maintenace problems etc. which require all hands on the bridge for hours at a time. There are times when you may not be able to get away to te galley to prepare lunch and will instead go hungry. For lunches, I like some of the following on hand:
- Breads
- Cold cuts. If buying from the deli, prepackage the meat in good air tight bags.
- Tuna
- Salad fixings
- Soups..I supplement with canned soup, but I love making my own and having the leftovers for 2-3 days. I also use Bear Creek Country Kitchen mixes which are made by adding water and then you can add other goodies to make a very hardy soup. Things I have to make my soups:
— Dried beans
— Canned stewed tomatoes (never seem to have enough of these onboard)
— Bullion cubes
— Canned meats (chicken or beef)
— Canned veggies
— Onions, celery, potatoes, etc.
— Great to make a soup by tossing in all the leftovers

DINNER…. I often cook double what we will eat for dinner. I then have the leftovers for later in the week.
Veggies and fruits….I have found the hardest things for me to keep enough of on board are fresh veggies and fruit. Their shelf life and the ability to store these goods makes it difficult. I also use canned veggies to supplement when I cannot buy fresh
- Fresh veggies that keep well:
— Carrots, squash, broccoli and cauliflower
— Ice burg lettuce (which can be wrapped in a paper towel and then stored in a plastic bag). — store bought bags of romaine lettuce can sometimes last 2 weeks or more.
— Wrap bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers separately in paper towels, after they are washed and dried, and then place in a plastic bags.
— Store unwashed mushrooms in a paper bag. To keep longer, cook them and store in an air tight container.
— Wrap a damp paper towel around celery stocks
- Onions, potatoes, lemons, limes, sweet potatoes , oranges, grape fruit will keep a bit longer by wrapping each individually in foil . They don't have to be stored in the refrigerator
- Canned artichokes, heart of palm, olives, 3 bean salad and beets are great additions to salads.

Grilling…In warm weather I like to use the grill, or put Dave to the task. I buy various meats for grilling. You can marinade and freeze the meats ahead of time.
- Best if these uncooked meats can be kept frozen, if not able to do so, then buy only what you will use in a few days
- Slice fresh veggies, potatoes and after adding some spices and olive oil wrap them in foil to put on the grill while the meat cooks.
- Propane for the grill

Canned and packaged Meats…
- Chicken (canned)
- Canned roast beef (use for any recipe that calls for cooked beef or even hamburg)
- Tuna
- Precooked bacon (sold in box). Or simply cook all the bacan all at once to store it much longer than when uncooked
- Precooked meatballs in the store's freezer section. They last weeks in the refrig
- Cook a meatloaf at home and freeze
- Buy a roasted chicken before you leave a port…a great first meal out and the leftovers come in handy for everything from main course, sandwiches, and soups.

- Instant pudding mixes made with powdered milk
- Yogurt
- Store bought cookies
- Cookie mixes. Buy the prepared dough and keep in the refrig until ready to bake
- Cakes. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing motivates Nellie's crew.
- Fresh fruit. Try blue cheese on pear halves (fresh or canned) and put under the broiler for a few minutes—trust me they are elegant and yummy.

POT LUCKS…I suggest picking a few recipes that are simple, that work for you, and have the ingredients aboard. Doing this makes pot lucks a breeze, even at the last minute. Here are a few that I like:
- Deviled eggs
- Pasta dishes
- Tortilla meat dish.
- Fresh bread with a dip
- Salads: 3 bean, pasta, lettuce
- A fresh baked goodie such as cookies

COCKTAIL HOUR or when company comes calling….
-I like Trader Joes for some of their prepared dips and sauces to help with the cocktail hour/entertainment portion of my provisioning.
- Bread or english muffin (cut after cooking into bit size pieces) covered with a little cheese (optional) with lots of fresh tomatoes, parsley and onion and drizzled with olive oil. Put under the broiler.
- Cream cheese makes into a simple tasty spread when mixed with spices, cheeses, etc.
- Dips with veggies, chips or crackers
- Nuts
- Blue cheese on peeled, sliced cucumber, topped with nuts…very yummy
- Spreads for crackers or bread
- Cheese and crackers
- Nut or party mixes
- Tortilla pin wheels
- Sausage, cheese and olives stacked on a tooth pick

- Whatever you usually drink
- I buy a case of beer to have aboard for guests
- I keep some wines for hostess gifts
- Mixers, etc.
- Personally I love box wine and it keeps well
- Take your own drinks to a cocktail party, unless told otherwise. We will usually mention to those who invited us that we are bringing our own drinks to avoid confusion.

- Baking mixes - many just require water or use powdered milk. I like the ones sold in an envelop which makes a smaller batch.
— Corn bread
— Muffin (banana, blueberry, etc)
— Cookies
— Cake mixes and frosting
- Bake your own bread. I am now considering purchasing a bread maker to have aboard. Fresh bread is often hard to find while cruising and always tastes so good.
— Use a simple, few ingredient recipe for a beer bread or a conventional loaf.
— Bisquick flour can be used to make simple rolls, pancakes, etc.
— Box bread mixes are complete and easy
— Flour and yeast

- Sliced bread for sandwiches
- Flour and corn tortillas. Easy to store and shelf life is good.
— Use in place of bread for sandwich rolls
— Rolled up with anything from cream cheese, peanut putter, etc
— Cover with a cream spread, roll and cut into pin wheels for an easy snack
— Cesadias for an exceptional cheese and Ham sandwich
- English muffins keep well
— Great for open face sandwiches
— Melt cheese on top for a snack
— Great with canned crab and cheese melted on top
— Better than hamburger buns!
— If you don't have a toaster, heat under the broiler or even in a fry pan
- Pita bread stores really well
— Great for sandwiches
— Makes an easy pizza crust
— Cut into wedges and serve with a dip

SNACKS… buy what you usually eat, here are some we like to have on hand.
- Nuts
- Cookies
- Fruit
- Cackers — with Peanut butter or cheese
- Cchips/ pretzels
- Raisins
- Peanut M&M
- Salsa and tortilla chips

STAPLES…some of the other "staples" I like to have are listed below. I tried not to repeat too many that were already listed above.
- Sugar
- Olive oil
- Vinegars
- BBQ sauce
- My favorite BBQ rub
- Mustard
- Ketchup
- Pickles
- Relish
- Sugar
- Olives
- instant gravy mixes
- Myo
- Mmaple syrup
- honey
- Salt and pepper
- Salad dressing or ingredients to make own
- Misc spices
- Rice
- Pastas (orzo, tortellini, spaghetti, etc) plus various sauces
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Hot chocolate mix
- Tea (for hot or cold)
- Coffee
- Powder and box milk to augment reg milk
- Soda
- Peanut butter and jelly. Good for a quick snack.
- Eggs -never enough
— You can keep them a long time. If you want to keep longer than expiration date, rub oil over the shell to seal the pores and store in the carton. You can also place the carton in a plastic bag
— Great in soups, for breakfast, deviled eggs make a great pot luck dish
— Hard boil a dozen before you leave. They are ideal for snacks, salads, in soups, etc.
- Dish soap, liquid hand soap, detergents, softener, dryer sheets, etc.
- Toothpicks
- Matches, fire stick
- Batteries

- Milk. Another staple. I often use powdered milk in recipes to save the liquid milk for cereal. I also buy boxed milk to have on hand
- Butter or spread
- Cheeses
- Shredded cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Cream cheese for spreads
- Yogurt. I use plain Greek yogurt in place of heavy cream or sour cream in recipes. We sometimes have yogurt for breakfast or as dessert
- Coffee creamer (if you use)

- Foil
- Zip lock bags — sandwich and gallon. (I use tons of these)
- Trash bags
- Toilet Paper
- Paper towels
- Baby Wipes
- Napkins

- Spare eye glasses
- Prescriptions
- Vitamins
- Cold medicine
- Basic first aid things
- Sun tan lotion
- Bug dope

Things I wish I purchased more of for the Bahamas trip….
- Decaf coffee
- Chips and pretzels
- Cream cheese (I failed to buy any)
- Tonic mixer
- Canned veggies
- Olives
- Salsa

Okay, that about wraps it up. If you have ideas on provisioning that you'd like to share with the group, please let me know (moc.liamg|llewoHikciB#moc.liamg|llewoHikciB). Now we just have to figure out where to store all the provisions! But that's for another day's discussion.


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