Friday, August 2, 2013

Meal Planning

As with any human endeavour, how to eat while cruising is always a key issue, and requires more planning than living on land.  In some ways it is a great deal like planning for camping, and (as with camping) a lot of what you plan depends on what you go in for.  Some people who camp like to stay in an orderly campground and eat in nearby restaurants.  At the other extreme, people who are long distance hikers tend to eat foods that are ready made, won't spoil, and can be prepared quickly and easily on a single burner. Plenty of cruisers can be found who subscribe to waterbourne variations on both these strategies.  Shoal draft cruisers tend not to fit either of them.

Why?  Well, part of the point of shoal draft cruising is getting to anchorages that other boats cannot reach.  These are not especially likely to be convenient to restaurants or even to grocery stores.  But by the same token, shoal draft cruisers are not generally very well adapted to sailing long distances offshore—and if that's what you are into, the appeal of getting deep inside some quiet salt marsh probably isn't very great.  So chances are you are going to plan on cooking aboard, with something less than a fully equipped kitchen.

Bufflehead's galley has a pump sink, a two burner alcohol stove, and an icebox, which is only kept cold with real blocks of ice.  If you are up for the challenge, cooking on the boat is very satisfying.  Things to bear in mind when planning a menu (of which the one below is an example) are pretty simple.
•Use perishables early in the trip.  Many fresh fruits and vegetables respond poorly to the humid salty air of a cabin, and to the strong possibility of getting knocked around in the cabin or submerged in the icebox.  Cryovaced meats do better than standard plastic wrapped fare.
•Freeze what you can before you leave.  Not only will this help it last longer, but helps the whole icebox work more efficiently.
•Try to plan meals that will only need as many pots as you have burners.
•For later in the trip, canned goods are awesome.
•Try not to put anything in the icebox that isn't packaged in such a way that it can be fully immersed in water.  Big Ziplocks can be handy for things like cheese that might otherwise get waterlogged. 
•Be flexible in your planning.  You never know what weather might do to your plans (or your appetite!).  This is especiallty true of lunches, which are more likely to be prepared while you are underway.  The notes I made below were simply a basis for my shopping.  Expect things to switch around.  
More Thoughts? Share them in the comments.

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