What to buy when provisioning for a long passage?
Every captain and crew has his or her preferences so provisioning always varies but a few staples are:
- Spices: variety is the spice of life and nothing like herbs and spices to add a little diversity to your cooking
- Canned goods: vegetables, soups, fruits, coconut milk… etc.
- Dried foods: rice, beans, I love dried mushrooms, some swear by dried peas and other vegetables
- Starches: pasta, cous cous, instant noodles, tortillas
- Snacks: It’s important to keep something in your stomach to avoid seasickness. Chocolate can be a great morale booster on long passages
- Cereal bars: an easy meal at sea
- Tortillas: last for ages and can be used in a diverse array of wraps from savory to sweet
- Eggs, egg replacer is also great if you’re doing baking or anything like that.
- Boxed long-life milk (some prefer powdered milk but I am a traditionalist in that respect)
- Potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, and other long-lasting root vegetables.
- Meat (though I don’t eat it but I’ve seen sailors go a little crazy when deprived of meat on long passages. I figure why buy a lot of meat when you can get the freshest seafood in the world from the water around you!?
Just before setting off is the time to buy the fresh fruits and vegetables. You want to make them last as long as possible. But how do you make them last as long as humanly possible?
I found this excellent article online: Cool Ways to Keep Food Without Refrigeration by Beth A. Leonard, a woman who had sailed on a refrigerator-less boat. In it she outlines tips and tricks to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer at sea.
I would add that in addition to buying unrefrigerated eggs and turning them every several days coating eggs with Vaseline adds to their shelf-life. That said, keep a close eye on the eggs. I have seen too many incidents of eggs going bad or buggy and no one wants a boat smelling sulfurous.
One fun trick is that if you’re sailing in the tropics then you can grow yourself sprouts at sea using just a glass jar and a little water. They probably do work better if you have a water purifier because rinsing them can take quite a bit of water.
Keep lettuce and spinach fresh longer if you can buy them with roots and put them in water. This is a lot easier if you’re on a catamaran. Truth be told, I wouldn’t even attempt it on a monohull.
When you’re on a long passage good meals and variety in them is one of the main things to look forward to. Mix it up and have fun with your cooking. You and your crewmates will be happier for it.
Fair winds and happy sailing!