Meal prepping is a common way for folks to plan their meals for the week as it might help save time and money, while also keeping diet and nutrition in check. And while it does take time and effort to come up with recipes, find ingredients, and cook a big batch of food - once it’s over and done with - the rest is smooth sailing.
Provisioning is an inevitable part of an extended sailing trip or yacht charter. And with no grocery stores at sea, it’s all about strategy. Whoever takes the lead on provisions must take into consideration the number of people on board, allergies/food restrictions, storage space, and available appliances.
If you’re preparing for your next extended sailing or boating trip, we gathered a few provisioning tips for eating well at sea. With the right ingredients and a little preparation, you can create some stellar meals for your next sailboat charter.
Start with the basics
When it comes to cooking on a sailboat, it’s all about the basics. Let’s assume you already have cabinet-ready staples like salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, rice, pasta, flour, and yeast. Take it up a notch and consider stocking a cabinet with your favorite spices, condiments, wraps, oatmeal, chicken stock, canned or dried milk, or canned soups. Remember, just because you’re at sea, doesn’t mean that your meals have to be bland! You can add flavor to any meal with a few spices or condiments.
Shop for a balanced diet
Once you have the basics onboard the boat, assess how many days you’ll be away, how much storage space is available, and how many mouths there are to feed. If you’re spending a week or less at sea, you can stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, carrots, apples, bananas (unless you’re superstitious about bananas on boats), onions, garlic, potatoes, or bell peppers.
Longer than a week at sea, and you might want to consider long-lasting alternatives that are still packed with nutrients such as canned fruits and vegetables, sauces, ready-to-use minced garlic, canned fish, dried fruit, or nuts. If you have enough freezer space, consider stocking up on butter, cheese, meat, and fish. Remember to take into consideration crew with food allergies or dietary restrictions when shopping for provisions.
Batch cook before you leave port
Meal prepping is a lifesaver when it comes to eating well at sea. Consider batch-cooking hearty meals such as stews, soups, casseroles, risotto, or even lasagna. Not only does it spare the mess of cooking at sea,
but it’s also a good idea in anticipation of rough weather. (It’s not ideal to chop vegetables or boil water when the waves are rolling!) You can get a variety of meals from batch cooking for a sailing trip, but remember to account for freezer space.
Remove packaging and vacuum pack food items
One of the best ways to save space in the galley is to remove the box packaging on food items such as cereal, pasta, protein bars, or oatmeal. Store these items in a plastic bag or air-tight container. Not only does this save space, but also helps you avoid lugging cardboard trash during your sailing trip. Pro tip: when you vacuum pack food, it lasts longer in the freezer! So if you’re traveling with meat, fish, or cheese (and even fruit/veg!) seal them in an airtight bag before storing these items in the freezer.
Cooking while underway
Depending on your crew’s eating habits, dinner might be the one meal that’s cooked and enjoyed together. (Breakfast or lunch might be a lighter, fend-for-yourself situation!) For shorter journeys, it might be a good idea to create a menu ahead of time. This will help manage provisioning, storage, and crew expectations.
For longer passages, meals might be more dependent on mood, weather, or rationing of food. But no matter what, simple is usually best when it comes to cooking on a sailboat. (Not trying to win any Michelin stars here!). Consider nutrient-rich, one-pot recipes such as chicken curry, beef chili, vegetable stir fry, tuna salad, or egg frittatas. When in doubt, this cookbook can help you whip something up with the ingredients you have onboard.
When you book a sailboat or catamaran charter in Key West, you shouldn’t waste any time planning, prepping, or cooking. That’s why Bluesail First Mate, Brittany Jones will take care of preparing delicious meals or sandbar picnics for you and your guests when you book a sailing trip from Key West. When you reserve your next Bluesail experience online, make a note to add a First Mate and we’ll make sure to set you up with an amazing menu, stellar cocktails, and five-star service. That’s the Bluesail experience.