Provisioning! (or, How Much Should I Buy?)

I wish I always had access to veggies this gorgeous!

I wish I always had access to veggies this gorgeous!

I don't know about you, but provisioning often gets the short end of the stick when people are planning on heading off into the blissful sunset, white sails billowing. They grit their teeth and learn all about diesel engines, sail trim, varnish. They rewire and re-plumb and become way more versed in head maintenance than they ever dreamed they'd have to be.

Those things are important. Yes, they are. Don't have a working engine? Life becomes harder on a number of fronts. (Yes, there are those who sail without one. Clearly, I'm not talking about them.) Can't trim your sails right? The boat next to you, the one with a beard hanging off the bottom? It will beat you in a race every time. Varnish . . . well, that's a totally different story. Wiring and plumbing and the head. Oh, the head.

But on a day-to-day basis, in terms of what you need to REALLY understand? It's food. Even if the engine is broken, or the head is, or you're losing every race - you still need to eat.

(There's a great course coming out later this fall that addresses this very thing. Have you seen the trailer for it?)

Ah, and now for the million-dollar question. Once you've answered the "what do I bring", that is. HOW MUCH DO I BRING?

Here are a few examples of my "rules of thumb".

  • I spend more money for smaller containers of stuff, because a huge can of corn that I can't use up all at once winds up costing me more than just buying a couple of the smaller ones in the first place.
  • I figure a pound of meat will feed 3 people, with a little leftover. If I'm cooking for 4, I do at least a pound and a half. If I'm freezing portion-sizes, with a crew of 2, I'll do 1 lb portions.
  • A pound of pasta will feed 10 people, just about. I'm still working on how to store an open package of pasta; on the boat, I won't just make the whole thing like I do at home (and freeze the rest.)
  • A pound of dried beans will cook up into some obscene amount of beans. I soak and cook a cup at a time, which becomes 3 cups give or take a bit. That's a decent amount for a dinner recipe with lunch leftovers.
  • Lunch is generally leftovers from the night before. Makes it easy, and keeps the leftovers (and the cooking) to a minimum. Yes, I love to cook. I also like to explore, snorkel, read in the cockpit, and kayak.

I'm sure you have your own tips to share. Want to leave a comment below?