The Goldilocks Effect

Not too big, not too small. Just right.

Not too much, not too little. Just enough.

How do you hit that magic sweet spot in terms of provisioning for a cruise?

How do I know if I’ve got it right?

How do I know if I’ve got it right?

A few people have asked me lately how to make sure they’ve got just the right amount of food on board for a cruise. Usually, they’re chartering; often, it’s for a set amount of time with a set number of people on board.

This question from a reader (I asked her permission to use it!) summed it all up pretty well:

I seem to try to anticipate all their needs and desires and end up with wasted food.  So I guess I am looking for ideas on how to manage my expectations of their expectations … LOL .. so we don’t waste food, but have plenty.  Thoughts???

My initial response was “well, you plan the same way you do at home.” And then I started thinking about it more. The problem with this answer (besides feeling flippant and totally not helpful) is that yes, there are some differences between being in your house and being on the boat.

  1. In the house, you have your stash of spices and seasonings. No need to think about each and every one because they’re, well, just there. If you need to restock, it’s a matter of buying one or two, not trying to decide on all of them.

  2. You’ve got space in the house to store extras. Particularly if you’re chartering (or just going for a week on your own boat but not wanting to leave stuff on board when you’re done), you don’t have the space or inclination to buy three extra cans of black beans just because they’re on sale.

  3. This also means you don’t have the luxury of the “oh, I can just make rice and beans if we’re out of everything else” because, hello, you don’t actually HAVE the rice and beans on hand.

  4. At home, you’re likely to be cooking (and eating) on a set schedule, more or less, whereas on board there might be more snacking happening. More snacks=more food required=more uncertainty about amounts.

  5. At home, if you’re feeling the need to supplement your supplies, you hop in the car and head to that specialty store. Maybe just to buy one thing (Bodo’s Bagels, anyone?). On the boat, part of the joy is in NOT having to run those errands. But you still want the bagels. Fresh bagels. Conundrum.

So yeah, being on a boat IS different. What are some tips and tricks you can use so that you cover your bases but don’t have a ton of leftover food at the end of the week?

Practice before you go. Going cruising for a week? Track what you eat for a week. Use this as the basis for amounts as well as seasonings, and start thinking now about how to use it all up.

Take your own spices. Figure out what spices/seasonings you usually enjoy and pack them with you. No need to buy new stuff at all. If you’re really organized, you can pack spices in a medicine box or in small zipper plastic bags or containers.

Fewer dinners. Chartering for 6 nights? Plan/buy for 4 dinners. This gives you the chance to go out, or eat up all the leftovers the last night (an interesting salad, pasta, or even quesadillas are a great way to use up those odds and ends!)

More snacks. Snacks are easy to carry and can easily be a lunch or a dinner. Crackers and cheese, nuts and hummus and olives and sausage - these can serve double duty as sundowner appetizers OR even mid-afternoon munchie-satisfiers. A box of crackers serves a lot of people; 2 8-oz chunks of cheese will do the same. A vacuum-sealed sausage “log” can be an emergency ration that’s easily brought back home if you don’t dig into it.

Emergency plan. Take one non-perishable “emergency” dinner along. A pound of pasta and a jar of sauce, or a package of Zatarains rice and beans can be dinner in a pinch. Items that do not need to be refrigerated are the easiest to transport!

Leftovers are king. Mix them up by repurposing (tortillas are great for this - add in some crunch, add in some cheese, roll it in a tortilla and heat it up until the cheese melts . . . mmmmm!) or just eating them straight as lunch.

You may still have a few things left at the end of the cruise, but this should give you a good start on being more like Goldilocks - getting things just right.

Happy cruising!

Mmmmm !