This module is for the big “we are leaving on a boat for xxxx weeks/months/years but we’re still at home with our car and our favorite stores” shop. Later in your cruising, the big ideas (buy perishable last, stock up on favorite things) here are still very applicable. The precise execution (ie buy a week ahead, and go in bursts) is less so.
One other thing about spreadsheets. The kind of spreadsheet I reference in this module is one specific to shopping. Receipts are not general “what did I spend on GROCERIES” as a category but more exact “tuna in pouches is $3 at Food Lion and $2.50 at Walmart.” If you are like many of us, when you start cruising you’ll track expenses in general categories but not so specifically in terms of individual items.
1. Relax. Everybody eats.
2. CAVEAT – this is a conversation for you first round of provisioning, when you still have access to a car, and you’re not living on board, and you are at stores you know well. There’s a lot that works always, but there are some assumptions with this round that don’t hold true later on.
3. In general, it’s easier to think about food and shopping in general terms (I like to eat this kind of food, and with these flavors, and that means I like xxx) as opposed to buying specifically what you need for specific menus all the time. You never know what the weather will do, or what your mind will want. My favorite cookbook to start thinking this way on land, before you go is an out-of-print book called the Monday to Friday Cookbook by Michele Urvater. Still findable on Amazon and likely in your local used bookstore; your library might even have it. My copy is destroyed I’ve used it so much.
4. It’s a great idea to think about your favorite recipes and how they might translate to boat life now. Does canned chicken work? Canned beef? Corned beef? Lentils instead of ground beef? How well can I freeze meat? How can I store veggies best? This is beyond the scope of this course, and there are fabulous resources in both the Boat Galley and The Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew. But bottom line? Start thinking and experimenting!
5. What questions will we answer? How much of what. Where. When.
6. Things to think about:
a. Non-food items
c. Food for “OMG I can’t possibly cook” emergencies (seasickness. Storms. Super late nights dealing with other people’s issues.)
d. Flexibility and intractability (oooh cool there are awesome new things to try and oh crap I can’t live without Skippy peanut butter)
7. The formula for amounts (days x people x meals)
8. What to buy? Spreadsheet start with all you love on it, with your preferred spices. You will have to fill out details. Suggestion: Keep this going. For the next month, jot down everything you buy. Everything. Razors. Toilet paper. Wine. Bread. Diapers. Dish soap. Shampoo. Tampons. Lettuce. Milk. Cereal. APPS?? BUY ONLY THINGS YOU KNOW YOU LIKE. I cannot stress this enough. If you are intrigued by Lin Pardey’s mention of eating a lot of canned corned beef, buy ONE can and try ONE recipe with it before you buy 12 to take with you.
9. Where? You will have enough going on without making yourself crazy over the $.05 you save on each can of black beans by going to Target instead of Kroger. (speaking from experience here). Suggest you have your 2 favorite stores, or 3, if you are used to shopping at 3. Jot down prices of your favorite things. That’s where you’ll be shopping! (you can also ask about a discount, if you are so inclined. They might say yes. You’re in no worse shape if they say no.) When we left the first time, I kept meticulous notes and compared prices at 5 different stores on all the things I wanted to buy. I’d bet I saved a whopping total of $100 in 1991, and it took me at least 20 hours of scouring and organizing. That’s not a great return on my time.
10. When? I suggest starting a week before moving on board, if not sooner, with the packaged goods. Why? You will likely repackage some of them. You might be working with a single car and needing to trek back and forth. It’s easier to go to the store and buy 10 things than 50, at least it is for me. In, out, home, and to the boat. Boom.
11. Last minute stuff? Perishable and fresh goods. Anything for the freezer you’ll want to repackage and freeze solid before moving it on board, if you can.
12. Things to balance:
a. Storage on the boat. If you are heading down the US East coast and will have access to stores pretty much every 2 weeks or so, if not more often, you don’t need to stuff the boat to the gills. You might want to, and that’s fine – but think about the balance of weight on the boat, her sailing capability, and the true need for 8 months worth of canned tomatoes when you can buy another 6 pack at about the same price down the road.
b. Shelf life vs storage desire.
c. What things cost where you’re headed. Bahamas-bound and a beer drinker? You’ll be far happier you stuffed the bilge with cases of your favorite beer ($60 a case in the Bahamas) instead of tucking away bags of flour (found on every island for less than in the US)
d. Ease of carrying when you have access to a car and stores you know.
e. Flexibility and intractability