Being a food nerd and an avid cook, I’ve been looking forward to the challenge of provisioning for our journey. The internet is full of regretful accounts from now-seasoned cruisers who first stocked their boats as if they’d never see a grocery store again, only to throw away hundreds of dollars in expired cans of green beans and Spam years later.
With these cautionary tales in mind, I’ve set the following guidelines to follow for our provisioning:
Only buy foods that we’d cook and eat normally – Living in New York, we’ve enjoyed access to tons of great specialty food shops, farmers’ markets, and high quality grocery stores. As a result, our diets are seasonally driven and ethnically diverse. We’re fortunate to be able to afford a diet that has never included many canned vegetables, fruits, meats, or processed foods and if I bought those things, I know they would just sit at the bottom of the bilge, never to be used.
Stock up on versatile, flavorful ingredients – Wherever we go, there will be food stores and there will be fresh things to buy. I cannot predict what will be available, but by stocking up on a full arsenal of fresh spices (vacuum sealed to lengthen their potency), and condiments, I know I will be able to make something delicious out of whatever is available – even if it’s just onions, potatoes, and cabbage (curry, anyone?)
Consider what we’d miss – We’re all for trying out the local cuisine in the places that we travel, but there are certain hard to find items that I know we’ll desire when we want a taste of home. As with our beverage needs, I’ve stocked hard-to-find items that we’ll be craving while we’re away, including good quality chocolate for baking, our favorite nuts, dried fruits, and trail mixes, and certain specialty and imported products of which I’m quite fond. Also, I hear that Heinz ketchup (the only ketchup, IMHO) can be hard to find, so check! it makes the list.
Stock dry staples – There are certain types of grains, beans, pastas and lentils that will go well with whatever fresh things we find to cook with in local stores. We didn’t go too crazy buying these in bulk, but I did stock a nice little supply to lay away, just in case we can’t find what we’re looking for in every port.
Be realistic – There are going to be days that I’m just not that into cooking, and days that we’re out of fresh ingredients. For these times, we’ll have plenty of LaraBars, Kind bars, cereal, and mac n’cheese. We’ll also have a “sin bin” containing our guilty pleasures: gummy bears, peanut butter cups, and salt n’ vinegar chips.
With our provisioning list (click here to see my working document) and most shopping complete, I’m feeling good about my plan for keeping us full of delicious, nutritious food. The bottom line is that provisioning is a very personal process, and what works for one crew is most likely not-quite-right for the next.