Meals in a Hurry

When you’re living ashore and have had a long day, it’s easy to call out for a pizza or go out for a quick bite.  Once you’re away from a marina, you don’t have that option.

We all have those days when we just don’t feel like spending time fixing dinner.  Sometimes it’s for a “fun” reason like a hike that took longer than expected or a fantastic snorkeling expedition.  More often, it’s because repairs or maintenance took longer that expected . . . or were totally unexpected!  You’re frustrated, you’re tired, and you just want something to eat.  And there’s no McDonald’s or Domino’s.  Once again, you’re on your own.  Self-sufficiency in cruising takes many forms.

I can’t make the repairs easier, but I can give you some ideas for quick meals.  No, they’re not gourmet, many aren’t a balanced meal, and they’re not what we want to eat every day.  But then, fast food and pizza aren’t gourmet or balanced either.

Keep a List

I found it really helpful to keep a list of ideas for “meals in a hurry” on a note card stuck in with my cookbooks.  At the end of a long day — say 10 pm after tearing apart the lazarette and standing on my head to help Dave find the fuel leak in the diesel — I just didn’t have the energy to come up with an idea for food.  I could just look at my list, pick something out and fix it in about 5 minutes.  Perfect!

Canned Meats

I always keep several types of canned meat on hand.  Canned meat doesn’t need refrigeration (great if your electrical system goes down and the refrigerator is off) and is pre-cooked, making it fast to use.  Thus many of my ideas use canned meats of various types.  Check out my canned meat tips and canned meat meal ideas — most are fairly quick to make, although not all meet the 5-minute requirement I have for my list.

5-Minute Meal Ideas

  • Leftovers (great if you have some . . . but we never seemed to when we needed them)
  • Sandwiches from any of the canned meats — tuna, ham salad and roast beef are particularly good.
  • Crackers, cheese and fruit.
  • Mix a can of mixed veggies and a can of chicken (include the liquid) into chicken ramen noodles.
  • Scrambled eggs with whatever cooked meat, cheese or veggies (onion, tomatoes, or mushrooms for starters) mixed in.
  • Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.
  • Sauté a can of hash with some onions and a healthy dose of black pepper — crack an egg over the top if you feel like it.
  • Peanut butter on celery or carrots or with crackers.

What do you do for dinner when it's late, you're tired and there's no restaurant or carry out? Five minute meals!

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  • Karen Taylor
    Posted at 02 August 2011 Reply

    Our favorite fast and easy meal is beef stew made with
    1 can corned beef
    1 can mixed vegetables
    1 can potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
    1 packet of beef or brown gravy mix

    Combine corned beef, mixed vegetables (and liquid), and potatoes in a medium sized sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Add the gravy mix and stir well. Bring to gentle boil for at least one minute or until desired consistency is reached. Serve with bread, crackers, or over reheated left over rice.

    Serves 2 (double canned goods to serve 4)

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 02 August 2011 Reply

      Sounds good! Who knows, it might end up being dinner tomorrow night — I’m pretty sure I have all the ingredients.

      Thanks for adding it!


  • Jeannie Lawson on Facebook
    Posted at 08 January 2012 Reply

    I hate pizza so never look for a pizza joint…a good restaurant is better…

  • Michelle Beatty on Facebook
    Posted at 08 January 2012 Reply

    never met anyone who hated pizza….hummmm

  • Michelle
    Posted at 08 January 2012 Reply

    i am a fan of apples and oeanut butter

  • Michelle
    Posted at 08 January 2012 Reply

    peanut butter to..
    dont know why I insist on replying when im on my cell

  • Joe & Ana
    Posted at 08 January 2012 Reply

    We like to make quesadillas, Any kind of cheese on either corn or Flour tortillas. You can add avocado if you got ’em also any kind of left over meat makes it great too – easy to make of bbq or micro even on the stove top!!

  • Downeaster32
    Posted at 03 April 2012 Reply

    Boil water, wash & slice sweet potato, drop into boiling water, let sit 5-7 mins, done.

  • Heather
    Posted at 19 January 2013 Reply

    Ditto on the quesadillas, but I use a layer of refried baked beans with — or instead of cheese – with salsa and avocado if I have it. I also do the ramen trick, but instead of canned veggies, I just throw in the canned chicken along with some soy sauce or fish sauce, hot sauce, some sliced up ginger and shredded cabbage — great way to add fiber and veggies. I’m also a big fan of a simple bowl of pasta with lemon (or lime) and broccoli — cook the pasta, throw in the broccoli halfway through, drain, stir in some butter, squeeze over a lemon or two, and grind fresh pepper.

  • Dave Skolnick
    Posted at 21 September 2013 Reply

    Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato and/or avocado.

    Home-canned homemade soup.

    Matzo brai (family and cultural icon)

    Spaghetti (admittedly a bit more than five minutes for the pasta)

  • Molly Stokes
    Posted at 22 September 2013 Reply

    I got through college with this recipe: can of Tuna, can of mushroom soup and small can of peas over toast.

  • D.K.
    Posted at 16 February 2014 Reply

    Saute canned chicken in olive oil with your generic Italian Seasoning mix. Mix in powdered Parmesan cheese near the end of the cooking, let rest for 5 minutes, and serve over whatever you have on hand.

  • Becky Croston
    Posted at 19 August 2014 Reply

    Send for “Johnies Salad Elegance ” shaker of seasonings. Heat a can of tuna or small
    rinsed shrimp or crab, stir in mayo. Pile on english muffin halves on cookie sheet. (2 halves fill the hungry sailor!) Lay on cheddar cheese slice. Heat or broil in oven or micro. until cheese melts. Sprinkle seasoning on generously and eat. (May be really hot inside so take care!) Very fast and satisfying.Great for fresh white fish too!

  • Sue
    Posted at 19 August 2014 Reply

    Tuna mornay…tuna in quick cheese sauce and a can of creamed corn, often made after an unsuccessful fishing turn 🙂 or baked beans and poached egg on toast.

  • Shari
    Posted at 19 August 2014 Reply

    closer to ten minutes, if you don’t have ramen: heat up some broth (or water in a pinch) or some water with tomato product (stewed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, crushed, paste, whatever you have), boil small pasta in it (orzo, pastina, stars), add in any greens you have around, such as spinach or arugula or leftovers, and poach some eggs in it at the last minute. One pot, satisfying. I make this after a long day.

  • tami
    Posted at 19 August 2014 Reply

    It’s summer in the Gulf, which means we don’t even want to think about cranking the stove. So I made a cold bean salad: can of crowder peas; can of Ro-tel habañero; olive oil; Italian seasoning mix; Slap Your Mama seasoning salt. Mixed the peas and rotel, added some Italian seasoning, a little SYM, and drizzled with olive oil.

    Didn’t know if we’d like it, but it was what was on the boat, and yes, it was good!

    I ALWAYS keep a couple cans of Rotel – I like the habanero, and the cilantro/lime. Rotel is like Sriracha – it can fix even the worst food, ha ha

  • Edd Rauch
    Posted at 19 August 2014 Reply

    1 can tomato paste, 1/2 that can olive oil, 1 can chopped black olives, 1 bunch finely chopped green onions, 4 oz. grated cheese. Mix well in bowl. Spread onto sliced extra sourdough bread. toast in oven on high about 6 minutes (till toasted on bottom and cheese melted) I do 4 on a cookie sheet at a time and reload it, then there are fresh hot ones when the wife and I finish the first 2. Great as a meal, or cut into quarters and use as finger snacks.

  • Kim Boston
    Posted at 06 December 2014 Reply

    My old college favorite we use on the boat now & then.
    One can of Tuna, box of prepared Kraft macaroni & cheese (cooked per directions), can of peas, small can of mushrooms, 1 + cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Mix together & heat til hot (microwave works but oven is better). Top with crushed up potatoe chips. Prep time is 5 minutes (after you’ve cooked Mac n Cheese). Can feed 4.

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