One of the topics I often struggle with in writing The Boat Galley is giving tips on provisioning. There usually isn’t a “general rule” of what foods are best as each boat’s “water situation” will determine what works for them. That is, of course, leaving aside any personal preferences you may have.
Basically, how much water you have — and how long it has to last — has a huge impact on what other provisions will suit you best:
- If you’re out for a few days with good tankage for the number of people aboard, you can use more foods that need water added — these will typically be lighter and take less space than “no water needed” variations.
- The same is true if you have a watermaker or make frequent stops where you can fill the tanks.
- However, if you’re trying to make your tank supply last as long as possible, you’re better off using “water included” provisions.
The space savings of being able to use dry versions are considerable, but you really have to think about the water supply. And while the “dry” versions usually weigh less themselves (and may be a consideration in lugging them from the grocery to the boat), the space taken up by extra tankage on the boat often equals out any savings.
After several years of cruising, Dave and I (and dog Paz) found we used about 7 gallons of fresh water a day during the tropical summer — drinking, cooking, dishes, and quick Sunshower “showers” every 2 to 3 days and rinses after swimming on the other days. Five gallons a day is about the least I’ve heard of a couple using, except in extreme circumstances. And I know of several (with very large watermakers!) who use 40 gallons a day or more.
Once you figure out where you comfortably fit on the spectrum of water availability, you can plan your provisions accordingly. For example:
- Cans and bottles of soft drinks and water OR powdered mixes (or a SodaStream) and a water filter so that the tank water tastes good?
- Boxes and cans of broth OR bouillon cubes?
- Canned beans OR dried beans?
But sometimes the water needed is less visible . . . such as that needed to boil corn on the cob . . . or soak and wash a roast pan. Careful planning can limit the “extra” needed (use the corn water to soak the roast pan, for example) but if you know your water supply is going to be limited, you do have to take it into consideration.
NOTE: This isn’t meant as a suggestion that you need to have a watermaker (read more about that decision), huge water tanks or make frequent stops to fill the tanks. But if you’re new to cooking on a boat, the water supply is something that you have to consider when planning meals and purchasing supplies. With time, it’ll become automatic as you get a feel for how long your onboard supply will last under various conditions.