The Second Rule of Provisioning

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

Your tastes and preferences aren't going to change just because you're on a boat. Trust me on this. And remember it when you're provisioning . . .

If the first rule of provisioning is to try one before buying a large stock of something, the second rule has to be not to think that you’ll eat differently on board than you have ashore.  Seriously, your tastes just aren’t going to change that much.

By that, I mean that if you’ve always liked salad and hated canned vegetables, don’t stock up on the canned spinach and neglect any sort of salad.  You’ll only hate your meal choices.

True, you may need to find variations on some things.  To continue the above example, lettuce doesn’t last too long as the motion of the boat quickly bruises it.  But cabbage lasts well and you can make all sorts of good cabbage salads (there are a dozen in The Boat Galley Cookbook) — it doesn’t have to be the same thing every day!  And instead of heating up that canned spinach, think about using a can of green beans as the base for a salad.

Similarly, if having a cup of good coffee has always been part of your morning ritual, don’t think that you’re going to suddenly switch to using instant coffee and be happy about it.  You may want a small jar of instant for patches of rough weather, but get the good stuff and a coffee maker that will work on the boat.

If you’ve always been lukewarm at best about a tuna sandwich, don’t decide that’s what you’re going to have for lunch every day just because it’s easy to stow a case of tuna.  You won’t eat it.  You’ll rummage around and come up with something else to eat.

Admittedly, it’s easier to take cans of beer on the boat than bottles of wine.  But if you’ve never liked beer, you’re not going to be too happy when it comes time for a sundowner even if you do have a gorgeous view of the harbor.

If you think something might be a good food on the boat and it’s different from what you normally eat, go back to Rule #1 and try one first.  You may find a new favorite.  And you may not . . . but at least you won’t be stuck with a month’s supply!

Storage space on a boat is precious (and so is your food budget).  Don’t waste it on food that you won’t eat.

Print Friendly
How to Copy

Do You Find The Boat Galley Useful?

You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost to you!



  1. Ann Snider on Facebook says:

    I think people also have realized the same thing in provisioning for Hurricane Sandy. Most people just don’t LIKE Dinty Moore Beef Stew but they bought it anyway! LOL

  2. They do evolve though.

    • Very true, we don’t eat at all the same as we did when we began cruising. But if I’d provisioned then for the way we eat now, well, let’s just say it wouldn’t have been pretty . . .

  3. Cruising in Asia has changed our eating habits…and we were much healthier than we were. We do have stuff on the boat we have never eaten after 8 years haha. I knew the things I cooked, but my husband wanted to make sure that we did not run out of food and he insisted on bringing things with us that I knew we would never use. One job I will have when we get back to our boat will be to cull all of this. Enjoy Barefoot Gal.

  4. 🙂

  5. need some galley recipes for cruising without refrigeration

  6. Al Felker says:

    We live on our boat so we have provisioning every 10 days usually.

  7. Rules 1-5 for me: Simple. I’ve learned my lesson on preparing for passages. Keep it simple. I love to cook, but on passages it’s not happening. Sure, I’ve cooked up some amazing meals pre-passage all ready to be warmed up and have a delicious hot meal while off shore. Most times, neither one of us will be willing to do anything more in the galley than grab something from the frig. Plenty of premade sandwiches, fruit and granola bars is what we feed on while on passage. The gourmet dinner will have to wait until the anchor is set.

  8. Just discovering some nice canned meats in the French supermarkets. Heat and go…Spam and ham are no longer the only options!

  9. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Once had crew wince at my cream of wheat provision list item due to bad childhood memories. All changed in the first 2 days of seasickness when she realized the advantage of something warm, bland, and sipable that turned to immovable concrete in the belly. Only most of my provisioning is a projection of cravings.

  11. Good advice.

  12. Dunno about others, but the “go to” cruising snack for Carolyn and I is hand-popped popcorn. We always buy yellow corn (pops much better than white) and use canola oil for popping and a bit of fine sea salt to season. If you use the BEST popper–the hand cranked “Whirley Pop”, it will change your entire view on this great snack! Plus it is fast/easy. I’ve popped popcorn for 300, in about 20 min. Plus…with a little practice…a well-timed addition of one tablespoon of brown sugar and…voila…”kettle korn!” Best price in a quick search seemed to be….

  13. Claire Ford says:

    All the food suggestions are great. I learned this on our first cruising adventure 11years ago when we moved off. We’re at it again with a new-to-us boat, and I’ve discovered that kitchen utensils run in the same category–buy only what you’re used to using at home. All those “fancy” items become space hogs.

  14. Sounds yummy Chad. We’re real popcorn addicts aboard Distant Shores II 🙂

  15. Hi Lynn. Yes provisioning for an offshore voyage in St. Martin/St. Maarten has been heavenly. We’re going to be eating well on this transatlantic passage!

  16. What, you wouldn’t take the chance of stocking up on a case each of these? 😉

  17. You foodies might like this….6 months ago a friend in Napa was having wild boar problems in his orchard. After sitting for a couple of days, I got a big 300 lb boar. We had a big cruiser potluck and fed about 75 folks, but…this week we just tasted out first “wild boar prosciutto” we started making 6 months ago. Hmmmm…Could this be the first “sailboat made boar prosciutto” in modern times?? Heh! Deeeelicious!!

  18. And if your in the Bahamas and the Admiral eats a salad every day will this be a problem

    • Cabbage salads . . . also we do a lot of salad with green beans as the base instead of lettuce. Yes, lettuce is a problem in the Bahamas . . . but there are lots of salads that you can make without lettuce.

Add Your Thoughts