Before you end up with an entire case of food you really don't like, be sure to follow the cardinal rule of provisioning . . .

Try One First!

A few years ago, we went on a major family camping trip.  A total of 21 of us — kids, grandkids, cousins, aunts, uncles and us!  While not on a boat, many of the same principles applied — no electricity, no refrigerator, and hot!  Actually, my galley is quite luxurious by comparison . . .

Rather than trying to keep meat all week in the cooler, I opted to use canned meats (see my mini-series on using canned meats for great meals).  And that brings up today’s tip:

When you buy a new brand of an item, buy one first and try it before buying several!

When I was planning our meals, I planned a couple using canned ham.  I went to the store and they only had one can of the Hormel ham that I usually buy . . . but there was another brand, so I bought one Hormel and one can of the new brand.

The first night camping, I made ham and pasta with lots of veggies mixed in.  So I grabbed the new brand of ham and opened the can.  Talk about totally unappetizing, mostly fat and disgusting looking!  (I’m sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the can or note the brand, but it had a blue label and I’d never heard of the brand before.)

I quickly substituted one of the cans of Hormel (thankfully, I always take food for at least an extra day, so we weren’t going to go hungry).  I thought I’d give Paz (our dog) a bit of a treat, so instead of just throwing the other out, I put a couple of spoonfuls in her bowl.  She sniffed and refused to eat it!

When we’d been cruising outside the US, I’d always followed the “buy one first” rule, as we’d discovered that many times things weren’t quite what we expected (very sweet ketchup or peanut butter, tough canned peas and corn).  But this reminded me that it’s a good rule even in the US, particularly when you’re going to be in places where you can’t easily buy something else.  I’m sure glad I had plenty of proven alternatives with me!

And while my example is of canned ham, the rule applies to pretty much anything — canned goods, packaged foods, cookies, crackers, soft drinks, beer, baked goods and more.  Many times, you’ll discover wonderful new treats.  But sometimes, you’ll save yourself both money on unappetizing food . . . and the choice of either going hungry or eating what the dog won’t!

  • Lois Grimmer Edwards on Facebook
    Posted at 03 April 2013 Reply

    Same goes for growing it if you don’t eat it (unless you can sell it) don’t grow it.

  • Jorge Bermudez on Facebook
    Posted at 03 April 2013 Reply

    It was hot? What country?

  • Robert VanBurkleo
    Posted at 03 April 2013 Reply

    In the survivalism and preparedness world the mantra is “Store what you eat and eat what you store” Survival and preparedness shops are great places to find canned meats such as Mountain House and Yoders brands that store for 10 years or more and taste good. Survival and being prepared is exactly what you are doing on a boat so look in those shops for long term food storage when you provision a boat.

  • Elaine Ebaugh on Facebook
    Posted at 04 April 2013 Reply

    Definitely the smart thing to do when you can. But for the cruising chef on the move there isn’t always time to sample products short of doing it in the store. New markets & products in different countries, limited transportation & logistics can make for challenging shopping days. Sometimes we have to buy and hope for the best. Have had some pleasant surprises along with the disappointments.

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 04 November 2014 Reply

    on one visit to martinique, we started a new thing while buying wine. we previously would buy 4 or 5 bottles in our price range, then try them over several days. often our favorite would be sold out when we went back to the store. so we started popping them open with our swiss army knife outside, doing a quick comparison, and going right back in and stocking up on the best one. many of our friends startd doing the same!

  • Peggy Stone
    Posted at 02 October 2016 Reply

    Very good advice. We made this mistake on our first long trip.

  • Keith Marler
    Posted at 02 October 2016 Reply

    Brooke Todaro Marler Carlos Hernandez

  • James Fiske
    Posted at 16 September 2017 Reply

    Michael Crees. Probably good advice. After all those hot dogs weren’t great were they…

  • Gayle Fox
    Posted at 16 September 2017 Reply

    Like my hurricane panic purchases at Dollar General..ugh.

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