Monday, January 07, 2013

Provisioning Sucks

Our fridge, after going "grocery shopping" today.  We are in trouble.
I mentioned it a couple posts ago, but I seriously dread provisioning the boat.  I literally have no idea how to do it right and obviously this is 100% due to the simple fact that I am a terrible cook.  Sure, I can follow a recipe, but to just come up with something to cook for dinner? A couple times every single day? That is seriously hard work for me.  Each evening around dinner time I stand here in the galley, totally dumbfounded while staring at the mish-mash of contents in our cupboards.  I totally draw a blank.  I have ZERO creativity and to just, ya know, "throw this and that together" is not how I roll.  Nine times out of ten I end up settling on an apple with peanut butter, cheese and crackers or something similar.  This actually works great for me, but for Scott (who is a fat man in a fit man's body) these pairings are considered "snacks" and not "meals".  Men, ugh.

Scott's actually a great sport about it most of the time and even says he loves my "cooking" on the incredibly rare occasion I get inspired.  More than once during this hiatus, however, he's dropped hints that we need to kick it up a notch in the galley.  "Hey! I have an idea" he'll say all excited-like, "Let's come up with ten easy dishes that we like so that we can have a little variety in our diet this time around" or "Now that we have a fridge and freezer, I wonder if we'll eat peanut butter on toast every single day for breakfast?" Hint, hint.  (And yes, we actually did eat peanut butter on toast every day for almost a solid eighteen months).  On Rasmus our dinners were slightly more varied and usually one of these five things:  rice and beans, grilled cheese, stir fry, pasta or soup...I guess I could come up with five more?

Since we've been on land for a while I have gotten even more lazy, relying far too heavily on local cafes and frozen meals.  Scott (before he left on this last captain rotation) began to notice this as well.  After I served him frozen pizza for the fourth time in almost as many days (it was organic and light!) he declared that he would be the primary cook aboard our boat.  I guess that could be considered a victory for me?  Like the kid who gets out of dish duty by breaking dishes?  Either way, something is going to have to change because we cannot leave with a hundred frozen pizzas on this boat.  But man would that be awesome...

My problem is that I can eat the same thing, day in and day out, with no problem.  I blame my British mother (who I adore) and natural inclination towards routine for my bland palette   If you think I am exaggerating, I will have you know that during college I got a Christmas present from my local subway.  How many of you can boast that you went to your fast food place of choice so much that you got a Christmas present from them?  I can.  I bought a foot long sub (almost) every. single. day. of my senior year and ate half for lunch, half for dinner.  To blow your mind even further, I never even strayed from my "usual" turkey (no cheese) sandwich with extra yellow mustard and all the veggies (minus the hot stuff).  Yeah, I know: BOR-ING.  But it makes my point, right?

Anywho...I was sitting here going through our last provisioning list and doing online research about the mysterious art of stocking up on food and my brain just shut down, much like it does when trying to think of something to make for dinner.  I decided my time would be better spent telling you about this so I don't have to look at excel spreadsheets full of random ingredients that I have no idea how to put together for the next couple hours.  So, yeah.  There's that.  I am obviously procrastinating.

As for dinner tonight, I've got a liter of coconut water and some pre-made pasta salad that served as dinner last night and lunch today.  Sigh.  Bon apetit!


Ben said...

When I'm not vagabond-ing it's toasted corn dogs for me and I've been working with food for the past 10 years. I'm still shopping for a liveaboard and I'm already dreading provisioning. You should listen to Scott... all the high end cafeterias have 10 day (or so) rotating menu schedules and just swap occasional ingredients to mix things up.

Carolyn - The Boat Galley said...

Hmmm, I think I'm starting to see the reason why you're skinny and I'm not . . . peanut butter on apples for dinner?

I think though that you've given me some ideas for posts on TBG -- basic meal planning and then turning it into provisions. Funny thing is, I never thought of someone hating to do it since that's the fun part to me!

Sorry you're having such a bad time of it and hope it goes better today!

Anonymous said...

A suggestion. Maybe if you decide "what's for dinner" after breakfast in the morning. Start by flipping through a cookbook or two, or doing a a quick search on line (when you have access) using the main ingredient you will be working with. Then you will have much of the day to think it through, as time allows. Once it's time to do the "deed", get your tools and ingredients organized (you seem incredibly organized) and have at it. I/ we have the opposite problem, we love to cook and are a little concerned as to how we will go about it when we shove off - a good problem to contemplate. Love your blog!



Courtney said...

On a boat it's all about using less to cook with, right? Doing dishes is never fun anyway, but you have limited counter and stove space, so the less you use the better. I did a number of stir-fry dinners that used only one pan. You can keep things very healthy as well, by cooking by color: add some red peppers to your broccoli, a little white in the form of cauliflower, and some kind of meat. It's simple, it's fast, it's yummy, and you can mix it up by being artistic rather than a chef.

Dani said...

I agree with you provisioning is hard, and I'm like you where eating the same thing 5 times in a row doesn't bother me but doesn't work for my husband. So while on land I have to learn to add variety.

I'm not sure if it makes it worse or better, but I cook all of our meals at home and love to cook, but have seriously sucked so far at provisioning the boat.

I've been cooking since I was a kid, in a house with lots of space and running water. When I get on the boat I'm like a fish out of water. It doesn't yet compute what is the best thing to cook, and how to stock it.

Something I do at home that might help you is pick some primary food choices you like.
For example-
Starchy: Noodles, Rice, Bread, Potatoes

Protien: Beef, Chicken, Tuna, Beans, Nuts, Eggs, Peanut Butter etc

Veggies: Green Beans, Corn, Squash, Zuchinni, Brocolli, Tomatoes, Spinach, Avocado, Garlic, Onions etc

Fruit: Apples, Oranges, Grapefruit Pineapple

Basics I always have: Butter, oil, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, hot sauce, Soy sauce etc.

I load up on these basics THEN find recipes that will work with them. Instead of finding individual recipes and trying to shop for ingredients for 5 different recipes at once. That can be seriously overwhelming.

I find that over time I can incorporate these "Basic" ingredients into recipes while adding more ingredients that are used many times in many recipes.

On our trip to Orange Beach last summer I mostly packed Ramen in a cup and chips. It was dreadful. You'll get better!!

Jessica said...

For three years straight my lunch at work would be a cup of steel cut oats with hot water and ground cinnamon added. Yummm. (That was sarcasm) So I feel like I'm in the same situation. Last time in the Carib did you find that you could find relatively cheap food when you went to where the locals did? Not even sit down restaurants necessarily, stands will work just fine for us!

Unknown said...

New to this blog- spent the last 2 weeks catching up. Got a recommendation from Zero to Cruising's blog.

Ramen not enough? Surprising, though being a young male teen, I enjoy cooking to a degree. Be it an omlet, egg cheese and ham sandwhich in the morning, buffalo chicken wrap (AMAZING!), tortillas, or anything that is simple.

I imagine when I am cruising one day, I will have lots of staples- canned tuna, ramen (some good books out there that are real recipes using the easy to cook with noodles), peanut butter, etc. Then shop for fresh food- chicken, fish, fresh veggies, etc. to add nutrition to my highly processed food. I love the list on The Boat Galley, and will add that book to my collection in the future.


Rebecca said...

Oh, honey, I am all about easy, fast and filling.

Spaghetti sauce out of a jar or can with a kielbasa or smoked sausage over wheat or whole grain pasta.

Bruschetta for lunch, just chopped tomatoes on French or Italian bread drizzled with olive oil, salt & pepper then topped with mozzarello and warmed in the oven. It's like French Bread pizza! But better! Yum.

Baked ziti! Just warm up the jar or can spaghetti sauce in the microwave while the pasta is boiling. I throw the ricotta in there, too. Then mix it all up with the pasta in an oven proof pan or dish, top with mozzarella and bake for about 10 minutes. No more than 30 minutes, and this is sooo good. Don't forget to season the mixture before topping with the cheese, tho. Just salt, pepper, garlic powder is fine.

We cook only about 3 things a week, just enough to rotate a little but not enough to make us feel like we are constantly cooking.

A pork roast or whole chicken in the oven makes for great leftovers you can just throw over rice or pasta the rest of the week. Add parmesan cheese for a little extra flavor.

I cook a big pot of chicken thighs, with just olive oil, salt & pepper. Then we throw some frozen veggies in with it one night, throw it over rice another night and with pasta & white jar sauce another night. All of this tastes way better than it sounds.

But the one I get the most raves about is chopping up zucchini & tomatoes and cooking it with chicken thighs over the stove with about a third of a small bottle of sesame oil. If you like any type of Asian food, this is delicious. AND it can be stretched by serving over rice or noodles.

Chicken soup! We don't put anything in ours but carrots, sometimes celery for taste - but then we throw the celery out. Again, it can be eaten over rice or pasta.

Just always be sure to make a largish batch so you have leftovers. I don't know why leftovers have such a bad reputation. They make everything so easy, and I don't find they taste any worse the second time around. In fact, that Asian chicken dish tastes even better after soaking in its own juices all night - or a couple of days.

Bird's Eye has a great inexpensive Thai mix of frozen veggies, complete with sauce. I don't know what you'll pick up while cruising, but I imagine fresh veggies will be even better than frozen.

Baked potatoes are easy in the microwave, and sweet potatoes make for a nice change.

And none of this makes a very big mess, so the clean up is pretty easy, especially after the first time when you're only reheating the leftovers.

Good luck!

Rebecca said...

Oh, forgot to tell you, always put a little chicken broth in the freezer when you make soup. It comes in handy for adding a bit of liquid to the fresh seafood you pick up in the islands, for adding to rice or pasta.

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