13 January 2014

Provisioning In New Zealand

One of the many hidey-holes that we stash our food in on the boat.
What Scott might call "overkill", I call super-duper provisioning. I might have even reached new heights in organizing things. I'm not sure why Scott is so surprised by my fascination with provisioning as a supreme exercise in organization. It isn't like he hasn't met my mother before. Now there is a woman who knows what organization is all about. She doesn't even have a junk drawer in her kitchen, something the rest of us do, because her motto is, "Everything has a place and everything in its place." Junk that defies organization simply doesn't have a place in her home. Scott should count his lucky stars that I can't even begin to match my mother's prowess in this area and am merely a dabbler in organization from time to time - like now, with this whole living on a boat thing.

Provisioning is just a fancy term for "food shopping and food storage on a boat." And to be honest, we don't really need to do serious provisioning in New Zealand as a grocery store or general store is never very far away. It isn't like we're doing some long offshore passage or anything. (Scott - we're not, we're really, really not. Maybe someday, maybe. Or maybe not.) When we lived in central Auckland there were three grocery stores just minutes from our apartment so we could pop out whenever we needed to get something. On the boat it is a little different and if you run out of milk then it takes some effort to head to the "big city", one of the islands or a provincial town to stock back up. And I really don't want to have to revolve our cruising life around proximity to the store. So we're stocking up. Big time. That way we can stay out as long as we want, with plenty of food options on board with which to make tasty meals, before we have to head back in. And we can also save money and have more variety as once you get out of the "big city", things are often more expensive and there tends to be less choice.

For the past couple of months, when something we like has been on sale, I've bought a couple extra and I did a big shop in December. Because we don't have a fridge on our boat, I've had to think a bit differently about what we buy. More things in cans, flour to make our own bread, long-lasting vegies and no fresh meat. Here are some of the types of things we have on board our boat (courtesy of my provisioning madness):
  • Tinned beans & lentils - Mostly kidney beans, but other types as well such as cannellini, refried beans, chick peas etc. You can do a lot with beans such as soups, dips, chili etc. And they are good for you too!
  • Rice, pasta & other grains - I have quite a few bags of pasta, udon noodles, basmati rice, rice mixes and couscous on board. I found last summer when we were out on the boat that we ate a lot of pasta because it is pretty quick and easy. Usually with some sort of red sauce, but I'm quite a fan of peanut noodles too.
  • Tinned & jarred vegies - Other than tomatoes (which I use a lot of on land and water), we don't normally eat a lot of vegies from tins and jars. But keeping fresh produce on the boat without a fridge is a bit of a challenge, so we're going to try using more vegies that come out of containers. Lots and lots of tins of tomatoes and other miscellaneous vegies like peas, roasted peppers, mushrooms, potatoes and corn. We've also brought along some fresh cabbage with us - lasts a long time and I'm a big fan.
  • Tinned & dried fruit - We have some cans of pineapple and peaches, as well as raisins on board. In terms of fresh fruit, apples last a long time so we've also stocked up on these, and I'm experimenting with extending the life of lemons by wrapping them in foil which is a tip I read somewhere.
  • Nuts - I love peanut butter and it is a great form of protein that doesn't need to be stored in a fridge. So we have a few jars plus some walnuts and pine nuts.
  • Baking supplies - As we don't have an oven on our boat, I've been experimenting with making various bread-like things in a skillet such as scones, tortillas, fry bread etc. So I've got all the various supplies we need on board to keep us loaded up on carbs. I've also got boxes of crackers and some packaged tortillas for those times when I can't or don't want to make our own bread items.
  • Snacks - Of course we have snack foods, but we've tried to keep them to a minimum. We'll see if we stick to that resolution. I do have some granola/cereal bars which are good in the morning if we have to make an early start and don't have time for a proper breakfast. And I even squirreled away a couple of chocolate bars and some cookies. Don't tell Scott. If he finds them, he'll eat them all in one sitting and then complain that his tummy hurts.
  • Tinned meat - I'm actually leery of the whole meat out of a can kind of thing. But I bought one can of chicken and one can of salmon to try out. Scott likes to fish, so we'll be able to augment our meat supply with snapper when the fish are being cooperative. And when we're in town restocking our food supplies we can always buy some fresh meat and cook it that day.
  • Eggs - We've got a fair few eggs on board as they last a long time and don't require refrigeration. You just need to turn them regularly.
  • Soup - I just have a couple of cans of soup on board. I generally don't think soup from a can tastes that great and prefer to make our own, but it is good to have something ready made for those days when no one wants to cook.
  • Odds & Ends - And then of course we have the usual supply of herbs, spices, oils, jam, condiments etc. Not to mention boring things like toilet paper, paper towels and Ziploc bags.
  • Drinks - We generally don't drink soda pop or fruit juice so I haven't stocked up on these. I like milk in my coffee and I use it for making scones and pancakes, so I've stocked up on powdered trim milk. And we do drink a lot of coffee so there is plenty on board. I think Scott will truly appreciate my foresight in this area. He could probably happily go without food for days, but a morning without coffee on our boat would not be pleasant for anyone. We might have some beverages of the alcoholic nature on board too...mostly gin for our sundowners, but some bottles of wine as well.

I've even created a spreadsheet to track what we start out with, what we end up needing to buy during the summer and what's left over at the end of the three months. My bet is on the can of mutton stew, which we bought last summer and didn't eat, makes it through this summer unscathed as well. You have to love a good spreadsheet too. They are so much fun - you can filter and sort data - how exciting! You can see clearly that you started out with one can of mutton stew at the beginning of the summer and ended up with one can of mutton stew at the end. It is important to track things like mutton stew, but for some reason, Scott remains unconvinced of the beauty of a well-constructed spreadsheet. We'll see if he changes his mind when his belly is full thanks to a well-provisioned and organized boat.

Some of the food waiting to be transported. If you look closely you can see a giant Cadbury Dairy Milk bar with hazelnuts. They were  on sale, two for NZ$4, so it only made sense to buy some. There also seems to be a lot of crackers. Oh, and you can see the udon noodles too! We love ourselves a bowl of udon noodle soup.
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  1. Mutton stew reminds me of the tinned lamb tongues we found last year. Both things that have no appeal to me. No fridge, no freezer - that would be really difficult, but it sounds like you really have it under control. As for the Cadbury, I can't eat chocolate on a boat.

    1. We saw those lamb tongues in the store the other day. There was no way they were going in our shopping trolley, that's for sure! It's too bad you can't eat chocolate on the boat - it is a must have for me.


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