Sunday, March 10, 2013

Can Controversy

Who knew?...  So we bought a few canned good staples... peeled off the labels... wrote the contents on the cans and stuffed them into the Port Settee hullside locker...  This sparked a rousing round of commentary on the Dos Libras Facebook page...

You just never know what's gonna set one of these things off!  But!  It got us thinking... we were reminded of things that helped us to clarify our thoughts about what and how to stockpile.

I will admit that in our life on land, I had a large pantry full of stuff that went in there to die.  I would buy an ingredient or a few cans of something and never see them again.  Now and then we would sort through and throw out the expired stuff... and there was a LOT of expired stuff!  This is something I vowed to work on once we moved aboard... and I would say that while not cured, I'm certainly recovering.

Yes... I know that there will be food everywhere we go... (at least I hope there will...).  But here's the thing.  I would like to ease into this and need to have a stock of staple ingredients on hand that I think will allow us to make familiar and easy meals, with the addition of a few fresh items purchased along the way.  We will be stocking a few of our "go to" meals for those times when we don't really have anything great to fix.  Bruce just can't live without canned chili.  Sometimes he just wants it!

I have a Sam's Club membership through my work that will expire at about the same time I quit my job.   I have found their stock limited but the few things they have that we DO use can be purchased in bulk for less than we would pay in a regular grocery store.  Especially with small town store prices like here in Port A.  So, we have made a couple of trips to Sam's... and will probably make one more run.

Cleaning the grime and mildew from the hull.
We are still learning to use our space.  Thus far, we have left many of the little cubbies and lockers alone.  The space in our galley has been sufficient for our needs.  But... we need to explore the storage options and this takes time.  I'm a clean freak and must first make sure that the proposed storage nook is clean, dry (mostly) and free of grime and mildew.  I cleaned the boat when we got her but have found that it is time to do it again...  This means we drag out stuff, find new places for it, go to work with the cleaning supplies and follow up with a spritz of Tea Tree oil & water to discourage future mildew growth.  Then it has to dry naturally.  Finally, I'm using that rubbery mesh stuff found in the shelf-paper aisle along the hull as a cushion to reduce noise and so that air can circulate between the cans and the hull.

We will be taking a stock of paper goods along as well.  I've purchased TP, tissue and paper towels but haven't decided where we will store them yet.  They'll probably go behind or beneath our bed in the aft cabin but I haven't found sturdy waterproof bags to store them in or devised a way to secure them yet.  We can't have them moving around in stormy seas and working their way over to the steering quadrant causing havoc...

And what's the deal with removing the labels from the cans?  I have done a lot of reading about storage issues while cruising.   One helpful hint that I picked up is that the cans can often move around causing their labels to come off.  If this happens, it's mystery meals for us!  I'm being proactive in removing the labels from cans stored in the less accessible lockers so that this doesn't happen to us.  Also, if the labels come off, they have to go somewhere... I'm thinking this would be a soggy mess to clean up in the bowels of the boat.  If the labels don't come off... they may become mildewy and nasty looking which is a turnoff to me.  I'd rather remove them from the onset than deal with possible future complications.

My next round of purchases will be things like powdered milk and eggs.  I just need to know they are there when I need them.  Rice, pasta and baking ingredients will need to be transferred from their original packaging to moisture proof containers.  I haven't decided what I will use for those things but will probably be using storage boxes to further protect them from moisture.  Those will most likely be stored in the v-berth when we don't have guests.

Lastly, there are some foods that we just love and are brand specific.  I will cruise the aisles of the HEB super store and load the basket with those things that make us happy.  I know that I will develop new loves in our travels... but it helps me to know that for a while, there will be at least SOME of the comforts of home....


  1. Stockpiling food on a boat is one of those things that everyone does a little differently, and takes some time to know what's right for YOU. You'll find the right balance for yourselves as you go, and meanwhile, I remember how "scary" it was to leave home (and Trader Joe's) behind for the unknown... and how tempting it was to stuff the boat full! Food for us is just so much more than just sustenance- like you point out, it's a happy reminder of home.

    In the years since we left I have just migrated away from stashing much food (and few cans) aboard because 1) people everywhere have to eat, so it's pretty easy to just buy as you go 2) I find most canned food is pretty gross anyway 3) buying fresh local food is tastier and healthier. On the other hand, when we knew we'd be spending months in expensive countries (the season we sailed from Mexico to Australia), we loaded up in cheap Mex and saved a bundle on what we might have spent otherwise had we purchased some of the same things at Pacific island prices. And of course, you HAVE to have that ginger for your sushi! That's a list that's easy to grow... ;-) OH HEY that reminds me. One thing I found really helpful to stash, if you bake much, are powdered eggs. Hard to find, we just source via mail order. They are disgusting to eat scrambled (truly gross. trust me) but they meant I could keep baking when our supply of eggs ran out, and more weren't locally available...

    1. Behan, I've been reading your blog for a long time and I have so much respect for your opinion! Thanks for commenting. One of the things I enjoy most about being in other countries is the FOOD! It's going to take us a while to get to other countries!
      I agree that canned food is not the best and we really don't eat much of it in our normal routine. But I do take comfort in having ingredients that we are used to having, at least for a while. It's going to take us a while to get to a part of the US that is more "Cruiser Friendly" with places to dock the dinghy and get to the store... so I do worry about running out of things. The Texas Gulf Coast isn't really cruised very often... kind of off the beaten path. I'm SURE I'll get over my stock-piling phase once we find a groove.
      Maybe someday I'll even be as cool as you are about doing without things... I was kind of freaked out about your family running out of propane in one of your recent posts!!! You just take it all in stride... Advice always welcome!