In July 2017, we are setting off for a very long cruise. We are going to start with a Trans-Atlantic voyage, stopping at Bermuda and at the Azores. Our plans from there are not set in stone and can change at a moments notice. One thing that will not change is our need for sustenance.
Food on a cruising yacht is referred to as "provisions" because they are assets that are set aside for a later need, such as feeding the crew and keeping them alive! There are two main types of provisions on a cruising yacht: short term and long term.
Short term provisions are foods that will not last very long, also known as perishables. Short term provisions tend to be "fresh foods" that are tasty, but expire shortly and must be consumed before this time comes. These include items like milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and breads. Within this category, the foods will last different amounts of time. An egg stored without refrigeration (and turned frequently) will last a month easily, while a banana will ripen and spoil in a week.
Short term provisions are always purchased right before departure that way they can last as long into the voyage as possible. Once they are used up, you won't have any more until you make landfall again.
Long term provisions are foods that will last for a very long time. While short term provisions expire in days or weeks, long term provisions will last for years. These tend to be canned foods, which are not always as tasty as fresh foods. Canned vegetables are disgusting, but canned beans and meats can make a very tasty meal! It is important to try out a specific canned food before you stock up on it. It won't expire for years and if you don't like it, you won't have any excuse to throw it out for years!
Since canned foods can last for years, you can safely stock up on them in your home port in preparation for your journey. Stocking up on canned foods long before your departure date will greatly reduce the stress and cost of last minute provisioning. The cost and work had been spread out over the past few months, now all of your time and money can be spent on what you need for the short term provisions.
The other advantage of carrying a large storage of canned foods is they keep for a long time and give you more flexibility in your shopping at foreign ports. You know where to find the best deals where you live because you are a local. When you arrive in a new port, you are not a local and a great deal may be hiding from you just around the corner, or on the other side of town! You will be subjected to the prices that are presented to you in the area near your yacht. If these prices are prohibitively high and you don't have enough food on board, you will be forced to purchase these high priced foods or starve. If you have plenty of canned goods stored on board and the prices are too high for your budget, you can buy just what you need and continue on to a new land with better prices. Your canned foods will keep you fed and going as you continue on your voyage.
Our plan is to carry enough canned foods to feed us for close to a year. This may sound extreme, but we have plenty of locker space and we like canned fish and canned beans! Canned beans will not be our main source of food, but we have been known to eat beans right from the can on rough days and nights. Neither of us felt like spending much time in the galley so beans seemed easy enough. At the end of the meal, all we had to do was wash the spoon! This kept effort and morale at a minimum as we worked our way through the stormy seas. Once the weather cleared, we resumed our usual methods of cooking and eating real meals prepared in the galley.
To meet our idea of "enough canned food for a year" we would need approximately 400 cans of beans, 200 cans of fish, and 100 cans of meat. This may sound like a monumental number of cans (and a lot of weight), and it would be if we had to cart and store all of this in one trip to the store. By spreading it out over many months, we are able to confront the cost and effort involved in a more manageable way.