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Cooking may not be the first thing on your mind as you prepare for your fun and relaxing charter vacation. However, cooking on a boat is something worth giving some thought to before you depart, so there are no last minute meal panics once you board your boat. Cooking on-board is definitely different than cooking in your home kitchen, so it’s best to keep some pointers in mind to make your meals on board enjoyable and stress free.
Cooking wise, you can think of your charter as somewhat of a camping trip. Space, fuel, and refrigeration are limited, so it is wise to plan ahead. You will not be able to run out to local store when you are missing an ingredient come dinner time. You will need to have your menus planned out so that you know exactly what, and how much of it, you need to take on board with you. Galley kitchens are small, not a place you want to be spending an excess amount of your vacation time, so keep the meals quick and simple for the sake of whoever is doing the cooking on board.
As much as you may not want to sit and plan out your meals for your trip, that is really the most helpful way to prepare. Make a quick, but precise, list of the meals you will make and the ingredients needed to make them (and don’t forget about snacks!). This will save a lot of headaches when ordering your provisions and even more when the inevitable “what’s for dinner?” question comes up while on your charter. Hand held items for breakfast and lunch are a great idea, for example, lots of sandwiches, granola bars, pastries. Also, bring plenty of drinking water. If you are traveling with a group, be sure to get input from everyone including any food allergies, as there will be little room for substitutions come meal time. Sure, you may be able to stop and re-provision at some of your anchorages, but that is not how you will want to spend your day ashore!
Keep in mind the equipment you will have on your boat, which will probably not include an oven or microwave, so plan accordingly. Check out the detailed boat specs before you start planning, so you know exactly what you are working with and there are no surprises once you are out in the middle of the ocean.
Most charter yachts will have charcoal grills, so plan on making use of this as much as possible to help keep the heat out of the boat and also to let whoever is cooking enjoy themselves a bit more outside of the small kitchen. Refrigeration and freezer space will be limited, so have plenty of ingredients that you can store at room temperature as well like canned foods. Eat the most perishable foods early on in your trip like the meat and dairy. Since you will not want to cook while the boat is moving, it is usually best to prepare lunches in the morning before you set sail. Things like sandwiches, gran and go items, are best. Especially since people tend to be active during the day and may be hungry at different times. The key is keeping the recipes simple, do not plan a meal that needs to be cooked on 3 burners when you only have 2 on board.
Only cook when the boat is docked or anchored. Trying to cook, or boil water, on a moving boat is a dangerous task. Keep things put in away in the cabinets and sealed or closed if not in use to avoid any major spills while you are moving. In case there is a spill, you will want to have plenty of paper towels and trash bags handy. Another important thing to keep in mind, do not waste water as you do have a limited supply.
It is also a great to go ashore and try some of the local restaurants during your charter! Take a break from the galley kitchen once in a while and explore some of the local flavors.