Cooking aboard early in the season is exciting and fun—everything is fresh and a new adventure on the barbeque or stove. But, as you spend more time on the boat, you run out of new meal ideas and time to prepare a new dish. You may not have spent as much time planning the ingredients in your galley cupboards/locker to make an instant meal and you just say "Oh my goodness. What am I going to cook today?".
To help on those days when you just wish someone else would prepare an instant meal for you, I'd like to share a tip I use to make life easier in my galley.
Each time you make a meal dish (whether aboard or at home), make twice as much as you need. For example; if barbequing chicken breasts, legs or thighs, put on a few extras that you can use later as "planned overs" for a future meal of chicken salad, sandwiches or casserole. When baking potatoes, bake twice as many for a planned over potato salad or home fries. Even an extra burger can be added to a future salad or sauce and pancakes can easily be reheated.
Other examples of planned overs are stew, chili, soups, casseroles and spaghetti sauce. You will come up will lots of ideas yourself. It takes the same amount of time to cook twice as much and you use the same number of pots and time to cut vegetables etc. You just need more ingredients. After dinner, carefully store your planned overs in freezable containers. Quite often you can use freezer bags so they fit better in your frig or freezer.
Then, in a few days or later if you have them frozen, pull out your planned overs and put together another delicious meal quickly without all the preparation and cooking time. Just heat and serve!
I've found this works really well for us and I sometimes (depending on time and supplies) prepare three times what I need at home and freeze the rest. I store them in the freezer and can pick from my "planned overs" enough dishes to take to the boat. If we are travelling on the water, and there isn't room in the freezer, I keep them in the frig and use them sooner. Adding a salad or some other ingredients during preparation is change enough to have a different meal without all the preparation and work.
Put on your thinking cap and prepare what your family likes. You'll find there are many of your favourite recipes that can be doubled and frozen for later. Build up an inventory at home. You'll be so thankful when you can pull out a "planned over" to take to the boat, for those days, when you just don't feel like creating a meal from scratch.
The alternative is to order in, but that is not always a reasonable option on a boat. In some places, there isn't much variety and sometimes because of the remote location of a lot of marinas, it isn't an option at all.
It's nice to know you have something to draw on at the last minute. If you've got some great "planned over" ideas, please share by commenting below.
For more First Mate tips see First Mate 101.