Sunday, August 4, 2013


It must be provisioning time of year. Google Analytics tells me folks are landing here by typing "Bahamas Provisioning."

Thanks for stopping by! I haven't written about the mysteries of provisioning in a long time, so I thought I'd share the lessons of three years of provisioning on planet me.

FACT OR MYTH: There's food everywhere. You don't need to stock up. Well, of course, where there are people, there is food, but for me, this is a total myth. Here's why:
  1. There are no grocery stores on deserted islands. Having food buys me the freedom to loll for weeks on end on little islands with white sand beaches and turquoise water and no people.
  2. Yes, there's food, but when you find it, it will cost more. Provisioning is the only way to control your budget. You'll certainly need to buy some things, but I prefer to keep that to a minimum.
  3. Sometimes, there really is no food. In the Bahamas, groceries are delivered by the mailboat, which is notoriously unreliable. We made a 6-hour trip to Staniel Cay on mailboat day to buy some produce before tucking in for a storm front. No mailboat. I left with floppy celery and 5 oranges to last two weeks!
FACT OR MYTH: If you don't eat it on land, you won't eat it on a boat. Again, partially a myth for us.
  1. When we've gone two weeks without fresh produce, there are some lovely options in cans that I would otherwise never consume.
  2. On a sloppy passage, Chef Boyardee raviolis are easy and taste like fine dining. Strangely, on land, they make me feel pitiful and destitute -- and they taste horrible. ;-)
  3. When provisions are low, and we're feeling lazy, canned black beans or chick peas make the basis for a satisfying meal that doesn't seem like it came from a can.
  4. We discovered a delicious paella-in-a-box that I would now eat on land! (It's Vigo.)
  1. NIDO INSTANT MILK. You won't find it with American instant milk, but track it down. They sell it at most large grocery stores and at Walmart. It is whole milk (all American ones are nonfat), mixes easily and tastes surprisingly good. A large can will provide milk for weeks. Don't forget to get a securely closing carafe/container to mix it in.
  2. DRINK THE ALCOHOL THAT LOCALS DRINK. This is a great way to both put money into the local economy (an obligation, I feel, when visiting another country) and try things you might not ordinarily drink. And, if the locals drink it, it won't be expensive. However, if you can't live without cheap beer, take it with you.
  3. PROVISION THINGS WITH CRUNCH. When I'm running low on fresh produce, I crave crunch. Ways I've found to satisfy it: Canned french-fried onions (great as a topping or in a sandwich), water chestnuts, Pringles (again as a topping), croutons.
  4. SPROUT! SPROUT! SPROUT! You can grow your own greens for salad or stir-fry. You don't need anything fancy, just a plastic container with holes drilled in the lid. Buy your mung beans, sunflower seeds, etc. before you go. You won't believe how excited you'll be to eat your sprouts -- and it's fun to watch them grow.
  5. VIVA LE PRESSURE COOKER. We can eat for weeks from a tiny hatch full of dried beans and legumes, rice and quinoa. We can cook them in a short amount of time, not heat up the galley and not use a lot of propane.
  6. LEARN HOW TO MAKE TORTILLAS. They are SO easy to make and don't require the long, hot cooking time of bread.
  7. STOW A VARIETY OF SAUCES. Starches are quick and easy, but they need to be made palatable. There are lots of great pre-made sauces in jars and packets that turn noodles or rice into a yummy meal.
  8. MAKE YOGURT. It's just shockingly easy to make -- in a bowl. And you can use that instant milk! All you need is some plain yogurt to use as a starter. Here's an array of ways to do it.
  9. CURED MEAT. This is the best boat food -- ever. It is self-preserved, even after opening the package and doesn't require refrigeration. At the bottom end of this category is beef jerky and pepperoni sticks. At the upper end is fine, handmade charcuterie, like prosciutto and salami.
  10. IF YOU HAVE A FREEZER, USE IT WISELY. We are not die-hard meat eaters, but we enjoy it as a treat. This last season I froze some beautiful steaks and a couple of organic chickens (YAY pressure cooker). It was a wild treat to pull them out occasionally. A corned beef brisket made our month!
  11. INSTANT MASHED POTATOES ARE DELICIOUS. My sister told me this. I didn't believe her. She was right. They are shockingly good. 
  12. CHIPS AND CEREAL CAN TAKE UP A LOT OF ROOM. Pringles are compact -- but don't be tricked into thinking those cardboard tubes won't collapse or absorb water. Stow accordingly. I switched from boxed cereal to oatmeal -- cold 1-minute oats uncooked. It is very compact, much cheaper than Cheerios and is probably better for me!
  13. DON'T FORGET SUNDOWNERS. You can't have too many little app options for cockpit hoo hahs. Hearty crackers do much better than fragile ones. Olives are hard to find and, when found, are really expensive. The more creative you are, the less bored you get with your offerings. There is a season limit on cheese and cracker consumption. Some of our favorites: meatballs, artichokes/dip, hummus, kippered snacks on melba toast, cream cheese w/pepper jelly.

Don't worry. You won't starve, and if you do, you'll be in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Here's another of my posts about provisioning that lists some of the things easily found in the Bahamas: Bahamas list.


  1. Great tips! We also make tortillas, great way to kill time for kids too! I once paid $3 for a can of black olives that, in US, would have been .99¢ Ouch!

    1. Hey Jess! Do you have any provisioning posts? Put the links here!