The other day, I was reading a thread on Sailors and Cruisers Forums about how much it costs for food when cruising. As this has been a somewhat frequent topic of comments on our own blog, I read through most of the bazillion replies to the thread, coming to the ultimate conclusion that the tried and true advice that you will spend about as much as you did on shore, and eat pretty much the same way – if not the same things – holds true. I also realized that we eat really, really well: one of the sailors – evidently a single-hander – explained that he only spent $100 a month on food. When asked how on earth he did that, he said,
A typical day of eating for me is pretty simple. A 16oz cup of coffee (or sometimes tea), and small bowl of oatmeal with raisins and sugar, almost every morning… a banana for a mid-morning snack. A few handfulls of peanuts and an apple for lunch. Then a nice dinner of meats and veggies in some fashion. Yesterday I grilled a $5 ribeye and sauteed some fresh green beans, carrots, and challots… Tonight, since I won’t stop and buy meat again, I’ll probably have something like an egg/cheese sandwich, or maybe some rice and veggies stir-fry. On the days I don’t stop to buy meat (like today) dinner is completely random and usually turns out to be some of the best meals. This is when it’s time to get creative and come up with something new, or perfect an old recipe, etc…I’ll usually use a combination of canned goods, dried, and fresh produce to come up with something really good. It’s usually some type of stew, soup, or stir-fry. Or if I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll just make some tuna salad and have a sandwich.
FIRST OF ALL, damn. If I ate this way, I’d weigh 90 pounds. A handful of peanuts and an apple for lunch, after oatmeal??? I’d be STARVING.
Secondly, I don’t want to eat this way. I like food. I like interesting food, varied food. And while I make a big effort to buy what’s cheapest and healthiest and local, I don’t sacrifice variety and taste.
The Eastern Caribbean was very, very expensive for fairly limited food options on most islands (except the French, which were expensive but had all sorts of French goodies). As mentioned before, we generally only buy what’s cheap locally, and still ended up spending $500 a month on food.
In many places, there were no local veggies grown, so fresh vegetables were incredibly expensive. Everyone says that the Western Caribbean will be much, much cheaper – prices quoted on the forums are about 1/6 that of a veggie market in the E. Caribbean. So I’m looking forward to that.
Curacao, however, is weird. The Venezuelan “floating market” in town brings in fresh, unrefrigerated veggies, but it’s a 35-minute bus ride away. The nearby supermarket, which is a daily, FREE 10-minute bus ride away, has the best selection of food I’ve seen anywhere in the Caribbean so far, and it’s not expensive. Not at all. Not cheap, but cheaper than Washington, DC, in many cases. So I’ve gone a bit nuts in the past week or two, buying things I haven’t had in a year, like bagels, cream cheese and lox, because 1) they HAVE bagels and cream cheese and lox, and 2) the lox is about a buck for just enough to put on two bagels. NOM. Of course, eating well for us isn’t like eating well for some people – we’ve met people who tell us on great deals on shrimp (only $18 a pound!) and steak – not on our budget!
We also have relatively easy access to ice here, meaning that I can get fresh meat occasionally – a real treat these days.
Anyway, I thought I’d write down what I made for each meal for a week, just to illustrate how we eat when we’re eating WELL. Breakfasts are almost always homemade museli for Pip and eggs for me.
Lunch: Cabbage salad with onions, carrots, tinned ham and rye crackers
Dinner: Fried chicken with mashed potatoes and greens
L: Turkey and cranberry chutney on whole wheat
D: Homemade mac and cheese with broccoli
L: Refried bean “quesadillas” with salsa
D: Spagetti with red sauce with chorizo, anchovy paste, capers, broccoli, onions and green peppers
L: leftovers from night before
D: Split pea soup with carrots
L: Homemade hummus and cucumbers in pitas
D: Special dinner for guests. Apps: Breaded, fried dates stuffed with chorizo or cheese. Main: Lebanese-style stuffed potatoes with TVP, parsley, walnuts and garlic-yoghurt sauce
D: Mu-shu chicken in tortillas
L: Refried beans with crisped flour tortilla wedges, cabbage, sauted peppers and onions and salsa.
D: Pork chops, broccoli and boiled potatoes