shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Fridgeless Meal Planning

June 22, 2015

I have written frequently about the tricks of living without refrigeration. Anyone who has considered this additional freedom while cruising has probably read that eggs and mayonnaise stay fresh for weeks, ketchup, jelly, and other "refrigerate after opening" condiments last for months if treated correctly, and sour cream and yogurt will not spoil for several days, even in 97 degrees. But I have recently realized that knowledge of the facts in theory does not prepare one for the reality of the practice. I thought I'd give a little practical meal planning advice for those considering making the switch or those who are currently struggling with their fridgeless lifestyle.

One way that we have seen cruisers change their lives when they go fridgeless is to tether themselves to a grocery store. They find an anchorage a short dinghy ride from shore where there is a grocery store nearby. These cruisers manage without a refrigerator because they simply let the grocery store keep their food refrigerated for them until they need it. Every afternoon they hike to the store to buy the necessary items to prepare dinner, and consider themselves "living without a fridge." Not only are they still tied to a fridge, but now it is one that doesn't even travel with them. A change in lifestyle is required in order to live without cold food, but that wasn't the change we had in mind.

Who wants to leave here to have to find a store?

With the "let the store be your fridge" option, you can no longer enjoy the best parts of cruising: the traveling, sailing to empty coves, swimming, snorkeling, and exploring remote, uninhabited areas. Not only do you have to turn off the fridge on your boat, you have to cut the tether that ties you to the store in order to experience the type of freedom that living fridgeless brings. The trick is change your eating habits when you turn off the fridge.

A good habit is to cook what you SHOULD rather than what you want. "What's for dinner tonight?" is not a question that requires creative input. Instead, it means "Look at what we have that needs to be eaten and decide what we can make with it." Last week's menu is a good example. We went to the store to buy a fillet of fish and some greens for salad. We added a baguette, some yogurt for breakfast, sour cream for future meals, and some avocados that were not quite ripe. Obviously, the fish had to be eaten that night: blackened fish fillet over a bed of greens with baguette. We ate all the fish, but for lunch the next day we still had some salad makings and baguette, so Dave made salade niçoise. To make that, however, he had to open a can of anchovies that we didn't eat all of. So, when deciding what to have for dinner, he limited his choices to a meal that required anchovies. Enter puttanesca. Lunch the next day was leftover pasta and the rest of the baguette. We didn't think, "What would I like for dinner?" but rather "What can I cook with anchovies?" Getting what you WANT for dinner is for the weekly (or every other week, depending on how much you are enjoying your remote anchorage) trips to the store. Every other night we eat what we have to before it goes bad. We throw away very little food, but only because we are creative.

A few days ago we had Thai for dinner. Leftovers were lunch the next day. We had extras mushrooms and broccoli left from Thai the night before that would not last much longer, so the following night we had General Tso's chicken (if you use your imagination and cook the mushrooms right, you can all it anything you want). Even after eating leftovers for lunch the next day we still had rice left, so Dave made rice pudding for dessert after dinner that night. We bought a giant bag of kale and included some in the Thai dinner, but a few days later it was starting to look like it would go bad soon, so dinner was beans and greens. We have put kale in frittattas, on our homemade pizzas, broiled them and eaten kale chips, sprinkled kale chips over pasta, and included it in any meal necessary to make sure none of it goes to waste. It's amazing how many places you can hide kale. When the avocados were ripe, we included them in our burritos (the sour cream was still fresh, four days after our trip to the store) for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day. The ripest avocado became salsa for our black bean soup the following dinner with leftovers for lunch, of course.

Living without a fridge may be a challenge, but it is also educational. We have discovered some of our favorite recipes from having to cook with one or two ingredients that would soon spoil. Having a bilge full of rice, beans, a few cans, spices, sprout seeds, and a comprehensive cookbook makes it easier, too. Don't exchange your dependence on a fridge for a reliance on a store. Instead, trade it all in for healthy, creative homecooked meals, wherever home may take you.

We seem to be on a 15-Year Replacement Plan on our boat. MONDAY we'll talk about coming to the point where your "new" stuff is suddenly old.

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