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I lived on a 42-foot sailboat for over a year. Here's what it's really like to prepare and cook meals on board.

Casey Hawkins   

I lived on a 42-foot sailboat for over a year. Here's what it's really like to prepare and cook meals on board.

Before I moved onto a 42-foot sailboat with my partner, cooking dinner meant pulling out one or more of my many large kitchen appliances.

But on board, I had to make do with a single pot and pan.

In such tight quarters, I had to be extra mindful of what ingredients I needed for my planned meal, plus how I'd store and prepare them.

I often considered how much food we could keep on board

Our spice cabinet only had room for about 15 bottles.

I didn't think this would be a problem, but it was much harder to narrow down my collection than I thought, as I like diversity in my meals. In the end, I tossed spices that I'd only use in one recipe.

We kept our food cool in a mini fridge that we had to strap down with rope so it didn't topple over or open while sailing.

It didn't have a lot of space, so when I grocery shopped, I was mindful of how many refrigerated foods I bought.

When we stayed at a dock, it was easy to run to the grocery store every day or two to pick up cold items. But when we were traveling, we'd go weeks without visiting a shop and only have as much as we could carry, so we relied on shelf-stable foods for a lot of our meals.

I cooked with minimal kitchen appliances

When we originally moved on board, I brought my Instant Pot — I figured it was useful enough to justify the space. We got rid of it after three months since it was so bulky and took up too much power. I had only used it two times, anyway.

I mostly cooked using an alcohol-burner stovetop in either a pot or pan. I only had one of each, so I either had to prepare a single item at a time or make everything together.

When making one item at a time, I considered the best order to cook each component and kept the finished foods warm while I completed the rest of the meal.

That said, I usually cooked my meals in a single pan since this took less time and coordination.

Grilling was a simple way to add variety to meals

Grilling meats and vegetables was another easy way we cooked meals.

My propane grill hung off the side of the boat. It was small and out of the way, which made it perfect for tiny living.

Sometimes cooking on board could be warm and uncomfortable. But the grill didn't heat the boat, which was a huge perk, especially in hotter climates.

I sometimes missed my fully stocked kitchen, but simplicity had its perks

There were lots of days I daydreamed about my air fryer. And sometimes, I had to adapt a recipe or rule it out because I didn't have access to the ingredients or cooking supplies.

But having less in my kitchen had its perks. Since I only made simple, easy meals, cooking was less stressful.




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