Each summer, we try to do a two-week stretch on Mariah without resupply. It's not a macho test of will, just a yearning to get away from the world for as long as possible. Yet eating well is a priority.
Planning begins with a list of proteins that form the backbone of the menus. For the two of us over 13 nights, that could be two ribeye steaks, a pork tenderloin, four lamb chops, two hamburger patties, two chicken breasts, a can of crab meat, bacon, 10 large shrimp and four whitefish fillets.
Then the strategy begins: The steaks, pork and chicken each provide two meals (six nights), so I keep them from being back-to-back dinners. We may eat half of the tenderloin on Wednesday, then the rest in quesadillas on Friday.
Produce gains admission by how much room it takes in the refrigerator, and how long it stays fresh — what I call the size-to-succulence ratio. Green beans are great, along with a bag of small multicolored peppers.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit how long it took me to realize that Lake Superior, with its brisk water temperature, means our hull doubles as a root cellar, so I stash apples, potatoes, onions, carrots, lemons and limes in a bin under the forward berth.
That leaves the refrigerator to hold cheeses, butter, yogurt, milk, eggs, bacon, vegetables and sandwich meats. Salads admittedly get short shrift, with a package of sturdy shredded cabbage for coleslaw for the first few meals. Tomatoes last well for a week in a cubby.
Granted, for the first few days, the boat is packed to the gills, making me pay extra attention to where something resides, so it can be returned to that exact same spot.
The meats and shrimp are vacuum-packed and frozen before we leave home. We pick up whitefish fillets in Cornucopia, Wis., about a half-hour from our marina, in packages of two each.
First item into the galley freezer is one of the whitefish packages, then I'll layer, squeeze and cajole the rest of the frozen goods to fit, topping it off with the remaining package of whitefish, which we'll eat that night.
The goal is to dine on 13 different meals over a trip. No, we don't have to do this.
But why not?