With less than 4 weeks left to go I have been doing some inventory to see how our provisions are lasting. We did really well on planning some things and in others, I wish I had brought more. We ended up using more chewable dramamine for the kids than I had planned for. We still have some, but I started giving the older kids the regular, swallow, dramamine the last few rough days in southern Mexico.
We have plenty of wheat left for grinding and making bread. I spent the first 2 months on the boat, August and September tracking how much wheat we used, or how fast we went thru a bag and how many loaves it made, so I could figure out how much to bring for the next 7 months. Just before we left Florida I worried we would come up short and I found a LDS food storage center to sell me an extra bag. We still have 3 left to use, so we’ll have plenty still when we get back to the boat in the fall.
We also planned to use a mixture of frozen milk and powdered milk, knowing we couldn’t fit enough frozen milk in our freezer to last as long as we’d be gone. Milk is one of those items that is much more expensive out side the US. David reminds me that our government subsidizes the cost of milk so it is generally cheaper in the US then in other countries. Milk seemed rare in the coolers in Mexico; I always saw many brands in the baby dept, on the shelf, unrefridgerated, but there was never a large milk section in the fridge areas of the store. Here in Guatemala, it seems more common in the fridge sections, but is still a bit more than in the US, not by much, maybe $1 US more. Not knowing what we’d find, and from our experiences in the Bahamas, we just planned to use powdered milk. We definitely brought enough, but there won’t be much left after we head home. I still have 2 gallons left in the freezer, that I have been saving in case we ran out of powdered, so we’ll have to get those out and use up soon so we can empty the freezer before heading home.
Before we left MD, I had made over 30 freezer meals. Along the way I would add a few here and there by making double or triple of our favorites. Having my freezer stocked with meals rather than food has helped immensely. First off, I am more likely to keep a list of all the freezer meals I have, therefore I have a better idea of what exactly is in our freezer. Second, I know I have all the components of a meal, I don’t find myself thinking, I have ground beef, but do I have the other ingredients? I know I have all the components of those particular meals. And third, it allows me to do less cooking when the day gets away from me because we were at the beach till dinner time, or driving or docking the boat till dinner time, most of the cooking has been done I just need to finish the final steps once thawed. At this time I still have a dozen meals left, so now I know how many nights I have set meals for and how many nights I need to “figure” out what’s for dinner from the random ingredients we have on board.
The hardest part of provisioning I find is the trends. Sometimes we fly thru certain things, and other times it seems like we have way too much. Peanut butter and jam are some of those things. We weren’t going that fast thru it when we left MD, but then after we left the stores of Florida behind, it seemed like we started flying thru peanut butter and jam, and I felt I had to pay the much higher price in Mexico for a couple extra jars so we didn’t run out. Instant Oatmeal is another one of those trends my kids go thru. Sometimes we go months without anyone eating even 1 packet, and then for days on end it will be all they want. We ran out a week ago, but no worries, even in Guatemala I can use the internet to figure out how to make my own instant oatmeal, and even tastier than store bought of course. However I am using up my Oats. I use to alternate between all whole wheat bread, and an Oat Whole Wheat bread. A month ago I saw my diminishing supply of oats and stopped alternating, only making whole wheat bread now. So, oats is on my list of what I wish I had brought more of. Yummy oatmeal raisin cookies are my favorite, and I believe I have saved enough oats for one more batch over the next month—if only I have enough brown sugar, otherwise I‘ll have to sub in honey—something else we are getting a little low on.
I wish I had stocked more canned fruit and veggies. I brought some, not many, thinking that I would just restock with local fresh produce because that is what I would prefer to eat. But I didn’t take into account the lack of fresh produce in Belize. And when we left the US we didn’t plan to come to Guatemala. And while they have ample fresh produce here is Guatemala, I am still a little concerned about catching a bug from something we might buy. I still have some frozen fruits and veggies which we will use up over the next few weeks but I so much prefer using fresh. I wish I had filled some random hole in one of the kids rooms with cans, for just in case. Next time.
I worried I didn’t bring enough crackers or snacks for the kids, but we still have a couple boxes left. Matthew is a big cracker eater, so I didn’t want him to run out. Cereal is one thing we are close on. We will see how it works out, I think we will have enough, but it will be close. That was one of the items I thought I had enough of when we left MD, but in Florida I was worried we’d run out, so I bought a bunch before we left there. Seems to have been the right decision. Corn Flakes aren’t a bad price in Mexico or here in Guatemala, but I am pretty sure my kids won’t want corn flakes everyday. There’s always pancakes or eggs, but that requires me getting up and making them, and I am not much of an early riser unless I have to be. I prefer to let my kids eat cereal-because they can do it themselves. We call it promoting self reliance skills, but really—I am lazy and just want to lay in bed longer.
When the Despain’s came out to visit in December, Diane mentioned that she had started using powdered eggs for baking and said they worked well. When I went home in January I brought back a can that I had in my food storage—it was time to rotate it anyway. They do work well, and that has been a great idea! We usually fly thru eggs, and while they haven’t been hard to find, they were a little pricey in Belize. David and I eat eggs most mornings for Breakfast—cereal is just way too many calories for me-even the supposedly “healthy” cereal. So we go thru them quite quickly splitting 3 eggs everyday, that is almost 2 dozen in a week. Add in any kind of cooking/baking with eggs and it’s a lot of eggs. I haven’t tried powdered eggs for breakfast, not really interested in that, but I do use the powdered eggs for all kinds of baking-pancakes, cookies, cake, sweet bread dough, whatever. I have been very happy with the results and we don’t notice a difference at all.
Another great idea Diane talked me into was buying an electric pressure cooker. I had been debating it for a few months, and after she came to visit she convinced me I needed to do it. I had switched to using only dried bean—way healthier for you and easier to store. Cooking them in the pressure cooker is a breeze and takes WAY less time. Plus I have a few meals I make at home in my stove top pressure cooker that I miss making. Country style ribs in the slow cooker is just not the same. So I bought an electric pressure cooker before we left Florida—I can use it when we are out at anchor easily. The stove only works with power at a dock or when the generator is on, but the plugs work all the time on the battery system. I use that pressure cooker 3 to 4 days a week. Whether I am only making rice in it, or a huge batch of beans for freezer meals, or putting in a meal dinner that night. It has been a great addition. I am going to have to replace my old stovetop one at home with the electric one as the set it and forget it option just makes it a little nicer. No more having to babysit the stove while it reaches pressure and adjust. And I can throw in my ingredients and completely occupy my time with other things till dinner time. Plus it all turns out yummier than my slow cooker and I don’t have to put the ingredients in hours before, 4 o’clock rolls around and in goes my meal; done by 5pm. Thanks Diane for making my life easier!