Food is always an important part of packing for a boat trip, whether you will be gone for a day or a month. A good piece of advice to consider from our Boat Cooking Tips article is that one-pot meals work well when you are at sea. Whether you head out on a day trip or are out for a week, there are a number of easy recipes that can be prepped at home and simply assembled when you are ready for them at sea. Here are a few recipes that, whether you are on a fishing boat or a yacht, will ensure that your crew gets a tasty, nourishing meal without a lot of prep or cleanup time.

The Grill on the Boat

Not all boats have a galley, and you do not need one to make a great one-dish meal. One great alternative is a rail-secured grill.  These are charcoal or gas-fired and require an outside deck rail to operate safely.  Be certain to mount the grill tightly before use to keep a rogue wave or wake from tipping your meal over the side.   

Here are a few simple recipes that work well on a small, mounted grill:

Pot Roast Packets (serves 4):

  • Beef or lamb, any cut you like (even ground), ½ lb
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium or 4 potatoes, cubed 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Worcester sauce: ¼ cup
  • Onion soup mix: 1 packet
  • Pepper to taste

Pre-chop carrots, potatoes, and onions at home, place in a sealable bag, and bring with you on the trip in a cooler. Take the meat, chop, and divide into portions. Place each portion on its own piece of aluminum foil. Divide vegetables and add one portion to each foil. Mix ¼ cup of Worcester sauce to a packet of onion soup mix. Dribble the result onto all of the packets, and toss so it is spread evenly on all the ingredients. Add pepper to taste. Wrap each packet and place on grill. Cook at medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Depending on the size of your grill and your crowd, this can be done in installments. Unwrap onto a deep plate or a bowl and enjoy.

Stuffed Chicken Roll-Ups

This is an easy dish to tailor to any number of people, and can be prepared with a variety of fillings. All you need is a chicken breast per person, split to thin and hammered to widen. Spread the inside with your filling of choice, roll and secure with toothpicks, sprinkle with a bit of oil for lubrication and salt to taste, and grill. Here are some fun filling choices:

Italian: ½ cup mushrooms, ¼ cup parsley, and half an onion, chopped finely.

Apricot: ½ cup dried apricots, 1 tbsp. chopped thyme, 2 minced garlic cloves, thinly sliced Brie.

Asian: ¼ cup chopped water chestnuts, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, ½ cup shredded cabbage, 1 tsp shredded ginger, 2 minced garlic cloves.

The Stovetop on the Boat 

The next step up in culinary choices on a boat is a griddle top. This adds a wide range of soups and stews to the one-pot menu. Chilis and chowders are great options at sea, as are some standby favorites. Looking for something different? Here are a few tasty and filling choices:

Red Curry Lamb Stew (serves 6)

  • 1 lb lamb roast or chops, precooked and cubed
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 16 oz. chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Precook your lamb ahead of time, chop, and bring with you in a bag. When assembling soup, mince garlic and add to olive oil, cook in bottom of pan until golden. Toss lamb in the garlic until warm. Add all ingredients and cook until warm.

Salsa Verde Stew (serves 4)

  • 1 small precooked rotisserie chicken
  • 1 jar salsa verde, 12 oz.
  • 1 can cannellini beans, 15 oz.
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • Sour cream and tortilla chips for topping

Cook salsa verde on medium for 2 minutes. Add other ingredients, cook until warm. Garnish with sour cream and tortilla chips and serve.

Corn, Shrimp, and Fennel Stew (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 chopped leeks
  • 1 chopped fennel bulb 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 pound shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined
  • 1 package frozen corn, 10 oz.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon
  • bread, for serving (optional)

Cook the fennel and leeks in the butter in the bottom of your saucepan. Stir in the flour. Add clam juice, milk, and potatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and corn, cook until potatoes are soft, and corn and shrimp are warm. Stir in parsley and lemon juice just before serving. 

An Oven on the Boat

Boats with an oven have the opportunity to make a number of casseroles and lasagnas for their crew. To save time and cooking fuel on a boat, day trippers counting on a hot meal should consider precooking the casserole most of the way before you leave on your trip, so that it needs only be warmed. 

Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 precooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 box of your favorite corn bread mix (and all of the ingredients needed with it)
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 375. Mix corn, beans, chicken, and barbecue sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with cornbread batter, and cook until cornbread is fully baked through.

Buffet Foods for Boat Trips

Cold buffets are another option that also works well for a large group of people on a boat. This can be anything from a cold cut and sandwich platter, to a large pan of taco meat and a burrito bar, to a skillet on a grill and chopped meats and veggies for each person to make their own scrambled egg dish. Many items can be pre-prepared in a smorgasbord and brought out during mealtimes. The chopped vegetables and meats that are left over can often be added to another one-dish meal later in the day or the following day.

Considering Dietary Restrictions

Not everyone’s diet is the same. It is important to keep those considerations in mind when preparing food dishes for a group. If you are unfamiliar with dealing with dietary restrictions, then here are a few pointers:

  • Food Allergies and Intolerances: These are the most severe, and can be life threatening when not addressed. Before you plan your boating menu, take a poll on any allergies that your crew may have. Some can be worked around and removed from a dish, but others like gluten, beans, dairy, peanuts, or shellfish may require some rethinking on your menu.
  • Health Conditions: If someone is dealing with a health condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes, it is also important to provide healthy choices in regard to foods. For the diabetics, consider a high protein, low carbohydrate menu. For those battling high blood pressure, watch the salt. And do not forget the amount that is added to processed foods, and particularly to cured meats. 
  • Diets: These are probably the least severe of the three kinds of eating restrictions, but the more you can make a guest feel at home by giving them options within the range of their diet, the better your trip will go. This does not mean that you need to have everyone follow the diet, only that there is something for that person to eat at every meal. This means considering an alternative protein source for vegetarians and vegans, and possibly preparing two one-dish meals, one with meat and one without. If someone is following a diet you know little about, do not be afraid to ask what works. The Internet can also be a good source for easy recipes that follow a specific diet.

Additional Prep Tips

Before embarking on your trip, be certain that you have the fuel source necessary to have a hot grill. If you are renting a boat, ask before you go if the gas or charcoal will be provided, or if this is something you must bring. Familiarize yourself with the cook surface before you leave. Is the grill/stove/oven easy to start? Do you have a long-necked barbecue lighter handy for pilot lights? Are there additional shut-off valves inside cupboards? Be certain the units heat and your fuel is topped off before you leave.

Cooking on the Boat and the Weather

Cooking is not always easy on a sailboat while underway, and it is important to consider the motion of your boat when it comes both to cooking and trying to eat with a knife and fork. If you have a boat that rolls while in motion, you may want to save much of your cooking for times while you are at anchor. 

If conditions at sea get rough, it is important to remember that just because you have a certain meal planned for a certain day, does not mean that you cannot be flexible. Chopping and cooking in rough seas can be a recipe for danger. If unexpected weather tosses you around, have a simple, grab-and-eat backup meal to keep you safe, and save the chopping and hot stovetop liquids for calmer seas. If you must cook during foul weather, consider wearing your foul-weather gear to protect against hot liquid or grease burns.

Share Your Recipes 

Do you have a favorite meal to serve while out boating? Share your favorites with us on Facebook  or Instagram (use hashtag #GetMyBoat).