Provisioning: Freezer Storage on a Boat

Provision Storage

Yesterday we shared with you some tips for provisioning a sailboat. We shared our experiences provisioning when chartering a boat, and when living aboard our own sailboat; and you learned that the two processes are quite different.

Provisioning for canned goods and non-perishable items is easy, but stocking up on refrigerated and frozen items can sometimes be tricky. If you are live aboard sailors, like we are, then you probably find yourself provisioning for a cruising season or for mutli-day passages. You also probably know that fridge and freezer storage space is often minimal. We currently live on our Lagoon 380 catamaran and are fortunate enough to have a front loading refrigerator (came stock with the boat), as well as a top loading Engel freezer that we choose to add after buying the boat and making the decision to live aboard full time. Purchasing the Engel was one of the best things we did to prepare the boat to be lived on full time. Our fridge is great; it is quite large and can hold a lot of stuff, but there wasn’t a huge space (if any really) where you could keep frozen items. 

We needed additional freezer space and after some research we decided to go with the Engel, top loading portable fridge/freezer for a few reasons: 

1. It is relatively compact - we took careful measurements and bought the 43 quart fridge/freezer which fit nicely under our Nav station in the saloon. We choose this spot for accessibility and and the fact that there were d/c and a/c outlets close by. So we gave up a bit of leg space at the nav station, but it was worth it in the end to gain the freezer storage. 

2. it doesn’t require a large amount of power - the Engel fridge/ Freezer can run off D/C or A/C power, and draws very few amps (just 2.5 at 12V according to West Marine), so it is perfect for live aboards who primarily rely on solar power.

We purchased our Engel Fridge/Freezer from West Marine. For more information and specs on this product follow the link above (or below) to the West Marine website. Also remember if you are a West Marine rewards member, this purchase will rack up some points for your rewards account, which means money back to you in the end.

The Engel Fridge/ Freezer is available on Amazon.com as well. (If you are a prime member this may be the faster and cheaper option for you.)

Maximizing Freezer Space

Vacuum Sealing

Since we have the Engel freezer, when we provision I am able to plan and purchase enough frozen food to last us about a month (that is if we eat a meal with one frozen product each day). I manage to stock and store this many frozen items because I use a Ziplock Vacuum Sealer to repackage any frozen item that we buy. In order to maximize space its important to get rid of the bulky styrofoam or plastic packaging as it is a huge space eater. And not to mention, your food won’t keep as long in the store packaging! Additionally, I love the vacuum sealer because we are able to buy meats in bulk and then I simply portion things out and package enough for one meal for the two of us. This way we save money when buying in bulk, but nothing goes to waste, and freezer space is maximized. 

We recently went shopping in the Dominican Republic to provision for the upcoming sailing season and you wont believe what I was able to fit into our little Engel freezer. Stocked to the brim, our freezer is currently holding:

  • 2 portions of fish, frozen from a catch 

  • 5 portions of sausage

  • 8 portions of ground beef

  • 6 portions of chicken 

  • 4 portions of shrimp

  • 4 portions of beef

  • 1 package of bacon

  • 1 package of ballyhoo for Matt’s fishing

  • 5 packages of frozen strawberries (for my smoothies)

  • 1/2 a bag of ice cubes**

    ** we are able to make 2 trays of ice cubes in the freezer section of our refrigerator and then we move them over to the Engel so that we are able to make more and keep a little stock pile.**

I have to give Matt the credit for the purchase of the vacuum sealer; he is the one who had previous experience with vacuum sealing, and it was his idea to get one for the boat. Before we left we found a good place to store it and stocked up on the vacuum sealing bags and rolls in anticipation of not being able to find them many other places outside the states. Its a good thing we did too, because we haven’t seen them yet among our travels. Although it doesn’t get used often, having it really makes a difference in our provisioning efforts and our overall effort to stay on budget when it comes to food. 

This is the model that we currently have, works great and is small and easy to store.

This is the model that we currently have, works great and is small and easy to store.

You can grab yourself one of these from Amazon.com. There are many options out there, but we have this one made by ziplock.

There are also a variety of storage bags that work with it, but we prefer the rolls because then you can make your own custom bags. We have found that the ziplock brand works the best, but the Food Saver brand will also work. Here are a few options for purchasing rolls in bulk.

Ziplock:

Combo Pack - 3 Large Rolls (11”x16’), 2 Small Rolls (8“x20’) - $34.97

2- Pack- 2 Small Rolls (8”x20’) - $18.47

3- Pack - 3 Small Rolls (8”x20’) - $24.99

Food Saver:

Combo Pack - 3 Large Rolls (11”x16’), 2 Small Rolls (8“x20’) - $35.99

3- Pack - 3 Small Rolls (8”x20’) - $22.49


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