Cooking on a Boat: How to Cook Aboard a Yacht

After so many years working in the leisure nautical sector, we noticed that one primary concern regards what to eat on a boat and how is it cooking on a boat. Other frequently asked questions are: what food should I bring? How is it a galley? What meals should I prepare?

Especially if you’re about to experience your first sailing adventure, these are more than fair questions! Nonetheless, although you’re a master of sailing, certainly some new tips more can be useful for your next yacht charter. In this article will give some practical information either for neophytes and experts in order to be prepared on what to expect, how to manage the galley and on how to cook on a boat.

We know that while on holidays cooking is your last desire, but the food is a great source of pleasure and with these effective tips cooking onboard will be fun!

The galley: equipment and appliances

galley of a boat with a salon

The kitchen of a boat (called “galley” in nautical terms) is not so different from your home’s kitchen. The main distinction is the size. Space is much more limited, and the appliances are consequently smaller. The appliances and the equipment are more or less standard for all charter boats (of course, a whole other matter is a galley of a luxury yacht). The equipment always includes pans, cutlery, dishes, glasses, mugs, and bowls. As for the appliances, you will always find a stove with 2/4 burners, a refrigerator, a freezer, an oven, the sink, cabinets for provisioning, trashcans, just as at home, but smaller, thus you need to use (or develop) good skills of space management.

However, don’t expect to find all the tools that you have at home like microwave, ice-maker, blenders or mixers. If you need anything special such as for example a can or a bottle opener, you can bring it, or at worst, you can buy it before embarking, but pack the bare essentials after checking with your agent what is missing and what you need.

One important thing to remember is that a boat moves even when docked, thus you find yourself cooking while the boat is heeling over. Even if most yachts today have a gimbaled stove that stays horizontal while sailing, pay attention anyway! Also, try to avoid any sharp knife while the boat is moving as they can fall and hurt someone. Use non-slip mats or damp tea-towels to stop plates from sliding when you use or store them!

Tips and suggestions: organisation is the key

Space management

As we said, wise space management is crucial for cooking as quickly as possible and keeping clean. It would be better to do the dishes as you cook and not to leave the cleaning of the whole kitchen for the last. It can turn out to be as if a bomb exploded and you wouldn’t even know where to start when it comes to tidy up! Also, sinks are smaller, so they don’t hold too much.

When cooking, get all the ingredients out of the fridge, all together or in batches. Pack everything that is left and organise the items in the refrigerator according to what you’ll be using first. Use containers and arrange them in a way that they remain visible and easy to take.

Provisioning organisation

As for space, also provisioning has to be planned and done wisely. There are no restrictions on what you can buy, but it’s better to make a list and write it down. However, before going to the store, it’s even better to check how much space you have to stow supplies, especially for the items that need to be put in the refrigerator. And that goes for alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks too as storage is limited in a boat’s galley. 

To not waste food or o to not create a mess in the cabinets, you should buy food according to the number of guests, estimating how much food they eat every day. Furthermore, try to organise how you will use it. That is to say, if you have some perishable items that are going to spoil quickly, try to use them first, instead of longer-lasting ones that can be used later.

Also, you should foresee the amount according to the route. If you know that you will be covering many nautical miles or overnight in some secluded bay, you should consider that you can’t take the dinghy ashore and go to purchase supplies so easily.

What to buy: basic grocery shopping list 

vegetables displayed in a local market

Know that you will always be moving, burning calories, so hunger normally tends to be higher than usual. So yes, you will have to cook at some point, especially if the first restaurant is miles away. Thus, here you have a brief list of some tasty and healthy food to buy to keep your meals simple, but yummy!

  • For breakfast buy some coffee, tea, milk, cereals, bagels, cookies, eggs, ham, butter, jam, and bread;
  • Typically lunch is much simpler and quicker than dinner, thus you can prepare some salads, sandwiches, or pasta, or why not, some macaroni salad! The best would be to go to a typical local market for some fresh vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, potatoes, etc.
  • Usually, dinners are a bit more elaborate; you can take the opportunity to buy some local fish or seafood, mincemeat or some steaks, rice, canned tomatoes and tuna, cheese and cold cuts.

You will also end up drinking more than usual. We recommend considering 1,5 / 2 litres of water per person, per day. Onboard you don’t have potable water, so you have to purchase it, and a lot. Together with the water, don’t forget some soda and other refreshing drink as well as alcoholic beverages, wine, and beer.

What about the spices and dressing? Usually, the yacht charter company provides basic ingredients such as salt, pepper, oil. However, if you want some different spices and sauces, you should buy them. 

Plan your meals and keep them simple

vegetable dishes on a table

The best thing to do is to write down your menus, thereby you will save time, ingredients, space, and money! We know that the last thing you want is to spend hours cooking or thinking about what to eat, but written menus are useful exactly for this purpose! Having a clear idea about your meals will also help you to incorporate leftovers and to not waste food.

To not spend too much time in the kitchen, keep the meals as simple and quick as possible, not too complicated or with many ingredients. In this case, frozen meals help a lot. Keep in mind that simple meals also help to save water and gas!


In a nutshell, cooking on a boat is not so different from you do at home. Of course, you need some more organisation skills due to limited space, but it can be fun, especially if someone helps you! Are you up for it?




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