Depending on 'where you are' in your sailing career, food is very important. People can be discouraged and give up their cruising plans due to poor food management.
On a start-up boat: We've noticed a huge difference in what we could put up with when we were first sailing and young(-ish). Most first-time "cruisers" sail in temperate or semi-tropical climes. Traversay II had an ice box. This meant that we could have fish/chicken on Day 1, pork or beef on Day 2 and ham on Day 3 before the ice melted. All the other days on our way to Hawaii, we selected food from 3 bins. Bin 1 had tinned meat, Bin 2 had tinned veggies and Bin 3 had tinned fruit for dessert. Eggs (with Vaseline coating) would be broken in a bowl to check for freshness before use. Opened mayonnaise would last well as long as a fresh utensil was used each time. Fresh vegetables were confined to onions, potatoes, cabbage and turnip. Rice could be cooked in a mix of fresh/salt water. We tried to use the juice in the tinned veggies to cook with as well. I later found that some salamis will last well in the bilges as will certain large cheeses. We had about 100 gallons (400l) of water and we practiced water conservation. Naked bathing on deck whenever there was a tropical downpour, and salt water baths at all other times conserved our water. It was exciting to have a glass of ice water and a fresh salad when we got to Hawaii!
Fishing/hunting: Many of our best friends are good (and avid) fishermen - many are hunter-gatherers by avocation and some are followers of 60's guru Euell Gibbons who wrote the classic "Stalking the Blue-eyed Scallop". They learn from the locals about subsistence fishing in whichever locale they're in. Others learned to hunt as children (like our Norwegian friend Rune). The Norwegians we met in South Georgia were fishing from kayaks and lassoing and butchering reindeer. This not only bettered their diet but also helped the British eliminate an unwanted "introduced species". We ourselves find it's easiest to fish in our freezer.
If you're a vegetarian you can get by with much less. Sir Frances Chichester, the noted British sailor and aviator seemingly survived on a diet of beans. We are not by any means such ascetics. As we've become older and have a much better boat, we're able to provision well and give ourselves a more varied diet. As for the expense, we always buy the best food we can find. We found we actually saved money last summer in Norway which is reputed to be one of the most expensive sailing destinations. We cut down on drinking alcohol and seldom ate out. Of course, all the money we saved was quickly spent once we reached London. We expect to save money this summer also since our main expense seems to be diesel fuel. Today, I'm making a chickpea stew in the pressure cooker with *cumin, paprika and oregano*.
Now we're all alone here in this snowy, windswept spot. At 0600 we got a call from our friend and only neighbour Libellule that they were heading out to see how far they could get towards Tuktoyaktuk. They are going to be so kind as to call us and let us know about the conditions out there … we're really grateful for any help. Libellule is fully crewed with five adult males (some 20 or 30 years younger than us). We are not as sanguine about going off into huge leftover waves and headwinds of 20 knots. We're waiting until later in the day for the wind and waves to abate.
At 02/09/2013 15:57 (utc) our position was 69°49.25'N 122°42.21'W