Galley recipes — or cooking in a small space…



When you live aboard a 36-foot sailboat, you don’t have a huge amount of space for anything, let alone preparing meals. Our entire galley is about 45 square feet. And in that space is everything we need to cook and clean up, plus a lot of food. Additional dry and canned food is stowed away beneath the settees in the salon.

One thing I love about living on a sailboat is that you pare down to just what you really need and everything has to have a place to live, so you can find it quickly and easily. Maybe I’ll do another post on storage…(I just wish I could follow this practice at home!)

Anyway, it is amazing what you can do in a small galley. There’s certainly no need to eat canned beans every day.

The main challenge is not having many burners to cook on. We do have a propane stove with two burners and an oven but we mainly use this when we’re at anchor and don’t have power.

When we’re at the dock, we can use shore power and take advantage of our one-burner induction hot plate, which I just adore. (Our friend Jim suggested this might work for us and I am eternally grateful.)

Why? Because the stove only heats the pot, which reduces excess heat in the galley; it heats extremely fast; and the temperature of the pot is easily and precisely controlled.

We also have a small microwave and a BBQ — cooking tools that supplement the hot plate and propane stove.

Our freezer and refrigerator are top-loading which saves energy and prevents the food from falling out when you’re underway. They are huge for a boat this size; in fact, I can’t reach all the way to the bottom.

I enjoy finding and experimenting with recipes that are tasty, filling and healthy and can be put together easily with the tools we have — and where clean up is not too time-consuming.

This Thai Red Curry recipe was inspired by the meal our friend Jane made for us on her boat on St. Simons Island. Jane was the one who gave us the tip about rice noodles not needing to be cooked, just softened in hot water. This saves a burner and allows the noodles to be ready when the curry is.

You can adjust the heat of this recipe to your liking; we like a little heat so I add extra red curry paste.  This has turned out to be one of our favorite recipes for the boat. It meets all our criteria and adds some variety to our diet.

Do you have any reliable one-pot meals that could be adapted for boat use? If so, I’d love to hear from you…

Thai Red Chicken Curry


  • 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Celery, onions and red pepper or other preferred veggies, chopped to make 2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • I was going to add fresh pineapple to the recipe but I forgot…


In a small bowl, whisk the coconut milk with the curry paste and fish sauce until combined. Heat a large skillet until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and heat until just smoking. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet in a single layer. Cook over high heat, turning once, until the chicken is browned but not cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour off the fat in the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the veggies and stir-fry over high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic, stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the chicken, red curry mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.


5 thoughts on “Galley recipes — or cooking in a small space…

  1. I concur, no need to live on canned beans while aboard! Thai curry is one of my staple meals on our boat, too. Haven’t tried pineapple in it but that sounds good. Sometimes when we’re cruising I’ll keep a “dinner log” to remind myself of what meals we’ve managed to cook up each evening – a surprising variety in a tiny workspace. The log is helpful in planning later trips, in terms of provisioning. Bon appetit!

    • I bet you have some great meals on the boat, Laurie. That’s a great idea of a dinner log — I think I will start one too. I forget from year to year the recipes we liked the best. This would help us be more organized. Thanks for the tip.

  2. wow, that is the one thing I always wonder about when people live on a boat like you’re doing. I’m amazed you have room for the meat, or enough meat. This sounds like an incredibly tasty meal — you’re obviously a very good cook.

  3. Hey! I know this is kind of off-topic but I needed to ask. Does managing a well-established blog such as yours take a large amount of work? I am completely new to writing a blog but I do write in my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!|

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