“I live with two roommates and we all got our flaws we have to cope with. One of them just happens to get in the way of the small joy that is my food.
He ate my frozen pizza. We had a little talk. He ate my pudding. We had another talk. He ate some more stuff. I mark literally anything I buy as my own. Even the milk and cheese have my name on it. And it happened again.
So I stopped putting food in the fridge. It started small with only buying things for the day but that got rather irritating. So I got the old little fridge my parents stored in their basement and hid it in my room. Currently none of my food is in the “community fridge”. But I was still a little frustrated about my missing puddings.
So for the last 3 weeks or so I get up at 2:30 am and raid the community fridge. I almost empty the milk. I eat 2 of 3 puddings. I stuff myself with cheese and ham until there is just one slice left. Never using anything up but always leaving less than needed.”
If, like Reddit poster vajhar, you’re dealing with a ravenous roommate who happens to help themselves to your food all too often, we bet there are thousands of others out there who feel your (hunger) pain!
So, you’ve had the conversation and yet your milk, bread, cereal and sacred frozen pizzas are still going missing. What do you do? Short of eating eight bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios in one sitting, there are a few things you can do and say to protect your groceries and avoid a messy food fight.
When you get tired of finding your leftovers gone (and you’ll get tired pretty fast!), there are some proactive steps you can take to keep your food away from hands that help themselves. Assuming you’ve already spoken to the snack thief in question, you could try some of the following methods:
- Lock up your food. Grab a lockable mini fridge and keep all snacks, such as chips and chocolate, in a drawer in your bedroom. These items are prime targets, especially if a roommate comes home drunk and starving! For a more drastic measure, check out fridge lockers that are available online. As extreme as this might seem, it sends the correct “stay away” message and can add a little humor to the situation.
- Label your food. Grab a Sharpie and get creative, going beyond labels that just contain your name. Depending on the severity of the situation, scribble gentle messages like “Tomorrow’s lunch – please don’t eat!” or the slightly more assertive: “DO NOT TOUCH MY PAD THAI!”
- Mark your territory. No – don’t pee on your food. Once your roommate is in eyesight, grab a carton of milk or a bottle of juice and drink straight from the bottle. For added effect, cough or sneeze violently before you take a sip.
What can you say?
Feeling like you’ve already said and done all you can? Or just don’t have the energy to lock up your groceries every other day? We get it. While a roomi that takes the odd spoonful of coffee might not be an issue, if yours steals food all of the time, you’ve probably long had enough.
It’s time to have a talk.
Here are some conversation starters that might just work, so you can re-claim your rightful snacks:
“Hey Sophie, I know money has been tight lately, but I’d appreciate it if you’d ask before eating my leftovers. I’m happy to share but sometimes I’m running out of food for lunch.”
“Hey Rory, I noticed some of my food is going missing. I’m on a budget and I need those meals to last me a week. Can you please make sure you only eat your own food?”
“Hey Cal, I was thinking we should have separate shelves in the fridge/pantry. That way, we won’t get our food mixed up and accidentally eat each other’s. I know neither of us can afford to lose the groceries we buy!”
If you’ve tried all of that, we recommend making one last attempt to settle the food fight. Tell your roommate that, if things don’t improve, you’re going to report theft to your landlord or resident advisor. (You could even install hidden cameras in communal areas and let them know you have proof.) Otherwise, one of you is going to need to find a new roommate, because you shouldn’t have to suffer at the expense of an inconsiderate roommate.
Moving might be a last resort, but feeling comfortable and secure in your own home is so important. If you’re constantly feeling stressed, taken advantage of, and your budget is being eaten into, this could be a sign that it’s time to move. You could find that it’s a super positive move – and not just because your Doritos are always left alone!