As a university student, I spent the last year clenching my fists and trying to resist the urge to scream at one of the six guys I lived with for stealing yet another of my pizzas and leaving me starving on a Sunday night when the shops were shut.
If I’ve learnt anything from my first year of shared housing, it’s this: the best way to avoid food theft is to make sure everyone agrees on a policy of how you are (or aren’t) going to share food.
Whether it’s the office fridge, or university cupboards, nothing starts a silent war like stolen food. So get it all out in the open in the beginning. That way there are no excuses for finishing off the foreign exchange student’s milk for the seventh day in a row, not replacing it, and getting furious when they take some of your cheese.
Here are 9 potential ways to avoid food theft in your household… (Take note my future house-mates)…
1. Share – and share everything.
With an open policy there shouldn’t be need for any complaints. It’ll help you out when you need milk for your cereal (or cereal for your bowl), just remember that it’s not a one-way buffet and your food will also be taken.
2. Don’t share at all.
Mark everything with your name in black felt tip and if you suspect anyone of stealing from you leave them a personal message. If you tell them you’ve urinated into the juice carton, they probably won’t risk it.
3. Have as much as you want, but not the last one.
Tell your house-mates they can help themselves as long as there’s some left for you. That way you will never come home to an empty cupboard – there will always be at least one of everything left. With a generous deal like that you will most likely never be out of milk.
4. Make a group effort.
Buy food together and then divide the cooking and cleaning – this can actually be a cheaper way to eat. Plus, it’s a good way to try new foods, use fresh ingredients before the use-by date and get out of the washing up every once in a while.
5. Have an I OWE YOU policy
Sharing is fine in emergencies. If it’s 10 minutes before a lecture and you need coffee, feel free to use some milk, but leave an I Owe You note and replace it as soon as the lecture ends.
6. Play Swapsies
If you’re having pasta for the fourth night in a row and your house-mate has had so many chips they are beginning to look like one, a swap makes perfect sense. Just make sure the other person actually wants to swap with you before you eat all of their chips and unleash their wrath.
7. Try Proportional Sharing
If there’s a pie to be split into slices, dictate who gets the biggest slice with proportion. For example,the person who can prove they love pie the most gets the biggest piece.
8. Create a Share Board
Whoever honours their I Owe You’s and is generous with their food gets gold stars. That way you’ll know who’s best to share with (and more importantly, who isn’t). Figure out some sort of reward system like whoever has the most gold stars at the end of the week gets a treat of their choosing.
9. You snooze, you lose
Simply, whoever eats it fastest, gets it. You might want a bucket near the table just in case anyone surpasses their limit.