5 Ways to Get Your Roommate to Stop Eating Your Food

I must confess that I have never had a problem with my roommates eating my food. Ever. (I’m knocking on wood as I write this) So, needless to say, I had little idea what to suggest. The only thing that comes to mind is to label everything and have each person have their own shelf. If that fails, give them food poisoning. The latter option seemed a little extreme, so I turned to my friends and asked them for some tried and true advice.

1. Psychoanalyze. Liz, the psychologist of the group and budding nurse, had to contend with this problem for her entire freshman year, and her roommate didn’t stop at the food. She “borrowed” everything, and it plagued their relationship. In her experience, these borrowing types have problems with boundaries, and therefore, you need to have a conversation to set some. It is best to have this conversation before you move in, but if that ship has sailed don’t be afraid to have it now. Make sure to explain to them what you’re okay with (i.e. something like: “I have no problem with you borrowing my food just as long as you ask first and replace what you took if necessary”) and what you’re not (taking whatever they like whenever they like) and make sure to ask them when you are done if they have similar concerns. That way it doesn’t look like you’re attacking or accusing them.

2. Go Label Crazy. If the conversation didn’t put a stop to the antics then its time to bust out the label maker. Label your food and create separate shelves in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. That way there can be no confusion about whose food is whose.

3. Get Inquisitive. The most recommended remedy was to start asking questions. For example, “I can’t find my [insert stolen thing]. Has anyone seen it?” Or, “Did my [insert stolen thing] fall on your shelf?” Another possibility is to ask them flat out, “Hey, when did you get your own [insert stolen thing]?

4. Gross ‘Em Out. Liz’s boyfriend, Nick, was kind enough suggest method(s) four. He says he makes it a point to let his roommates watch him lick the milk jug all over and cough on his other food. Typical guy—using the gross out method. He also said, “(you’ve) got to turn the laziness that drives them to steal food rather than get their own against them.” Translation: hide it! Put your food underneath less attractive food, hide it behind bigger things, or way in the back where they have to bend over more than slightly to get it. Or you could take Liz’s approach and put it in a box, underneath your bed, underneath a pile of dirty clothes and hope for the best. Can you see why they are dating?

5. (Pad) Lock It Down. If you can do this, buy or rent a mini fridge and put it in your room or buy a lock for the one you have. My friend Carolyn ended up having to do that after she had a guest literally eat her out of her apartment–repeatedly. This girl got would get totally stoned and eat all of her new groceries, including an entire package of cream cheese, in a single night. After that, my only suggestion is to give them some negative reinforcement and give them food poisoning. Just kidding!

Food Stealing

Emily is a recent grad of Colgate University, where she studied International Relations and Art History and volunteered at the Friendship Inn and with the Colgate Hunger Outreach Program. She loves to bake cookies.

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Originally posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

22 Responses to “5 Ways to Get Your Roommate to Stop Eating Your Food”

  1. Candy Dish: Campus Scoop : College Candy

    April 10th, 2011

    [...] How to get your roommate to stop eating your food [...]

  2. Will

    October 17th, 2011

    Go to: http://www.kenoplastics.com, they have a variety of Food/Beverage Locking Devices.

  3. EngineeringGuy

    March 4th, 2012

    There are multiple ways of preventing the mooching roommate from devouring your food. The simplest is to obtain your own mini-fridge and put a lock on it, as suggested. I, however, took a different approach with my roommate during my college days. Please note that my roommate did not confine himself to the kitchen, he “borrowed” shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and, well…everything. That is, he did this until I could no longer tolerate it.

    One Friday, after he had left campus to return home to his parent’s house for the weekend, I loaded the fridge with gag food. I made a salad topped with shredded soap for cheese, covered it with some Saran wrap, and put it in the fridge. I made a couple of sandwiches with soap slices for cheese and put them in there as well. I bought a half-gallon of some kind of chocolate ice cream that had fudge chunks in it, but I emptied the ice cream out of the carton and gave that to my girlfriend. I filled the carton back up with some store-brand chocolate ice cream that I put bits of roofing tar in and put that in the freezer. I baked some chocolate chip cookies with chocolate ex-lax for the chocolate chips and arranged them on a nice plate that I covered with some Saran wrap and left sitting on the counter. I ordered a Papa John’s pizza, ate half of it, and covered the other half with Bhut Jolokia chili peppers (had to order these).

    I filled an emptied 2-liter coke bottle with some kind of awful “dark” beer and put that in the fridge. I also put a pitcher of water in the fridge that was dyed with red food coloring and had a cup of salt added to it (looked like Kool-Aid). I blended a half cup of salt into the jar of peanut butter in the pantry, and I sugared the potato chips. I ruined a few other food items as well, but I can’t remember every food product that I tampered with.

    Anyway, when I was finished in the kitchen, I moved on to the bathroom. I squeezed the toothpaste out of the tube, mixed it with salt and some ground Bhut Jolokia chili peppers, and then re-loaded the tube using an over-sized syringe that I obtained from a nursing-student friend. I found a brand of shampoo that was clear and replaced the contents with Wesson oil. I loaded an empty lotion bottle with some creamy vegetable shorting (from the restaurant that I worked at). I filled an empty Visine bottle with soapy water (he was a stoner), and I pushed a needle through the condom packs that I kept in MY room.

    Now, this was kind of expensive to do, but I could not take the mooching any longer. This had gone on for almost a year, and it persisted in spite of multiple discussions regarding the fact that he needed to chip in if he wanted to consume my groceries and use my toiletries. Please note that every product that I tampered with was mine AND had MY name on it (except the condoms as they were in my nightstand). Every food item had a small sticky with my name on it, or my name was written on it with a Sharpie. This was always the case, but not really necessary since he never bought anything. The bottom line was that I was tired of supporting this guy, and payback was waiting for him on the following Monday.

    Monday came and he returned in time for his afternoon class schedule. While I watched, he Zip-locked up two of the cookies and a slice of the pizza, stuffed the food into his backpack, and ran out the door. I was overflowing with smug. I had no classes that day and could not wait until he returned. While he was gone I decided to hide all of the toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, and coffee filters in my car trunk. At six PM he came busting through the door and ran straight for the bathroom. He yelled from behind the door, “Dude, that pizza was the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten; I thought I was going to die after one bite! It has my stomach tore up!” I yelled back, “Well, how were the cookies?” “Awesome,” he replied.

    After a few minutes he yelled, “Dude, where is the toilet paper?” I informed him that “we ran out.” He wanted to know if I could “pass him some paper towels.” “Out of those too,” I replied. “Any Kleenex?” “No, sorry…someone needs to go to the store I guess.”

    In true college guy fashion, he jumped into the shower to wash himself off. While in there he decided to take a full shower. When he finally came out he asked, “Dude, what kind of shampoo are you using?” I looked at him and said, “Mine.” That was when he knew something was wrong. He sat on the couch, with his flat and crazy-looking hair, and watched television with me for a while. Then he went into the kitchen and helped himself to another cookie. After a while he decided to eat one of my sandwiches. After the first bite he yelled, “What in the hell are you trying to do here?” I looked at him in a frank and serious way and asked, “What do you mean?” He slammed the sandwich onto the counter and said, “Dude, this sandwich has soap or something on it!” I told him, “Frank, that is a special cheese that my mother makes, I like it, that is why I put it on my sandwich. If you don’t like it, don’t eat my sandwich.”

    Now he was mad. Steaming in fact. He said, “look, I’m starving, I’m going to eat this salad in here.” Same thing as with the sandwich, “Dude! This has that crappy soapy cheese on it too???” I told him, “Frank, why are you complaining about my food?”

    Frank pulled the freezer door open so hard I thought it would break off. He saw the ice cream but passed on it and went to the pantry. After surveying the contents he made himself a peanut butter sandwich with some potato chips on the side and poured himself a glass of “Kool Aid” to go with it. Let’s put it this way, after tasting everything on his plate and taking a swig of the “Kool-Aid,” Frank got the message.

    He looked at me and said, “clearly you don’t want me here!” I told him, “yes, I want you here, but I want you to stop mooching my stuff. Buy your own groceries, buy your own shampoo, I’m not your mom, it is not my place to support you.”

    Then, the Ex-Lax kicked in again and Frank ran off to the bathroom again. He yelled, “You have got to get me some toilet paper!” I said, “Uh, no, I don’t….” He was groaning, there was splattering, and he was pleading, “PLEASE, PLEASE!” I said, “Okay Frank, I’ll go to the store and get some, I’ll be right back.” I went next door and played video games for about half an hour, went to my trunk, got one roll of TP, and passed it to Frank, who was surprisingly still topping the toilet. He eventually emerged from the toilet and said, “Let me guess, the cookies were made with Ex-Lax?” I smiled and said, “I like them that way, it keeps me regular.”

    Frank stormed off to his room for about an hour and I could hear him talking on the phone (later I found out he was talking to his dad). Eventually he came out of his room and went out the door. Through the glass doors leading out to the balcony I could see him pull away in his car. Two hours later he returned with a car load of groceries, toiletries, and other various consumables. From that day forward he was always willing to split the grocery bill. Too bad he had to eat soap, Ex-lax, Ghost chilies, sugar chips, salty-peanut butter, drink Krap-Aid, wash his hair with vegetable oil, and end up on the pot without toilet paper in order to learn his lesson. Actually, I was a bit disappointed that he never got around to the toothpaste, ice cream, and condoms!

    Frank and I lived together all throughout college, and the expense I put forth to teach Frank his lesson was worth every penny since it started him down the road to contributing his fair share.

    Don’t put up with mooching roommates, put them in their place. Some people just never seem themselves for who they really are until force them to do so. However, I will concede that there was the slight possibility that Frank could have went crazy and killed me in the middle of the night, so whatever you do, you assume the risk associate with doing it. In fact, I recommend that you never do anything that I have mentioned here. Ever.

  4. Anon

    March 18th, 2012

    ^You, sir, are a genius.

  5. Laughing

    May 6th, 2012

    ^^ That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  6. Emily

    November 23rd, 2012

    Dear EngineeringGuy, didn’t read, fuck you.

    -Emily

  7. YO EMILY

    January 4th, 2013

    You should have read it. Your article was terrible by comparison.

  8. Claire

    February 10th, 2013

    You must be an only child.

  9. Al

    April 7th, 2013

    I hear you I have this girl living as our roommate. whats so disturbing is that she just comes in open the refrigerator and pour OJ from hte bottle (she only does this when its opened by us) then drink it and wash it so We cant see it( all though we know she does drink them not careful enough to wash clean so OJ reside leaves on glass!!) in any case she says ” ohh I will buy next one i will get you some… Ohhhh I wil od this…) NEVER DOES its been 6 month. Poeple say whats teh big deal right? yes its big deal if you have to walk 15 min to grocery and buy this heavy OJ then someone else snatches it like this. so I let her slide becuase I find pathetic. Whats distrubing more is htat she knows she is doing it .if she eats other peoples foood when she orders food its nice to ask people if you want to order something or i am ordering something would you like some. she orders small enough to eat her own and takes to her room (WITH MY OJ!) often she does this quickly so I do nt catch her. I am about to confront today. She opens the pantry cabinet she knows whats stocked . See these poeple have no clue as what belongs to other people. They need to have their fingers cut off!

  10. College Focus

    May 10th, 2013

    I completely understand the mooching roommate! My roommate freshman year was always going and buying expensive clothes and electronics but she ALWAYS mooched off of my food. After a while I started storing my food in my boyfriends dorm since I spent more time there anyways.
    And I loved EngineeringGuy’s story!!!

  11. Emza

    May 26th, 2013

    my roommate also does the same, she use all her money on expensive clothing and then she buys grocery that will last her for only one week then she start eating my food and borrow my stuff like washing soaps, she even borrow my money and doesn’t pay me back, she keeps on making excuses telling me that her mom haven’t sent her money yet. now i’ve started hiding my money because i know shes gonna come borrow it, i can’t even spend my own money because im always hiding it, i also hide some of my food because she keeps eating them. im tired of living like this, i think im gonna move out and get a new roommate

  12. Lu

    May 29th, 2013

    My shifted with my best friend about 4 months ago….. And now iam repenting that I shouldn’t have… She borrows my stuff even though she has enough…. Does not share for the food expenses… Has borrowed money from me months back but has no plans of returning it fully…. Does not want the responsibility of cooking or cleaning the house!!!!!!!! And I don’t know what I should be doing….

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  14. Lumpy

    July 21st, 2013

    Is comment #6 from the Emily that runs this site? If so, jelly much that a commentor can write a better post then you? And as a stoner that knows a lot of stoners, eating an entire brick of cream cheese amoung other things in one night sounds more like a binge eating disorder.

  15. The Study Break: Post-College Edition | TalkNerdy2Me TM

    August 31st, 2013

    [...] what? When you graduate you will still likely have roommates. Small Kitchen College offers “5 Ways to Get Your Roommate to Stop Eating Your Food” that can help grads [...]

  16. Fads

    September 1st, 2013

    Thank you EngineeringGuy – that’s one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while.

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    October 23rd, 2013

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    December 28th, 2013

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  20. this guy

    January 2nd, 2014

    Emily. you’re essay was terribad. like playing against a level 2 nasus as teemo terribad. I fell asleep after the first sentence. woke up for the second, and was back asleep by the third. You should consider writing stories. for old, terminally ill patients. Might help ease the pain. Or, more realistically, might give them the self loath they need to finally let go. Anyway, Engingeering guy, you the man.

    this guy, out.

  21. LittleShopforMonsters

    February 6th, 2014

    Get your roomie a box from MonsterCrave.com.
    It’s loaded with good snacks!
    http://www.monstercrave.com

  22. I hate moochers

    February 17th, 2014

    EngineeringGuy,

    I agree with Anon, you are a genius! Your roommate deserved what you did. Although, you were lucky that he didn’t go crazy on you.

    One more thing. The pin pricks in the condoms was not a good idea at all. Do you really want this guy to produce baby?

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