You and your roommate share a living space, expenses, and a refrigerator. Make your lives easier by establishing some ground rules on food and how it’s stored.
Having a roommate has many advantages. You get to share rent, split the utilities, and enjoy good company.
But as many advantages there are to having a roommate, there are still disadvantages. Take sharing a fridge, for example. It’s not always easy splitting the space, let alone keeping it organized!
If your roomie isn’t that tidy, that makes it all the more challenging. That’s why you and your roommate should set some refrigerator ground rules.
Here are some rules to put in place so the fridge can stay clutter-free and fully functional.
1. Decide Whether You’re Sharing Groceries
First thing’s first, decide whether you’ll be buying groceries together or separately. You both should agree so there are no misunderstandings.
If you share food, figure out which foods you’ll split and keep track of them. One idea is to use a permanent marker to draw a star on top of the lid or container. That way, you’ll have a secret code and know what you’re sharing.
Say you both like different things but would like to save money. Then consider sharing items such as condiments. Condiments like ketchup last quite a while (unless someone has a fry obsession).
Plus, by sharing, you’ll create more room in the kitchen. The last thing you want is to have extra food everywhere in the kitchen.
2. Split the Fridge Space
It isn’t fair if one person uses up more space than the other. That’s why it’s smart to divvy up space in the fridge. If there are an even amount of shelves, you can split the room up that way. If there isn’t, either split the odd shelf or split the space down the middle.
Whatever way you decide to split the fridge, you’ll have to learn to work with the space you have.
When buying groceries, keep in mind how much food will fit in your half of the fridge.
Do your best not to take over your roommate’s side. Otherwise, there will be a refrigerator war that no one will win.
3. Be in Charge of Your Food
Each roommate should be in charge of their food. That means if you get the groceries, you both should put them away. And, your roommate should put away their food where they want it to go.
You may not care if you have to put away your roommate’s groceries. But if it becomes overly burdensome, talk to them about it.
There is also the issue of keeping food organized. If your roommate expects you to keep their food organized, then it can become a stressful situation.
Figure out a solution to keeping things tidy. That way, your kitchen and fridge will stay clean and manageable.
4. Make Sure to Always Cover Food
No one likes opening the fridge and smelling pizza from the night before. The same goes for strong-smelling leftovers like Indian food. Yikes!
Establish a rule that leftovers such as pizza must go in a baggie or container. Following through with this rule will ensure any food smells don’t take over the fridge.
Because if they do, you’re not going to be very fond of your roomie!
There’s another rule you should think about implementing. The rule is not allowing food to sit around in the fridge! Keep track of when you put it in there so that it won’t get moldy from hanging out in there forever.
To prevent that from happening, put a date on there so you’ll know when you put it in the fridge. Speaking of labels, below are a few other ways to use them to keep things organized.
5. Use Labels
Whenever there are leftovers, use labels, so you’ll know what’s inside the container. The same goes for other food that’s in containers, such as fruit.
When you’re short on time, you don’t want to have to rummage through everything. Putting a label on your food can make it easy to locate what you’re looking for.
Now, for food that’s obvious (such as yogurt), don’t worry about labeling it. But if you are trying to save on space and keep track of your food, adding a label is ideal.
Sometimes even labeled food can sneak over to your roommate’s side of the fridge. Adding your name can clear up whose food is whose. So think about putting your name on each label as well.
6. Create a Cleaning Plan
If you have a cleaning schedule, don’t forget to add cleaning the fridge to the list. (And if there isn’t a cleaning schedule, put one together!)
Regularly cleaning the fridge will keep things manageable. Some juice will inevitably get on the shelf, and a raspberry will get stuck somewhere.
So it’s smart to have a cleaning schedule so you’ll stay on top of it. You can take turns cleaning it or do it together. Decide ahead of time what the cleaning expectations are so the fridge will stay in tip-top shape!
7. Do Some Sharing
You may end up having leftovers sometimes or have some milk that you won’t be able to finish. Help one another out by sharing. Or at least let one another know what you’re willing to share.
After all, if there’s a giant cake you’re not going to be able to finish, that’s what your roomie is for! It doesn’t make sense to let tasty food go to waste. So share and enjoy the food together!
Now that you have an action plan in place — stick to it! It’s easy to let keeping a fridge organized and clean fall by the wayside. Don’t let that happen; otherwise, it’ll be a lot harder to clean it out later.
There’s always room for improvement, but applying these tips is an excellent place to start. You’ll be happy you came up with some rules now before the fridge looks like a battle zone!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Moscow to help them with their online marketing.