How to keep the peace when sharing food with roommates

By Christen McGlynn

Sharing a house or apartment with multiple people can be difficult especially without throwing in other factors — particularly food. 

Living on campus for the first time can pose a variety of issues for roommates living with small refrigerator space. For all those Illini struggling with meal discrepancies, here are some tips from upperclassmen veterans:

Meredith Blanford, junior in LAS, is currently living with three other roommates. 

They share food on a regular basis, which she said she believes works best for the apartment’s dynamic. Blanford said it is easiest to buy items together that aren’t used very often such as oil, sugar and salt. 

Occasionally, she said, the roommates will take turns buying other food for meals, but that it is also extremely important to always ask a roommate before assuming they will allow you to eat some their food if a roommate is buying seperately. 

People can get territorial over food, Blanford said. So “don’t sacrifice your friendship over it.”

Sharing food isn’t for everyone though, and sometimes it is best to just keep to oneself. 

Anthony Sarros, senior in LAS, said he and his roommates avoid the issue of sharing food altogether.  

Living with three other guys can be difficult, especially when some roommates are unwilling to share anything. But Sarros said he believes it’s important to be nice without letting people walk all over you when it comes to food. 

However, there are those whom it does not seem to bother. 

Sam Lawrence, senior in LAS, says taking turns cooking helps the situation entirely. Also, Lawrence said the fact that he and his eight other roommates own three refrigerators helps considerably.

Lawrence said he enjoys switching off making meals with his roommates, as well as taking turns buying a variety of snacks and bread. 

These are items everyone can enjoy, but only for a limited time, he said, so it decreases the food bill when they all divide the cost. Lawrence said he lives among rather laid-back people and said many things don’t concern them regarding food.

“When there’s enough food around nobody really misses it, but label your stuff,” he said. 

If a roommate is concerned about keeping his food, his, Lawrence said he advises placing a label on it, which can help immensely to ensure no one will touch it.

Dan Zehe, senior in LAS, finds himself in the middle of both worlds. 

Due to the fact that he lives with 22 roommates, Zehe said trying to coordinate meals together is extremely difficult with everyone’s schedules.

Along with his roommates, Zehe devised a rule that each roommate is in charge of buying for himself, but the plan doesn’t always work out how they would like it to, Zehe said.

Living among so many people, he said, makes life a lot easier if everyone brings a miniature fridge to ensure space. He and his roommates try to make dinners together on some rare occasions. 

Zehe said he believes this is vital to the living situation dynamic because if meals together are not sporadic then “they won’t be special anymore.”

Christen can be reached at [email protected]