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The other day I was pursuing through my refrigerator to find my yogurt, specifically the store brand greek yogurt because I like to buy the cheapest one.

Yogurt container

Yogurt container

Normally this process takes no more than a minute, but when you’re living with roommates who happen to be engineers, it takes a bit longer.

Let me explain.

I’m an engineer by degree and all my current roommates happen to be engineers. A stereotypical trait of an engineer is that every spending situation is a challenge in optimization. To translate this to one word, it would be: “frugal.”

That being said, my roommates and I tend to shop(not at the same time) at the same grocery stores and gravitate towards the same brands, which typically is the store brand. As you can see with a house full of engineers buying the same brands of the same food item complicates things in the refrigerator. There’ve been plenty of instances where there have been duplicate containers of yogurt and other foods items.

For example, when any of us buy yoghurt, this consists of Wellsely Farms from BJ’s wholesale Club, “Stop and Shop” from the local grocery story, or Great Value from Walmart.

As you can see when I’m searching the fridge for my particular yogurt, I have to make sure it’s really mine and not my roommates. What I typically do is remember which brand is mine and which shelf I last left it.

It’s a bit annoying to remember which shelve you put your yoghurt. So I’ve been contemplating labeling their food items with their name.

The reason for this obvious, but I kind of don’t want it to be like a hostel like environment. Then again the kitchen refrigerator is a communal place.

Has anyone started to label food items?

  • Eunice September 26, 2016, 6:47 pm

    I’ve rented rooms for almost 15 years. I’ve tried different approaches, but the considerations that determine which works best… vary, largely based on how household expenses are treated: Does the owner/manager pay utilities or are they split? If split, are there built-in inequities by merely dividing the utilities equally? (For example, if someone doesn’t watch/own a tv, is s/he charged for cable?)

    IOW, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option, and when roommies move in/out, the way you choose to manage the whole may need to be adapted to the new circumstances. That said…

    My favorite option — but the most expensive in terms of original outlay — is to supply each rented room with a student-size, high-efficiency refrigerator, holding the renters responsible for it’s proper care and having a sufficient deposit at all times to replace it if it has been mistreated. (Renters take the misused fridge with them upon moving out if it’s still functional.) Each room generates approximately the same cost in electricity, which is divided equally, so no one bears more cost than “their own” refrigerator.

    This approach also involves regular, but not scheduled, room checks — a good idea in any case — which in my state requires a 24 hour advance notice, in writing.

    I aim for something like three month intervals between inspections, so if ice is allowed to accumulate to an unreasonable degree in the freezer portion of the fridge there will likely be some sort of evidence of that situation. (For example, I provide highly absorbent towels, coolers & fans to be used when defrosting/cleaning fridges. If those are never called-on, I pay closer attention to other potential clues of poor refrigerator care.)

    I also remind people of their responsibilities when their leases are renewed (at the end of their originally-chosen lease periods), and have them again sign-off on those commitments. (All parties always have signed and dated copies of leases and renewals, in both printed and emailed formats.)

  • leo September 27, 2016, 1:20 am

    That can work if all are in the same page. .Another way to tackle it is by just simply subdividing your fridge to which compartment level belongs to who and this rule goes the same at the freezer. Assuming your fridge has this capability. I’ve been doing that for a great length of time and it’s worked perfectly. Anyone who happens to buy large tall drinks can simply put it in one of the ‘community’ door shelf that we have marked for tall drinks.

    • Tina September 28, 2016, 5:05 am

      I have found the specific shelves assigned to each renter (as well as pantry shelves) works well for the most part. My problem is everyone using my condiments and spices! Including soy sauce.
      Anything I have out on the table, or counters, paper towel dispenser…everyone seems to think its a free for all? I NEVER go into their cabinets but I notice my cabinet next to the stove is always moved around and oil, spices, sugar is used up faster than it should be. ugh! our rental agreements states that each should use their own food and respect others but mine mysteriously gets used.


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