7 tips for sharing food with flatmates

Flatmates Team

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Eat good food, make sweet coin, live your best life and love your flatmates are the words to live by. But sometimes this fool-proof plan doesn’t fall into place when your flatmate finishes your ice cream and doesn’t chip in for the olive oil.

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Food can become a real sore point in some households, so before it ruins yours, we’re here with a complete guide to managing food with your flatmates.

The basics

Fair shake of the sauce bottle mate, unless it’s empty!

Firstly, almost 75% of our members live in share house to save money or because they can’t afford to live by themselves, so we get it, you’re on a budget. Some flatmates’ finances might not allow them to take part in certain aspects of your shared responsibilities, like chipping in for “communal” supplies.

Next, food can lead to problems with insects and rodents if it’s not stored correctly or the kitchen isn’t cleaned after cooking (so gross). No one wants a million roaches moving in (and believe us, if you don’t clean, they will!), so getting food storage and cleaning routines right can save you frustration — and pantry moths — down the track.

Finally, the bald truth: some foods can kill some people. Some foods are strictly forbidden in some cultures. It’s important to respect others’ allergies, as well as food preferences and practices, if you want to remain on good terms with your flatmates.

With those ground rules covered, let’s get to the tips for a happy communal kitchen in your share house.

1. Cut the fat

Set the right expectations about food from the beginning — and every time a new tenant joins the household. What you can and can’t eat, what you do and don’t share. Food issues are dealt with the same way as any share house issue - just chat it out.

2. Peanuts? It’s a no from me

Your flatmates’ allergies, cultural traditions and personal preferences may well influence some of the decisions you make as a group about food storage, sharing and hygiene.

Yeah your flatmate who is gluten-free one week and lactose-free the next is annoying, but downplaying or making fun of your flatmates’ food choices or needs isn’t exactly a fast-track to harmony in the home. Respect is key.

3. You get a shelf!

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Allocate every member a shelf of their own in the pantry and a communal space for your shared foods. Then, when someone comes home with a bag of apples off their mum’s tree that they want to share, they can put it there too. Don’t forget to include a shared space in the fridge for that leftover birthday cake too!

If you’re that weird flatmate that likes to keep food in their room, be extra careful with how it’s stored. Leaks and spills can stain carpet for life and badly stored food can see pests spreading throughout the house.

4. Shake ‘n’ bake

Some households have similar tastes and food traditions, so they might decide to make things like spices and condiments communal. People in other homes might have very different approaches to cooking and eating, so may share very little. It’s up to you!

If you do have shared items, make sure you agree on how they’ll be replaced. Does the person who finishes the ground chilli replace it the next time they do a shop? Or do you add that spice to a communal shopping list that someone volunteers to pick up each week?

5. No such thing as a free meal

How will all of this delish food be paid for? If you never seem to use the communal extra virgin olive oil, but you finish it making a salad, you might not be delighted by the cost of replacing the whole bottle yourself.

It might be better to have a communal shopping list and use an app like Beem It to split the cost among all flatmates. Alternatively, you could have a small cash piggy bank in the kitchen that everyone chips into that you can all use for buying these items.

6. Taco Tuesday!

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Nothing better than a night off cooking! Pick a night, make a roster for the chefs and get cooking (or get eating if it’s your night off). Pour a glass of wine, get your best gossip on and just catch up with your flatmates.

To make it fair on everyone, you might all want to agree on a budget that can’t be exceeded for a flatmate-family meal.

Golden Rules - if you cook you don’t clean up and if you cook, you get to eat the leftovers.

7. Breaking bread (and the rules)

If you’re fanging for a feed, it can be hard to keep your hands off your flatmate’s stuff. Sneakily slicing off some cheese or swiping a couple of tomatoes for a pasta is ok. Sometimes the h-anger hits and you can’t be bothered to head to the shops before you cook. It’s human nature.

The key is to replace that item you used a.s.a.p. Like, before your flatmate gets home. After all, they might have pasta in mind tonight too and they’ll be pretty peed off if you’ve nicked their key ingredients.

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Flatmates Team

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