Of all the values that college life teaches, sharing is a big one. Especially when it comes to food. And, more specifically, sharing the dorm or house refrigerator. It can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship or a source of constant misery.
As kids move into the dorms or a house near the campus this month, here are some pros and cons (from Debbie’s daughters, Sammy and Leah), followed by 12 tips on nudging things in the direction of a happy sharing.
- When you share a fridge with someone, you get to know what foods they like, which is the foundation of all good friendships;
- When you and your roommate are in the mood to cook something together, you end up combining random ingredients to make something EPIC (and cheesy);
- When you are living in the library because you are cramming for an O-chem exam, you don’t have any time to realize that your milk is expired. So your roommate becomes your real hero and throws it out for you;
- When your roommate starts becoming obsessed with one type of food (bacon, pickles, chia seeds, to name a few) you notice, and you can host an intervention that they’ll thank you for later;
- You can put up embarrassing pictures of each other on the fridge.. or motivational quotes;
- Roommates get to go grocery shopping together which is the best kind of shopping;
- You get to share condiments;
- If the fridge breaks, our landlord can fix it, and we don’t have to worry about getting a new one. (Said the 4th generation of Mrs.G’s).
- No one takes responsibility cleaning the fridge;
- No designated shelf space per roommate;
- “Free for all food;”
- Some roommates don’t know when to throw out food before it rots/smells;
- Overstuffing. Not everything needs to be refrigerated;
- You run out of beer space.
So how do you keep this partnership on the sunny side?
Here are 12 rules to follow:
1. Get refrigerator peacekeeping tools:
– Stackable containers with lids
Regularly replenish the supply;
2. Divide the shelves vertically so that everyone gets a section of each shelf. Mark the territories with tape;
3. Establish a rule that food put in the fridge needs to be covered to prevent smell and mold (use said containers). Label with name and date (use said tape and sharpie);
4. Share long-living staples like condiments. Keep them in in plain sight in the refrigerator’s door, so they don’t disappear in the back;
5. In the rare case that everybody eats everything, also share things like milk, juices, eggs, and butter;
6. Schedule “family dinners” using everything in the fridge (a way to bond). Invite the whole floor;
7. Keep more perishable food at the front of the fridge so it won’t get forgotten and rotten in the back;
8. Add cleaning up the fridge as a chore to your dorm’s rotating cleanup routine. With a mandate to throw out every suspicious-looking food;
9. If you brought club-size food or cooked large batches, put the food in small containers or ziplock that fit better and save space. Freeze stuff you won’t use right away;
10. Take turns cooking dinners. You only have to make dinner once or twice a week instead of every evening. It also works out cheaper. And you get to try foods you might not normally make for yourself;
11. Use freezer space. Leftovers can be put into a container and frozen. They may not taste as good as freshly made food but much better than rotten food;
12. Be a mensch. You have to live with your roommate so try to be a little more understanding in the fridge and in life.