How to stop people stealing your food in Halls

Written by SMS guest blogger Chelsie.

So, you’re moving into your new flat as a Fresher. You don’t know what to expect, feeling every emotion a person can feel and are about to meet your new flatmates. Will it be love or hate? Enemies or BFF’s?

Whatever the case, these people probably WILL steal your food at some point, whether it's once or repeatedly.

wheres my food

You don’t want to appear stuck-up when it comes your food. Calling a house meeting while you’re still getting to know people can go either way, so it’s easiest to avoid this until you know your roomies better. A decent, honest, grown up flatmate will admit to taking your food, that’s when you can ask them not to, but for those sneaky few who don’t own up… here’s some dos and don’ts when it comes to protecting your stash.

DO allocate spaces amongst yourselves. If each person takes one cupboard and one shelf in the fridge (depending on the amount of space you have) then your food won’t start getting mixed up. It’s important to have your own space so that you can keep track on what you have, for shopping, re-stocking and to see what’s going missing.

DO label said cupboards. People will tend to remember where they put their own things, but forget after a day where everyone else said theirs was. No labels means the person doesn’t know who’s snacks their sticky fingers are taking, making it less of a deal to them. Knowing who the cupboard/fridge space belongs to will make them think twice.

DO label in detail. This tip is for if the problem is getting severe- milk half gone, empty cheese packet, only crumbs where your last piece of nana’s chocolate cake was… You need to up your post-it-note game. Offering more info such as the amount of food left and the date (e.g- John’s ham, 2 slices left, 21/09/2015 or drawing a line where the milk level is) will help show your flatmates that you’re serious about your food and you know that it’s being taken. This method avoids confrontation. If this doesn’t work then you can add some warnings like “keep off” but keep them light hearted, you don’t want to be threatening death or corporal punishment…

DO keep anything that doesn’t need to be in the fridge in your room (or maybe just your favourite snacks). If you’ve got some Pringles, and you LOVE Pringles, you want to keep them safe. Well, keep them in your room where you can keep a close eye on them! This is also advantageous because they’re closer in your room than they are in the kitchen. Why not live up to the “lazy” student stereotype? You deserve it!

DO purchase some thief deterring sandwich bags, if you want a private joke…with yourself. You put your food inside, and anyone snooping around your sandwich will think it’s mouldy and leave it in disgust, but you know it’s perfect. Seriously, check them out.

These do’s are light hearted and non-confrontational ways to deal with food thieves, but if the problem persists then maybe it’s time to call a flat meeting. You don’t need to be feeding other mouths on your student budget and you don’t want to be a pushover either. Getting everyone together and politely highlighting that your things are going missing will make everyone aware that it’s not okay and is affecting you. A mini-fridge is a last resort after that.

DON’T buy things that no one else likes, just to stop them eating it. This is a big tip on many uni blogs, and it’s not fair to you! You deserve the food that you like! There are so many alternatives, and you can always speak to your flatmates about the issue.

DON’T steal their food. Don’t stoop to that level!

DON’T call the police. This is a given. They don’t care about your missing chocolate éclair.

DON’T go crazy/make a scene. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of your flat mates, after all you have to live with them for a whole year. Maturity is key and even though it’s “just” food (it’s not just food but someone could argue that), it’s not worth creating a tense environment.

DON’T add laxatives to your food! Yes, it sounds hilarious! But you can’t just put pharmaceuticals in your food and expect the thief to stop. Chances are they’ll be pretty angry, then you’re in trouble! Oh, and it’s also kind of dangerous. AND you don’t want to accidentally eat your laxative filled food by mistake after you’ve forgotten about it. Hot sauce, however is potentially acceptable.

Obviously there are many things that you can do to stop your flatmate taking your food, and many things that you absolutely should not do! These tips are advisable for the beginning of the year but as time goes on and the mooching continues, your roomies need putting in their place. Consider the best course of action carefully though, and don’t do anything dangerous!

Read more from Chelsie over at her blog Grab the Flab or follow her on twitter.