More often than not, the first conflict between you and your roomies will be over a piece of equipment that neither of you own, but everyone uses at least three times a day: the fridge. How to share a fridge with roommates is a very big deal, so much so that you really need to get it right.

Few things get people as heated as food, and it’s only natural that the refrigerator (and by extension the pantry) will require some “by-laws” to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible for you and those living with you.

Break out the Markers

The easiest way to stop misplacing food (or find out who keeps leaving moldy leftovers in the side door) is to literally write your name on it. Avoid a “tag it or lose it” policy, since that’s just going to cause more problems than it solves. Another thing about markers is that you can mark the levels of whatever you’re eating or drinking. As you drink your gallon of milk you can mark the level where you leave it, to see if someone’s taking sips behind your back. (It might be best to do this without being seen, so you don’t get outfoxed).

SEE ALSO: Roommate Survival Guide

Divvy Up the Fridge

Segregate parts of the fridge for certain people. Example: one person gets the third shelf and second drawer, while another has the first drawer and most of the side door.

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Don’t be Afraid to Share a Refrigerator

Some things will be used by everyone in time. With things like condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard) or sauces and spices (ranch dressing, black pepper, steak seasoning) it makes far more sense to just take turns buying the biggest unit of each item, letting everyone use it until it’s gone. (Keep a chart so no one’s “memory” is fuzzy). When something is needed, the next person in line buys it.  That being said . . . 

Don’t Pool Grocery Money

It may be tempting to put all your money together, and have one person buy the food, but this runs face-first into two major problems. One: you’re never going to get what you’re craving. The person buying the groceries can’t read your mind, and if your mouth has been watering over mac and cheese, they won’t know it. Two: Everyone feels entitled to everything. “I bought it, so I deserve it.” That attitude is going to spread fast as soon as you get those new spicy Thai potato chips, and everyone decides they want a taste. Even if you write your name on something, your roomies’ knowing that part of their money went towards it makes taking it all the more tempting. In short, communism doesn’t work with groceries and roommates.

Hopefully these rules and ideas will alleviate any conflict you and your roommates run into, but the most important take-away is “use common courtesy.” A little give-and-take always helps with avoiding conflict and helps you keep your roommates.  

SEE ALSO: Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget