Few things are scarier than a hangry roommate scouring the fridge for his last slice of Muenster cheese. (You know, the one you borrowed to top that gourmet burger you made for dinner?) After a long day at work, when a person is hungry and tired, it’s easy to forget that the contents of the refrigerator are shared. You don’t have to keep a Yeti cooler in your bedroom or post an ad for a fridge-friendly roommate, however, just to keep the peace. Follow these ground rules so that everyone stays as chill as the contents of the appliance.
Divide shelves equally.
If everyone has their own shelves, it’s easier to keep food separated. The chances of accidentally taking someone else’s eggs or other items are lessened this way.
Share items in the door.
You don’t need to keep multiple bottles of ketchup in the fridge so that everyone has their own. Instead, share condiments and other items typically kept in the door of the fridge and take turns replenishing them when needed. Be sure to keep a schedule somewhere so you don’t lose track of the rotation.
Make a cleaning schedule.
As long as you are making timetables, set one for cleaning as well. Everyone should be responsible for tossing their own expired products or food that resembles a science experiment on a monthly basis. Beyond that, take turns wiping down the shelves every few months.
Clean up big spills ASAP.
Whether your Tupperware leaded or something else spilled in the fridge, don’t leave it for someone else to clean up. Clean it up immediately, checking to make sure that none of it dripped onto your roommates’ shelves below.
Stash smelly foods in airtight containers.
No one wants to get hit with the smell of last night’s Chinese food when they open the door. Be sure to use airtight containers for all of your leftovers. An added bonus: you’ll maximize shelf space.
Share some of your meals.
Sometimes it’s nice to make a big pan of lasagna, but the mountain of leftovers it leaves isn’t as appetizing. Take turns cooking a big meal once in a while, then divvy up the leftovers so that they don’t go to waste.
Be generous with perishable foods.
If you know you won’t be able to eat that bunch of grapes before they go bad, offer to share them with your roommates. They just might return the favor next week!
Mark foods sparingly.
Marking every item that’s yours not only tedious, but it undermines trust among roommates. Still, there may be items that you want to mark so that they don’t get mixed up—if you purchase the same brand of sour cream, for instance.