Roommate Stealing Food: How to Approach the Situation

in Roommates on by

One of the most frustrating situations you can encounter in your apartment is living with a roommate who is stealing your food. Not only does it affect the amount of food you have available and your financial situation, it places you in an awkward situation. If your roommate is stealing your food, here’s how you should approach the situation.

Assess the Situation

There are two kinds of roommate food thieves: the ones who only take a little bit and the ones who eat everything. Generally speaking, the ones who only take a little bit of your food every now and then aren’t too big of a problem. While it doesn’t make it right, only eating one of your cookies every now and again doesn’t have too big of an impact on your routine. On the other hand, living with a roommate who straight up consumes your groceries as if they’re his or her own is unacceptable. Before you devise a plan of action, figure out which of the two you’re dealing with.

Approach Your Roommate

In the case of the occasional thief, a simple conversation about the situation is enough. It’s best to bring the topic up close to the time it actually happened (i.e. don’t bring up the cookies he or she ate three months ago—focus on the present). Say that you noticed he or she had eaten some of your food and that you’d appreciate him or her asking first. Be nice in your approach. Intense confrontation or accusation never goes over well.

In the case of the 24-7 thief, it’s time for an intervention. Be nice in your approach, but firm. Let your roommate know that you’ve noticed most of your groceries are being consumed and that you don’t appreciate it. Bring up the fact that you work hard and spend your own money so that you can eat the things you want. It’s about respect—just as you wouldn’t want your roommate wearing your clothes or using your belongings without asking, you don’t want your food to be taken. Anything that is yours is off limits unless it was clearly indicated otherwise. If your roommate tries to deny it or gets defensive, say that you’re not angry, but don’t want it to happen again.

Take More Drastic Measures if Needed

If your roommate continues to steal your food after the talk, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands. It’s neither ideal nor fair, but you’ll want to consider looking up you food in your room. Especially in the case of snack foods like crackers and chips, keep them in a tightly sealed container locked in your closet or desk. For perishable foods or refrigerated foods, purchase a small refrigerator that you can lock up in your room.

Another solution is to shop day by day so that you only buy enough for the meals or foods you cook at any given time, leaving little stored for your roommate to steal. It’s a pain to have to modify your behaviors because of a disrespectful individual, but look at it as a short term solution until you move out or find a better roommate.

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Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

5 Responses to “Roommate Stealing Food: How to Approach the Situation”

  1. May 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm, TuckFhemOVER said:

    Find out what he likes and let him take all he likes…..just dont tell him its tainted. Piss in the milk or add some chicken slime in some leftovers and watch them get violently ill. Then when they are at the bottom, sick, smelling like the crusted $h!t on their AH, trying to sleep on the bathroom floor, remind them how these things can keep happening if they wish. Let them choose. Just today I spit several mouth fulls of spit in a container of milk belinging to a contact lense thief, and I have had some GNARLY head cold……here is to you ol pal!

    Reply

  2. October 23, 2011 at 1:21 am, Anonymous said:

    Your Roommate stole your contact lenses!? I don’t blame you for spitting in his milk!
    My roomate really creeps me out. I mean, Im freaked out he’s going to sneak into my room creepy, and he definitely has anger issues. So, how do I approach him taking my food? He ate all of my cheese, 3/4 a bag of chips, he’s been getting into my spices, and who knows what else. Im afraid that if I accuse him of taking my food, he’ll get defensive and angry. How do I approach him? If anyone has any advice, please share!! Thanks

    Reply

  3. January 19, 2012 at 12:39 am, Stephanie said:

    The roommate might have an eating disorder and may have trouble stopping herself. If this is the case, suggest that she seek professional treatment.

    Reply

  4. June 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm, Michelle said:

    Thank you for this article. Its the genuine advise i’ve been seeking after going through enough forums with silly solutions, like spiking food etc. Communication is always key. For me I don’t like confrontation, but I know a litte bit of an awkward conversation now will perhaps save me the misery of living in a situation where it becomes the norm. Thank you.

    Reply

  5. November 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm, lisa said:

    sorry but put a LOCK on your bedroom door – there is nothing that says you can’t lock your own bedroom door! Your not changing the locks on the apt. door so your landlord doesn’t have to know, but put your food in your room neatly store the ones that are able to stay good in room temp. When buying milk try to drink it from the carton and show your roommate that is how you drink milk or juice whatever….they won’t want to touch it.

    BY A LOCK FOR YOUR BEDROOM!

    Reply

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