Colleen from Washington, DC gives her tips for sharing a kitchen with a bunch of roommates. Our favorite, make your roommates take the dirty dishes to their room if they don’t want to wash them.
Sharing a kitchen will always be a challenge. Use these four tips to make shared kitchen living manageable and deal with these common issues:
1) Sharing food
My first roommate and I made the mistake of making a joint grocery list and splitting the bill. We quickly discovered we didn’t eat the same amount or kinds of food. Instead we created a cabinet of universal food (olive oil, spices, flour) and bought everything else ourselves.
2) Dealing with small spaces
My former roommates and I were avid cooks. Unfortunately our kitchen was as big as a mid-size bathroom. Inadequate cabinet, fridge, and counter space make creative storage necessary. We solved the problem by using a bookcase in a living room corner to store non-refrigerated goods. A mini-fridge next to the bookcase dealt with essential fridge spillovers.
3) Keeping the dishes under control
The easiest way to eliminate piles of dirty dishes is to simply have fewer dishes. Cut down your dishware by at least ¼ and put the extras in storage (or give old stuff away). It makes a difference.
When I lived with seven flatmates in Madrid, it was impossible to keep people accountable for washing dishes. Instead we instituted a system of requiring roommates to keep dirty dishes in their bedroom if they didn’t want to wash them right away.
4) Handling the fridge
Throw out old food. It doesn’t matter if it’s yours—if something is past the expiration or noticeably spoiled, toss it. Chances are your roommate forgot it was there and she won’t want to eat bad food.