If you have ever lived with roommates, you have known the fear of having your food stolen. Living with a roommate stealing your food is a phenomenon many of us are familiar with. And chances are, you’ve found yourself here because it’s now gotten to a point that it’s started to bug you.

Let’s get one thing straight. A roommate stealing your food is no joke.

Consider the following experience a fellow reddit user had:

“I live with two roommates and we all got our flaws we have to cope with. One of them just happens to get in the way of the small joy that is my food.

He ate my frozen pizza. We had a little talk. He ate my pudding. We had another talk. He ate some more stuff. I mark literally anything I buy as my own. Even the milk and cheese have my name on it. And it happened again.

So I stopped putting food in the fridge. It started small with only buying things for the day but that got rather irritating. So I got the old little fridge my parents stored in their basement and hid it in my room. Currently none of my food is in the “community fridge”. But I was still a little frustrated about my missing puddings.

So for the last 3 weeks or so I get up at 2:30 am and raid the community fridge. I almost empty the milk. I eat 2 of 3 puddings. I stuff myself with cheese and ham until there is just one slice left. Never using anything up but always leaving less than needed.”

Say you’re dealing with a ravenous roommate. Like Reddit poster u/vajhar, who happens to help themselves to your food all too often. We bet there are thousands of others out there who feel your (hunger) pain!

So, you’ve had the conversation. And yet your milk, bread, cereal, and sacred frozen pizzas are still going missing.

What do you do? Short of eating eight bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios in one sitting, there are a few things you can do and say to protect your groceries and avoid a messy food fight.

Short-term fixes to roommates stealing your food

A roommate stealing food is bound to get anyone hot and bothered. And chances are you’ll get there pretty fast! When this happens, here are some proactive steps you can take to keep your food away from hands that help themselves.

Assuming you’ve already spoken to the snack thief in question, you could try some of the following methods:

Find alternative storage for your food. Lock it up if nothing works!

Grab a lockable mini-fridge and keep all snacks that have a high steal quotient, in a drawer in your bedroom. These items are prime targets, especially if a roommate comes home drunk and starving!

For a more drastic measure, check out fridge lockers that are available online. As extreme as this might seem, it sends the correct “stay away” message to all your roommates stealing your food. And can add a little humor to the situation.

Label your food.

Grab a Sharpie and get creative to protect your food from the roommate that’s stealing your food. Go beyond labels that just contain your name. Depending on the severity of the situation, scribble gentle messages like “Tomorrow’s lunch – please don’t eat!” or the slightly more assertive: “DO NOT TOUCH MY PAD THAI!”

Or our personal favorite: “Eating this Pad Thai makes you my mortal enemy.”

Mark your territory.

No – don’t pee on your food. Once your roommate is in eyesight, grab a carton of milk or a bottle of juice and drink straight from the bottle. For added effect, cough or sneeze violently before you take a sip.

This will be a good enough sign for any roommate that’s guilty of stealing your food.

What can you say to that roommate stealing your food?

Feeling like you’ve already said and done all you can? Or just don’t have the energy to lock up your groceries every other day? We get it.

A roommate that takes the odd spoonful of coffee might not be an issue. But if your roommate’s stealing food all of time, you’ve probably long had enough.

And it’s time to have a talk. 

Here are some conversation starters for that roommate stealing, so you can reclaim your rightful snacks: 

“Hey Sophie, I know money has been tight lately, but I’d appreciate it if you’d ask before eating my leftovers. I’m happy to share but sometimes I’m running out of food for lunch.”

“Hey Rory, I noticed some of my food is going missing. I’m on a budget and I need those meals to last me a week. Can you please make sure you only eat your own food?”

“Hey Cal, I was thinking we should have separate shelves in the fridge/pantry. That way, we won’t get our food mixed up and accidentally eat eachother’s. I know neither of us can afford to lose the groceries we buy!”

The final attempt in settling the food fight.

Tell your roommate that’s stealing your food that, if things don’t improve, you’re going to report the theft to your landlord or resident advisor. (You could even install hidden cameras in communal areas and let them know you have proof.)

Otherwise, one of you is going to need to find a new roommate, because you shouldn’t have to suffer at the expense of an inconsiderate roommate.

Sure this sounds extreme, and while we don’t recommend resorting to this until things get really bad, if you’re having to miss meals because your roommate is stealing your food, by all means, report them.

Moving might be a last resort, but feeling comfortable and secure in your own home is so important. If you’re constantly feeling stressed, taken advantage of, and your budget is being eaten into, this could be a sign that it’s time to move. You could find that it’s a super positive move – and not just because your Doritos are always left alone!

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers figure out the best possible solution to a roommate stealing their food? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!