If you've ever had roommates you know that sharing kitchen space comes with its challenges. Over the years I've had my own share of roommate experiences, both fantastic and totally infuriating.
If you've ever had roommates you'll totally be able to relate to this, and if you're about to move in with roommates for the first time, here are my five essential tips for sharing a kitchen with roommates.
At its best I had a great roommate (who is now a great friend) that also became a kitchen partner — we shared common foods like milk, butter and spices, equally shared kitchen expenses and cleaning duties; we baked together during the holidays and even hosted dinner parties and brunches.
My other experiences sharing a kitchen with roommates weren't so lovely. There were the roommates who ate my food, didn't contribute to shared kitchen expenses, like cleaning supplies, had an aversion to taking out the trash, and the roommate whose idea of washing dishes was simply rinsing them under lukewarm water.
In the best situations, here are the things that were most important.
1. Communicate regularly.
We've said it before, and I'll echo this sentiment a thousand times over - communication is key! This might just be the single most important tool to happily sharing a kitchen. Whether you've known your roommate for 10 years or 10 minutes, it's best to talk about your expectations and set some standards early on. And even when things are going swell, keep that dialogue going. It'll make life easier for the time when things aren't going so swell.
2. Create a cooking schedule.
You know the saying too many cooks in the kitchen? Well, you might just see it put into action when everyone is trying to cook dinner at the same time.
Trying to all cook at the same time can be tricky, especially if you have a tiny kitchen. Create a rotating cooking schedule so that everyone has ample kitchen time.
3. If you didn't buy it, don't eat it.
There are times when you have a truly awful day at work and all you want to do is come home and dive into those final few Oreos you've been saving for a time just like this. Too bad your roommate had a major sweet tooth craving, and helped herself to your last few cookies.
While you probably have good intentions to replace your roommate's food ASAP, it's best not to take it, especially if it means polishing off the last of the cookies or finishing the milk. It's always best to ask first, before diving in and helping yourself.
And, if there was one thing to be learned from watching The Real World, don't stick your spoon in someone else's peanut butter.
4. Wash your own dishes (with soap!).
You might not like washing dishes (who does?), but I can guarantee that your roommate will like seeing your pile of dirty dishes in the sink three days from now even less. Remember, your roommate is someone you share a home with, and they're not there to clean up after you. Washing your own dishes and cleaning up after yourself is key.
5. Hang a whiteboard in the kitchen.
This is such a smart and handy tool to have in the kitchen. Whether it's for jotting down a cleaning schedule for the week, noting that you're low on garbage bags, or letting your roommates your they're welcome to dive in to your fresh batch of banana muffins, it's an easy way to stay in touch.
Have you ever shared a kitchen with roommates? What are your best tips at making it work well?
(Image credits: Leela Cyd)