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16 tricks to stop people stealing your food

'Gah!! It's so annoying! Everything would be great if people just stopped stealing food...'. OK then, let's stop them.

People stealing your food is perhaps the single greatest problem with the otherwise peaceful and joyous practise that is communal living.

Often people do it as a spur of the moment thing, a drunken thing, an 'I'll genuinely replace it first thing tomorrow before they're even up and they won't even notice' thing. Good people that have gone temporarily a bit naughty.

For these cases a quick 'did anyone take my ......' and a polite adult to adult chat will clear things up. They're good people so they'll own up if asked.

If this person isn't owning up, becoming habitual, not engaging in the adult to adult thing, then they may not necessarily be a bad person. But they have developed a bad streak. This is where you start on our sixteen step programme, which gets more and more extreme as you progress through it.

Let's go deter some food thieves.

We're giving a £100 Nando's voucher to someone who 'likes' us on Facebook before the end of this month (November 2012).

1.) Label it

This is your first port of call. Putting your name on something flags up to the potential thief that it belongs to somebody - i.e. that it isn't an independent, owner-less, magical phenomenon that's suddenly appeared in the fridge.

2.) More extreme labelling

You can go further than just writing your name. You can put notes on your food with the date, time and amount e.g. '4 pieces left....'. Here, you're scaring the thief off by signalling high organisational and administrative competence. You're basically saying 'I'll notice'.

3.) Even more extreme labelling

This is even more direct. You can put a note on everything saying 'I've licked this'. Or simple state 'I'll notice, and I will punish you.' Though you might not want to get to direct threats just yet.

4.) Opaque containers

Basically putting your food in anything where it can't be seen - so the thief has to open the lid to see exactly what's there. Out of sight, out of mind - the thief tends to be a spontaneous, sensory driven animal whilst also lazy. Opening a box without proof of reward will often be a step too far for them effort-wise.

5.) Cupboard allocation with a lock

Agree on your cupboard, get a fat pad lock and the biggest chain you can find. The only problem with this system is if you lose your key, and it doesn't work for the fridge, so.....

6.) Buy a mini fridge for your room

This'll not only keep your food safe (especially if your room has a lock), but also enables easy access to a cool beer or cereal in bed at midnight.

7.) Get stuff that nobody else likes

My Mum discovered this tactic when I was about twelve and she's never looked back. I noticed a very specific shift in food buying policy and the frequency of my raids on the larder and fridge dropped overnight to nearly nothing. Even to this day, you'll only find plain crisps, grapefruit juice, 'Nice' biscuits and Battenberg cake in the house of Mrs Brann.

Clever old bird.

8.) Keep food that doesn't need to be in the fridge in your room

Eggs don't need to be in the fridge, neither do vegetables, or boxes of cereal. The main issue with this is - what a bloomin' hassle. Too defensive a tactic perhaps? Let's get on the forward foot:

9.) Thief stopper sandwich bags

Neat huh?

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10.) Doctor your food

Put green or blue food dye in your milk. It tastes the same but no one will touch it.

11.) Know a medical student?

Tap them up to see if they can source you one of these:

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12.) Hidden camera

You can get some really tiny numbers at on-line spy stores but a carefully placed web cam/laptop will do the trick. This is EVIDENCE people! You can take them down to the cop shop!

13.) Make references to a sinister disease or condition

Don't make it too obvious, don't mention anything specifically, just drop the odd mention of 'going for your monthly blood test', 'the count was good' and 'just to be super safe, best not drink from my cup'.

14.) Laxatives

OK this is when the above tactics are getting you nowhere. Just grind up an extra large dose of laxatives and pop them in an item that is being persistently stolen.

You can add a note: 'Warning, I have added ground up laxatives to random items of my food - steal at your own risk'. But if you've got to this stage, you might not want to bother with the warning...

15.) A guard

Beyond the laxatives you could buy a small dog and train it to guard your shelf in the cupboard or even the fridge:

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If it’s on fridge duty we do recommend getting it a warm coat:

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16.) Special knife

Buy yourself a 'special' knife. Take to sharpening it regularly in the kitchen, carrying it around with you and stroking the blade lovingly.

We're giving a £100 Nando's voucher to someone who 'likes' us on Facebook before the end of this month (November 2012).

Tags: Going to university , Student food , University advice , Student Food Festival

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