How can I handle food storage with my roommates in my USF apartment?

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Campus Lodge has spacious kitchens with energy star appliances, refrigerators, and microwaves for easy meal prep.

It's 3 a.m. You have been studying for seven hours straight, only breaking away from the grind to refill your coffee cup and swipe through TikTok to take a quick breather. You just want to eat a bowl of cereal and chill out before you go to sleep and do it all over again tomorrow. You open the fridge, but quickly remember you ran out of milk earlier that day. What else can you eat? You can barely see anything because your three other roommates' food is blocking the rest of the fridge in your 4 bedroom apartment. You squat down to get a closer look at your inventory, but notice there are items in there that haven't been touched in months. The cheese is blue and the bleu cheese is leaking out of the package! How did we get here?

Here are a few tips and tricks too can help you efficiently organize your food storage inside your University of South Florida apartment.

Take Inventory

Odds are your USF apartment is all inclusive and/or furnished and came with a refrigerator, or you and your roommates acquired one at some point. But how well do you use it? If you live like me and my roommates do, you generally go grocery shopping once a week. But do you go as a group? In my college experience, I've found that shopping as a unit helps coordinate meals for the week (we'll get to that later) and refreshes our memory on what food we have and how long it stays good for. When we come home, we also fill up the fridge, freezer, and pantry as a group.

In the refrigerator, we each have a drawer or shelf where we store our personal food and a shelf dedicated to group food that we buy in bulk. Things like eggs, milk, and shredded cheese need to be bought in bulk because of how often we eat them; if you want to mimic this, take note of what foods you and your roommates frequently eat and suggest to them that buying in bulk is the way to go.

Now that you have all of your new food for the week, you want to clear out some space to fit it all in. Throw out your expired or unappetizing food, push the good food together towards the front, and store your latest groceries where they belong.

Coordinate Meals As A Unit

We spoke about shopping for food as a group; now, it's time to cook as one! You will want to make meals that can last a day or two and provide enough food for everyone. Meals like pasta, beans and rice, and salads can use fridge space efficiently while keeping the apartment fed and content.

For instance, in my five-person household, we boil two boxes of pasta, cook some meat (usually ground turkey or chicken meatballs), and mix in two jars of sauce. Other times, we grill chicken, put it over a bed of lettuce, kale, and spinach, and throw some oil, vinegar, and parmesan cheese on top. Meals like these get stored in one big bowl, which opens up storage space, and get rid of meat and veggies that might get forgotten about and go bad when we're not looking. Believe it or not, cooking with your roommates can be a riveting time; just make sure your A/C is blowing so it doesn't get too smoky! These are just typical meals my roommates and I eat, but a quick Google search and some brainstorming can bring your home cooking to the next level!

Your time with your roommates in your USF apartment is special, and your daily eats can go from wasting money and refrigerator space to benefitting the whole crew. Since we all eat and drink on a daily basis, simple changes, like the ones suggested above, can switch up your routine and lift everybody up!

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