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I live with two people. We share a kitchen and living room. One of the roommates cooks a lot! I know you need to share things when living with other people, but she's in it so often it's regular for me not to be able to eat when I want to.

My cooking is very simple (to my embarrassment). For example I boil potatoes on the stove for 10 minutes or throw some chicken on my electric grill. Often times I don't need to be in the kitchen, for example while my food is in the oven. On the other hand my roommate stands at the stove to stir her food. The problem is when someone stands there it blocks off the oven, sink, cupboards and counter space.

I do shift work so my schedule changes frequently. Otherwise I would have asked to have a schedule for using the kitchen. I'm fortunate enough to live so close to where I work I can come home on my breaks. I My roommate works from home and uses the kitchen frequently during her breaks.

A friend suggested that if I see her using the kitchen I can ask her when she'll be done. This works OK. I tried talking to her about my concerns and she said I can ask her to let me use something or pass me something from the cupboard. I'm uncomfortable with always asking her to move out of the way when I need something. She also said she's not interested in some sort of schedule because some days she cooks more than other days.

How can I communicate to her that I would really appreciate it if she tries to cut back on the amount of time she spends in the kitchen, without sounding rude?

To emphasize, I get other people need a turn with the kitchen but if one person is using it so much I'm not getting many turns I would like to at least like them to know that.

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    Does she eat a hot meal that often? I’m having a hard time picturing someone having to cook so much, especially for one person, that this is posing such a problem. Do you all eat separately? Would taking turns of one person cooking for everyone be an option?
    – AsheraH
    Dec 28, 2020 at 10:56
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    "I'm uncomfortable with always asking her to move" Could you use some councel on this? Experience tells me this is the better path to success.
    – DTRT
    Dec 28, 2020 at 17:02
  • @AsheraH good points. I will respond inline. "Does she eat a hot meal that often? I'm not sure if she eats her meal while it's still hot. I’m having a hard time picturing someone having to cook so much, especially for one person, that this is posing such a problem. I am surprised to, but the kitchen is small and she really likes cooking. Do you all eat separately? Yes. Would taking turns of one person cooking for everyone be an option? I don't think so, then we would have to share cost of groceries etc"
    – Noetics
    Dec 29, 2020 at 8:12
  • @Johns-305 the keyword is always. To me it feels unfair I have to ask her if I can get a turn with the kitchen each time. I have just as much right to it. If it's occasional, that's fine, but not as a general rule.
    – Noetics
    Dec 29, 2020 at 8:14
  • @Noetics Is the kitchen or surrounding area large enough for a physical solution? If pot stirring is the main conflict, you can suggest she use a hotplate/burner more out of the way or reorg in a way that accommodates both of you. If so, I can expand to an full Answer.
    – DTRT
    Dec 29, 2020 at 17:33

2 Answers 2

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The problem isn't that your roommate uses the kitchen too much, the problem is you both want to use it at the same time. If she only cooked for thirty minutes a day, but it was during your break from work, then you'd still have a problem. Cooking for thirty minutes a day would be completely reasonable, and it'd be unreasonable to ask for it to be less, so simply asking for her to spend less time cooking isn't a great solution. It increases the chance you won't have a timing conflict, but it doesn't guarantee it. Plus it completely ignores that your roommate is cooking that much for a reason, so she's not likely to agree to stop.

The actual issue is you need a way to resolve it when you both want to cook at the same time. A schedule could work, but neither of you want that. That pretty much leaves resolving it on a case-by-case basis.

I rent out a room in my house, so this is something I run into frequently. We generally resolve it using these techniques:

  • If you're going to making something elaborate, you warn other people ahead of time so everyone can plan around it or raise an objection

  • If someone will be needing the kitchen at a predictable time (you regularly cook before leaving for work or on a lunch break, etc), then everyone else avoids using it at that time

  • If someone else is using the kitchen when you want it, ask how much longer they'll be. If it's a few minutes, just wait for them to be done. If it'll be longer and you just want to put on a pot to boil, ask them if you can do so. It's generally not an issue, most things can stop being stirred for a moment

  • If you need something from a cupboard when someone else is in the kitchen, say excuse me and grab it when they move

Yes, you will have to talk to each other. Yes, it means the kitchen will not always be available when you want it and you might have to wait a bit if you don't plan ahead. That's the reality of sharing a space with someone though.

Another option could be a sign-up sheet that you only fill out a day in advance, to accommodate shifting schedules. If nobody is signed up for a time, then the kitchen is open for anyone to use, but if someone does sign up, then everyone else avoids using it during that time. Obviously only reserve it for times you'll definitely be using it. I've never tried this for sharing a kitchen, but it works well for meeting rooms, and it's essentially solving the same problem.

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  • These are good options. The time to talk is at a calm time. And just because she doesn't want a schedule, doesn't mean that others don't need one. There's always the option of playing dumb and showing what it means to take over the kitchen with many pots cooking at once (yes you need 3 side dishes.) Dec 29, 2020 at 23:51
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Just be a normal person and share the space. The kitchen is as much yours as it is the roommate's. Simply say:

Hey I'll get in here and cook some of my stuff, may you please make a little room for me on the counter.

Move around each other and say nice words like "excuse me" or "right behind you" or "I have to rinse this/that when you are done in the sink", or "I'm about to put the dirty dishes in the sink, do you need to rinse or soak something?"...

So many roommate problems happen when people get offended because they are too entitled or uncomfortable to speak to the person they LIVE with. If you are having problems with your roommate because the roommate is cooking, then it seems that the problem is bigger than cooking in the kitchen is the outlet for the misplaced anger/miscommunication towards the roommate. Cooking is a basic necessity, if you or your roommate have time to make that an issue, that speaks more to the quality of human being a person is than an actual problem.

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  • Hi Paloma, welcome to IPS. As it stands, your answer lacks some backup. It has to be based on facts and not opinions. Can you please expand your answer to meet these guidelines?
    – OldPadawan
    May 20, 2023 at 5:34

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