How to phrase "eat what you want, don't take the piss"

I remember a post where guests ate absolutely EVERYTHING that was in the kitchen, the host usually lives there, and moves out for guests.
I was aware of this in December, and mentioned to the guests that they could eat what they want, but if they were going to eat it all, some kind of honesty payment. It felt clumsy as I said it, and they didn’t eat a thing, didn’t even touch the milk and bread I bought specifically for them, they went out to purchase their own…
So how do I phrase it? In a few days I have my second lot of people to take my whole home, and I want them to feel free to use stuff, but if I’m wiped out, that’s an added cost. Maybe I just say help yourselves, and take it on the chin?

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If it’s a whole home, just put in what you are happy for them to eat.


I would just say to them “Please feel free to help yourselves to some groceries from the fridge and pantry”. I would just leave in there a few things for them and the rest I would hide somewhere in a sideboard.


it’s my home, my freezer is full of food

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If it were me, I’d remove everything I didn’t want guests to use and store it where it’s not accessible to them. But, I have extra storage space and even second refrigerator/freezer.


Food for thought😎

Please enjoy my home. I live here full time so the pantry and freezer are stocked with food I plan to eat.

However please feel free to help yourself to perishables like milk, bread, butter, eggs, vegetables and condiments like mayonnaise.


How nice to hear you voice again!

If you live there most of the time, I can understand that your freezer is full at this time. Can you somehow put a pad lock on?

Otherwise I would just say that “I will leave you a welcome pack in the fridge and please use any spices/condiments, but the food in the freezer is not for guest use I’m afraid.”


that’s a good one. Tell them no freezer access, and clear a couple of shelves in the fridge. I shall take all the pricey Nutribullet ingredients with me, I don’t mind if they use the rest really.

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I have an inverse of @Barns situation. I have guests who leave items behind. It’s rare that there’s ever anything I would eat or drink.

If item is opened I trash it; if unopened I evaluate if future guests would want them

  • bottles of wine I give to extra special guests
  • bottled water, I provide to guests

But what to do with unique items. I’m thinking of placing them all in a guest house cabinet for future guests, with an invitation to use as their own.

Some recent items

  • Cans of Hard Seltzer (2020’s version the wine coolers of my youth)
  • Cola
  • Caramel popcorn
  • Doritos
  • Box of cereal

Questions: is this a tacky thing to do? Would you (as a guest) welcome it?

I think a guest would assume it’s a treat, and non-poisoned, just like they’d assume the bathroom has been cleaned to a certain standard.

I would automatically consume anything left by guests though, unless they looked like the poisoning type.


and you! x

(still 20 characters, I see)

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Hey, Barns!
I’ve stayed at more than one Airbnb with a designated guest shelf in the fridge, conspicuously labeled.


My guests are mostly for 3-5 days, with a lot of outdoor activities in the area during the day. It’s a separate kitchen & I provide a self catering cereal/bread/dairy breakfast. Many like to try restaurants within walking distance for breakfast, and others may cook most of their meals. Guests have been good about cleaning up if they cook or eat there.

I just have some small plastic baskets on top of the fridge, with a sign that says “Please put your name on your basket and food”, and a bag with labels & a Sharpie.

In my checkout message I ask them to tell me if they are leaving food behind so I won’t think it belongs to someone that is still here. I’ve found some strange snacks and beverages stuck in out of the way places.

I ask guests to eat in the kitchen, and the sign with the WiFi password in each room has a reminder that House Rules require all food to be consumed in the kitchen. Even though the robovac does a great job on the hardwood floors, I learned very early that it really helps if folks don’t eat in the room.

I had guests arrive who were leaving on a 10 day wilderness sea kayak trip (I had offered a safe place to store their kayaks). They brought several bearproof food canisters with them (required by wilderness permits) and had more from their guide. They spent a whole afternoon packing foods, removing most packaging, trying to shrink everything down. Not in the kitchen, in their room.

Fortunately, they checked out early. It was beyond robovac. It was Kirby time. They were into nuts, grains, cereals, and seeds. I had a high fiber area rug. :wink:


@Barns you will also want to maintain the condiments in your fridge.

I have one of these on the door:


Simple solution: have a dedicated space in the fridge and the cupboard only for guests and tell them that the food items that you added there (bread, butter, eggs etc.) is a welcome gift and they can use it. Everything else they need to buy from a shop. People will appreciate the clarity, welcome gifts and also the dedicated space.

This halfway solution of allowing guests to eat your food, but expecting them to replenish the same food, even though you might want to eat it that day, is pretty awkward and I would really not enjoy the lack of clarity as a guest.

Just my twopence.


This is fabulous!

But what I what to know is, who the hell buys chocolate syrup and doesn’t eat it in less than 6-8 months?

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yeah! Once saw a recipe page suggesting dishes that would use up leftover wine…

Never heard of such a thing


I don’t think it’s tacky at all, as long as it looks organized and old stuff is cleaned out. No one ever leaves packaged, uneaten food at my place, but if they did, I’d co-opt it for welcome baskets.

That’s what I did. If it was unopened and didn’t need refrigeration, then I just put it in the pantry. I told guests they were welcome to eat all of the food and drinks in the house. Nothing lasted more than about 3 weeks except a box of dried lasagna and a bag of pinto beans.

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As a guest, I would just think it was something you were supplying as the host unless it was explained on the cabinet. I could see, as a late night arrival, it possibly being a perk, depending on what was in there. It’s kind of a neat idea as long as it is explained clearly that it is stuff left by guests. I think you need to be clear about that or you’ll get a review that says, “overall a great stay, but the food cabinet was under-stocked and had a strange selection of items”. :wink:

Our guests often leave stuff but we end up throwing most of it out. Wine (if it’s better than what we supply ,) and liquor go upstairs to us, bottled water is kept for someday-maybe-giving-to-departing guests but mostly collects on a shelf in the basement because it’s not the bottled water that I would buy and food and condiments almost always get tossed or given away. Using Doritos as an example, they just don’t fit in with the style of stuff we stock the apts with (e.g. kettle cooked gourmet chips instead) so we don’t leave them; however, I like your idea of the pantry as long as it’s clear that it’s from other guests.

The most common example, for us, is beer. We leave craft beer from a local brewery in the fridge. The guests often drink the craft beer and then leave behind some Budweiser or Miller Light. I am not going to leave Budweiser or Miller Light for my guests because 1. It doesn’t fit our style and 2. My guests clearly prefer the craft beer :wink: