I've just started living with a partner for the first time and we share all our food shopping. I am constantly finding myself not knowing what food is in the cupboard (when at the shop) and who owes what as we are splitting the cost of all food shopping.

Any tips on keeping a handle on those two things? We currently write our name on a receipt and put it in a jar but that doesn't solve the "what is in the cupboard" problem!

  • I'm just referring to when you are sharing everything and making sure that one person isn't just paying for everything. And also as other people are buying food that you will be using its hard to know whats in the cupboard at any point (without looking obviously!).
    – cjquinn
    Sep 29, 2016 at 11:49
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    Why can't you look in the cupboard before you go shopping? Does it have a lock on it that only your partner has a key to? Anyways just keep a list on a whiteboard next to the cupboard or ask your partner before you go to the store or something. Simple solution to lack of communication is to start communicating. Sep 29, 2016 at 14:24
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    I lived with 4 roommates, and we each bought and stored our food separately. No disputes that way! If you wanted to share an item, you could both pay for it and then split it into 2 containers, each of you taking half and using only your half. I didn't include this as an "answer" because you clearly asked about sharing, not separating.
    – BrettFromLA
    Sep 29, 2016 at 22:03
  • @CaptainObvious usually I go to the shop on the way back from work so the "look in cupboard" solution doesn't work :) My go to at the moment is to give my partner a call when I'm in the shop but if they aren't home that falls on its face as well!
    – cjquinn
    Sep 30, 2016 at 9:38

4 Answers 4


Something I've been doing for 30 years...

  • Plan your menus weekly, so you know pretty much what you'll be eating each day, & therefore its components. Plan on eating things with the shortest use-by dates early & the longest dates later in the week.

  • Check what you have in storage - cupboard/fridge/freezer & list what's missing; we use AnyList for iPhone & Mac, sharable lists so both can see what's on it at any given time. There are many alternatives.

  • Buy for the entire week, one day a week - say Saturday morning - & split the bill. Most supermarkets can split the total over two cards.

If you pre-plan so you don't run out of things mid-week, then you don't need any sort of 'cookie-jar' system at all.

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    I never thought about it from a menu point of view, that would reduce any wastage as well, thanks!
    – cjquinn
    Sep 30, 2016 at 9:40

Keeping a track of inventory is a tough job. One way to not over stock is to check the cupboards before going to buy groceries.

Splitting expenses is easy. Me and my team at office use an amazing app called Splitwise. The app shows how much you have spend and how much do other members owe to you.

(Note : I'm not related to splitwise in any way, except for being a user.)

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    Nice I'll definitely check out Splitwize, for what ever reason apps did not come to mind for this problem!
    – cjquinn
    Sep 30, 2016 at 9:45

Simple way to deal with the cupboard inventory: if you use something and there isn't enough to last until the shopping trip after next, write it on a list (kept in a designated location -- a magnetic pad on the fridge works well, if there's a pen attached). Take the list on each shopping trip.

Your method of splitting costs is a pretty good one; another is to have a "grocery jar" with money in it, and always put equal amounts in (for instance, both drop in a $20 bill -- at the same time helps avoid disputes over who did or didn't pay up), then take the contents to shop with. This latter could also be done with a prepaid debit card, though that has some associated expenses and "who has the card" issues...

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    So you keep track of whats missing as opposed to the complete inventory of your cupboard?
    – cjquinn
    Sep 30, 2016 at 9:42
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    Yes, essentially. You keep track of what you think you'll need to buy soon -- which may include things you don't have at all, but want ("I feel like some cheese puffs, but we never buy those because neither of us usually eats them"), as well as things you have but are low on inventory. The general idea is that what you keep in the cupboards will generally be things you use routinely; therefore, when the supply runs short, you need to buy more.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Sep 30, 2016 at 11:08

For the splitting of cost, I think the easiest way is to have a mutual account that you both have a card connected to.

Then you both just transfer x amount of dollars each month to that account that should go to food.

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