Considering Getting a Roommate for Healthy Reasons

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I don't know where else to post this, so maybe this is the best forum for it. I'm considering getting a roommate if I can find one who will cook in exchange for a room. We can share the utility expenses and cost of food. My question is, should I have a contract and if so, what rules or stipulations should go into the contract? I'd like an understanding up front about what is and is not allowed.

I haven't had a roommate in decades, but if I could find the right person, I think it could work out. I like to spend all my time outdoors, so the roommate would be responsible for the cooking and cleaning. It's a small house and my bedroom and my laundry would be my responsibility. But the commons areas that we share would be her responsbility, which would be less than 1000 sq ft. I wouldn't expect a home cooked meal everyday; I can eat leftovers, sandwiches and salads. But it would be nice to have someone prepare the stuff (cut up the veggies for the salads, cook stuff in the crockpot or stove, etc). We could freeze individual servings so I could help myself when I get hungry.

How can I make this work? To be honest, bringing someone into my home scares the daylights out of me. I've been alone for a long time and I like it. But I've gotten into the habit of eating out or eating junk food again since I hate to bother with preparing meals. So I've gained back the 40 lbs I lost and I have to get my weight under control. I want to spend all my time working on my gardens and when I'm focused on a project, I don't want to waste time cooking and cleaning.

Anyone have any ideas of what should go in the contract or any suggestions on how to weed out the riff-raff? I really want to find someone I could be compatible with.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

WOW.... I can appreciate your concerns AND you have some thought into WHAT you want and what you would expect. I don't know your age, but you might consider the local college and talk to the staff that deals with "misplaced housewifes", women who have gone back to school for reasons of divorce etc. The problem with that "set" is that many have children and that probably is not in your expectations.

Depending on your community, you might be able to find a school teacher who commutes. I live in a tiny community and housing is awful! Could you check with some local churches?

With all that said, it might be "safer" with less potential problems if you bought more "Prepared healthy choice" kind of frozen food. That would be portion controlled, OR, is there one of those homedelivered meal places in your area? they are meant to cater to busy families that still want home cooked without as much work.

Whatever you decide, I hope it works out wonderfully for you. I got around this by cooking in quanitity and freezing portions. It helped cut down on the expense and work.

If you do decide to get a roommate, YES you want lots of formal paperwork including a criminal background check and credit check and references YOU call and talk to.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the response. I am really "Kitchen challenged" and am not into cooking or preparing food at all. For that reason I eat a lot of salads and sandwiches which get boring after a while. I tried packaged frozen foods and just didn't like them. Canned foods have too much sodium. I'm really hoping to find someone who enjoys cooking and prepares healthier meals rather than the southern fried food I grew up on.

We don't have a home-delivered meal service like you mentioned. But that sounds like a great idea! With our city growing so fast, we just might get one soon. We're getting just about everything else.

You're right, I'm looking for someone without children. My house is small and I already have two big dogs who take up quite a bit of space. There would really be room for only one person I think.

You make some great suggestions. We do have Ark. State Univ. here and I didn't think about that. That might be a great place to put up a flyer. I can't believe I didn't think of it. (Slaps self on forehead!)

I did get several responses to my Craigslist ad, but none seemed right. So I'll keep looking. Thanks for all the suggestions.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

I would have made a great companion/ roommate back in 2004 to 2006 when I was in grad school!! I am a GREAT cook and can cook very healthy. The place I rented had a beautiful view out the back deck of the neighbor's flower garden. That helped sustain me when gardening was not possible at that period of time. I did have ONE barrel of flowers and some funky Garden art on my sidewalk, does that count? LOL

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

I just had a thought... maybe you could find someone at Weight Watchers or other weight control program willing to do the cooking for both of you if you paid for the ingredients?? I would have HOPPED on that deal!!

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I sure could use you now! Are you sure you don't want to move to the south where we have a much longer growing season? And my entire yard is a garden and you'd be free to play in the dirt anytime you want!

Outside the guest room window is a garden with a pond. But I'm moving the pond and putting in a fountain instead and soothing sounds will sing you to sleep each night. LOL

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Oh, that's a great idea! I've been thinking about joining weight watchers. Let me write a note so I won't forget. You're so clever! I'm so glad you answered my post.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

Nah... I got a husband, a cat and most of family less than 50 miles away.

When my sister and I did Weight watchers together we always brought stuff for each other. She had more money than time, I had time and NO money. I would make wonderful homemade stuff that I carefully tracked the carbs, and "exchanges" on to "make it legal" for WW and she would sometimes buy us some special treat or new product. But the best part was being with my Sister.

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

I was considering dropping everything and taking on the job till you came to the part with the "2 big dogs"...........LOLOL So I will stay with my Spousal Unit and the 4 semi-large cats. :>) I love to cook, tho, and would have jumped at the chance to do something like that if I was single.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Ah Anna, if your spouse is "handy", I can put him to work! As for the two big dogs, they're just pussycats. The bigger one grew up with cats so they're just family to him. The smaller dog would think they're his "babies"--stuffed animals he could play with. He thinks everyone and everything was put here on earth just to entertain him. But one of the neighborhood strays keeps telling him NO NO NO. LOL

Here's a pic of my furbrats. Don't yours want to come out and play with the big hairy beasts?

Thumbnail by ButterflyChaser
Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

Ummm............they'd all vapor-lock............sent my DS dog packing. Dog won't even come to the closed kitchen door anymore. LOL And I'm afraid I agree with the cats............I am NOT a dog person. But, however, I still do love to cook. But, perhaps you'd find my meals
B O R I N G..............we pretty much eat the same things day after day. We follow an eating plan and it is SO much easier for me if it TELLS me what to have. Yah, lazy, I know. But I cook up 5 pounds of ground round at a time............or5 pounds or so of chicken breast..........you get the idea. Mealtime I measure out, no need to really cook all the time. Works for me. :>)

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I cook in bulk too...when I cook...which isn't often. I usually freeze individual portions for later. But my cooking abilities are lacking. I used to bake a lot, almost daily, before I took up gardening. I can make some of the best desserts to go in your mouth, but of course I don't need those and I don't have anyone to bake for now either. When I worked in construction, the guys I worked with would eat anything I carried to work. But now that it's just me, I don't bother baking since I don't need the sugar.

An eating plan is probably something I NEED!

I have gotten several responses from my ad, but no one who seems to be compatible enough. If stays 100 degrees all summer, like it is now, I may give up gardening til fall and learn to make some healthy meals myself.

I love cats too. I used to have a most beautiful long haired blue eyed himalayan with an attitude. She put Sam, the big white dog above, in his place. Ever since, Sam has respected cats.

Now how could you not love those two big furballs above?? There's just nothing like being loved so well by them that when you leave the house, you're almost as hairy as they are. LOL I was in the store one day and the guy behind me said, "I can tell you have a big dog." I said, "Yeah, I guess the hair on my clothes gives it away." He said, "Nope, it's the two big paw prints on your back." LOL The beasts just walk all over me!

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

"paw prints on your back" !!! LOL. love it!

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I think I've found a roommate. He moves in next weekend. He was over here last week to put new hardwood flooring in his room. I got 120 sq ft of good hardwood, brand new in boxes, for $35 at a flea market. As his "deposit", he installed the flooring, with a little help from me. We worked well together. He's not a chauvenist and was very gracious and courteous.

Over lunch we talked about what I liked to eat, what my health goals were, what I expected, etc. We have similar health goals and similar likes. We're about the same age and he has family here in town too. He's happy with the house and enjoys my dogs, so I think he'll be a good fit.

The day after I agreed to let him move in, a young lady emailed me. She will be going to college here in the fall and really wanted to rent a room with me. She sounds ideal too. She had a weight problem all her life and has finally lost 100 lbs. She loves to cook and thought she could help me get my health on track. I invited her to drop by visit and visit with me and my new roommate when she's in town. I have another bedroom I could rent out to her if my new roommate is agreeable. But if he isn't keen on the idea, then I won't invite her to live with us. But boy, wouldn't I feel like a princess with two people here to cater to me?? I've been independent and self-sufficient for decades. I won't know what to do if someone is preparing all my meals. I'll be so spoiled! And loving it, I'm sure.

Anyway, it looks like I'm on the way to healthier, happier living. I'll have at least one roommate. One of the great things about having another person in the house is that it is forcing me to stop living like a bachelor. I've been cleaning and organizing everything and getting rid of stuff. I just had too much stuff despite all the decluttering I've done in the past few years. If I get a 2nd roommate, I'll have to clear out another room of stuff, but it really needs to be done anyway. Who needs all this stuff??? Not me!

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Congratulations! I hope that it works out that they both can live there - three heads are better 'n one and many hands make light the tasks... (You are taking a step that scares me - too many movies about creepy roommates☺)

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Hi Juney! I am a little nervous too. But I refuse to live in fear. I've been in frequent contact with my roommate and have worked with him while putting down the hardwood. I'm a pretty good judge of character and I don't get any omenous vibes from him. My brother has met with him a couple of times too and he likes him. They both like sports and fishing. So they'll probably be river rats together. I think he'll fit in around here. He's close to his family, so that says something about him too. I'm really looking forward to some good healthy cooking. My salads are getting boring. LOL

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

I sure hope it works out☺ (I'll be praying for you)

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

My roommate, Lewis, moved in on 4th of July, while I was having a little luncheon with a few friends I can always count on to come over when I say FREE FOOD. LOL I talked him and his brother into joining us and helping us eat the smorgasboard of food I had on the table. My friends all say he's a nice guy. He fits right in with our group.

We get along great, at least right now, in this "honeymoon" phase. LOL He works nights and sleeps days, so I rarely see him. He gets up about 5 p.m., makes a wonderful dinner, then cleans up the dishes and the kitchen, and goes back to bed until time to go to work. His parents live here and his mom starts chemo tomorrow, so he's been visiting them everyday. He mows their yard and repairs things for them. I haven't met them yet, but his mom wants to meet me.

He's an excellent cook. OMG he made the BEST lasagna I ever had last week--better than mine even!! We ate on it for days and I still wish we had some. I may go get the ingredients and have him make more and we'll freeze individual servings. He's also made several baked fish meals with brown rice and I made a big salad we can eat with our dinners. We're focusing on eating what we want, but cutting down our portion sizes since we both eat more than we should. Our game plan is to load up on fruits and veggies and eat smaller portions of the stuff we really love. It's working out well; my clothes are a little looser and I'm feeling better just in a week or so.

He's really easy to get along and he's very neat and tidy and quiet. He even puts the toilet seat down and doesn't leave toothpaste all over the bathroom sink. I only know he's in the house because there's always some delicious meal prepared. I feel like a Princess!

He also does some of the handyman chores I have on the to-do list. He's been invaluable! I hope things continue to be this wonderful.

I wish it weren't so hot outside (105 degrees). Since he does so much around here, I have lots of time to garden, but the humidity is so high I just can't breathe out there! I have so much to do, especially since we were flooded all of spring so I didn't even get to garden. Now I have someone taking care of the cooking and cleaning and can't garden. I've been volunteering at the medicine assistance program to stave off boredom. But I really wanna work in the garden.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

Sound great and I hope it continues to be this wonderful.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

So do I. I'm sure this "honeymoon phase" will pass, but hopefully we'll settle into a comfortable living arrangement. He loves to cook; says it relaxes him. And he wants to get healthier too. We like the same foods and have the same weight loss goals. So hopefully we can get healthy together. I don't charge him rent; he cooks for his room. He'll help buy the food and utilities, which is only fair. So we both think it's a great arrangement. We really don't see each other much since he works nights and sleeps days. I see him usually for breakfast and for dinner and that's about it. He's very quiet and neat. He has been courteous and respectful and hasn't used one four letter word. I think his Mama raised him right. I'll meet her soon and thank her. :-)

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Well, give us an update - how is the roomey working out?

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Well, it worked out great for 3 weeks. I thought we were getting along fine. When he started working 12 hr shifts, I took over some of his duties because he was so tired. I even did some cooking for him.

Then he came home from work one morning and said he was moving out. He said his aunt offered him a free room. Within an hour, he was gone. I had thought we were getting along fine. I had even asked him a few days earlier how he thought we were doing and if he intended to stay long-term. He said everything was great--no problems. So I'm confused.

I'm interviewing other people this weekend. I've given up on finding someone to cook for me. So I've increased the rent and am just looking for someone I can tolerate living with. I need to buy a new vehicle so the extra cash would help.

For health, I've started taking Zumba classes on Mon and Tues nights and I've joined a gym to use the other days of the week. Some of the ladies I work with are joining me. I'm trying to fill up all my free time with activities of some sort. Later this week I'm taking a Powerpoint class. And later this month I'm taking a resume-writing class. I'd like to go back to work full-time at some point, and I'll need a spiffy resume. It's been a long time since I had to hunt for a job!

Our public library offers lots of free classes and activities, so I'm watching their calendar of events for other classes, seminars, activities that I'd like to participate in. Getting back into life, I think, will help with weightloss and my overall health as well.

It sure would be nice to find someone to cook for me though. I got a little taste of what it's like to be a Princess and I'm certain I could get used to it. LOL

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

Butterfly, there may have NOT been any problems but if he could move in with the aunt and avoid WORK and money.... well.... Sorry that one was a great fit and short lived.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Yep - he'll probably come back to you after he realizes what a sweet living arrangement he had. Relatives usually get sick of other relatives 'sponging' off them before long and give the 'offender' the 30-day notice to GET OUT!

New York, NY(Zone 6b)

That was quite immature of him to leave so suddenly. How old was he?. At least if you knew he was leaving in advance, you could have started the search again for another roommate. So sorry that it did not work out. If you were my neighbor, I would cook or bring you food every day or enough for 2 days if I was busy.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

He's 42. He had said he didn't want to live with family, altho I knew he had family in town. So I was quite surprised and confused when he said he was moving in with an aunt. He was only paying $150/mo here. And he was working 60 hrs a week, so he had the money.

Ahhhh, Torriesmom, you're so sweet!

I may spend some time this winter finding some good healthy recipes and prepare them myself and stock my freezer with them. I've tried some of the packaged dinners in the stores, but most just taste so bland or funky. I couldn't find enough variety that I liked to stock my freezer with. What I did like didn't have a lot of nutrients. And in my city, we don't really have any healthy dining places. Sure, they serve salad, but I make salad at home. I'd like to find some good healthy hot foods. It would be nice if we had just one restaurant that focused on a low cal, low carb, sugar free menu. Torriesmom and Kay, do y'all have anything like that in NY or FL? If so, I'd love to hear about them.

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

Start up your own place like that. Might be just the thing.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

We have Subways here to fill that request - I take my son and grandsons there often. I don't like Subway as well as I like Firehouse, but it's much cheaper.

New York, NY(Zone 6b)

There are many specialty places to eat for healthy food. I personally have not eaten in the low cal, low carb, sugar free places ($$) with small portions but they are there. Many people have adopted vegetarian diets etc. because of health reasons, price, pesticides and bad press regarding meat. I am leaning toward Asian foods from the restaurants with the steamed vegetables and lighter sauces on the food. It is easy travel to Chinatown and I work not too far from "Little Korea". Going into their markets are a real treat and eating in the restaurants with the atmosphere is really satisfying. You get to pick what you want to eat or buy. Labels will tell you if it will fit with your specific diet sometimes.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

We have Subways here too, but you get tired of sandwiches after a while. I'm also diabetic so I don't need or even want a lot of bread.

I'd love some of those specialty places you have, TM. I do eat a lot of fruits and veggies simply because they're easy to fix, no cooking required. I think I'll spend some time this winter learning to make various stir fries and soups that I can freeze.

Most of our restaurants here focus on "comfort foods"--all that southern fried cooking that tastes so good but isn't good for you. And my doctor mentioned the other day that our social interactions all revolve around food and if you're at someone's house, they feel obligated to feed you well and you feel obligated to eat a lot so you don't hurt their feelings. And it's true. We almost never get together without making food a secondary part of the night's entertainment. We have a gazillion restaurants in my little city, and many of them have buffet lunch and dinner 7 days a week so we can eat our fill of all that sugary and high carb, delicious food. And it's so hard to resist, so I just have to avoid eating out, except on very rare occasions.

I guess I'll just have to rely on myself and learn to make healthier meals. I grew up on southern cooking so that's what I know how to cook. I need to join the local diabetes support group. I bet they share recipes there. I get some diabetic recipes thru email, but many are either too complicated or use ingredients I never heard of or just don't suit my taste. Of course, I think I just have to learn to like foods other than comfort foods.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

Bufferfly, if you would like I can have my husband contact you with some of his receipes. He does our cooking it's generally low carb, uses artificial sweetners, sometimes is not as low fat as I'd like but it is not FRIED. We generally have a small salad, split a bag of steamed vegetables and then a protein entree of some meat OR we have a lot of "one pot" cooking when it's LOTS of vegetables, some sauce like spagetti sauce and meat, sometimes topped with cheese.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Oh, that would be great! If it freezes well, maybe he could let me know too. I want to cook big batches and freeze individual portions to grab as needed to keep me from running to town for fast food. I've really got to add more protein to my diet. I'm not a big meat eater, probably because what tastes good is usually breaded and fried. So I miss out on a lot of the protein I need, which means I then fill up on carbs instead. Tsk Tsk. Thank you so much for asking your hubby to send me some recipes.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

NancyAnn, have you tried turkey burger? I LOVE the taste and it freezes well - how about making up individual patties, freezing them and thawing them as needed? You can flavor them any way you like - the meat is as versatile as hamburger with about 1/4 the fat and calories.

As for Subway, though not my favorite, I get everything they offer without any sauce, take the sandwich apart, chop up the meat and cheese and make a salad - so delicious!

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

I make up 5 pounds of ground round at a time..........season it with some of my unsalted home-made tomato sauce..........with onions, celery, and green peppers. I cook up about 4 pounds of chicken breast..............you can season with herbs or whatever............i don't salt. I put it in the little Nesco roaster with some water..........I guess you could almost call it "poached". LOL I then have 2 different kinds of protein cooked up and don't have to "cook" every meal every day.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

We precook the meats too.

Seasoned chicken breasts and burgers are both grilled and frozen separately.

That lends a new meaning to "fast food". Much more pleasant to come home at the end of a grim day and know dinner is served.

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

We also cook in big batches usually. My husband makes "unstuffed cabbage", one of my favorites. LOTS of fresh veggies and hamburger.

When I was watching my cholestrol I was very surprised by how much cholesterol was in "turkey burger" so I did not eat it.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Only the ground white meat of the turkey is lower in cholesterol & calories than ground beef - check the label to see if the ground turkey includes the skin - if it does, don't buy it!

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

Ok...........how do you make "unstuffed" cabbage. I have a half a cabbage I need to use, and steaming it was not a good choice for the first half. LOLOL

(Pat) Kennewick, WA(Zone 5b)

my husband cooks and sets aside the meat (lean hamburger in our case)in a skillet. He chops onions and sautes those until carmalized, then adds chopped green pepper, adding spaggetti sauce to bring it to a boil. You only want enough spaggetti sauce to moisten it all up, not swimming in it. THEN add coarsely chopped cabbage. Bring it right back to boil, top with cheese. Cover will the lid of the skillet. As soon as the cheese is melted, it is READY. The trick to not making it watery is not over cook the cabbage. The cabbage should still have some life left in it,. If you need more precise recipe with how much of everything I'll ask my husband to type it out for me later today.

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

No, just wondered how you did the cabbage. Thanks.

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