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The dry-erase board that keeps our household in line

One tiny investment made our kitch-uation significantly less chaotic

Photo by Nora Whelan

Even if your roommates aren’t stealing your dog, demanding you keep your toenails painted at all times, or converting their rooms into mini-landfills, sharing your home with others can be a challenge.

I consider my roommates to be some of my best friends, but we’ve never quite figured out how to make the fridge totally work. One of us is always shuffling food around to make room for a particularly big or strangely shaped item, obscuring some vegetable or dairy product in the process (before rediscovering it a month later during a funky smell investigation). It’s gross, it’s frustrating, it’s wasteful, and it can cause friction from time to time.

But one tiny investment has made my kitch-uation significantly less chaotic: this magnetic dry-erase board and markers set by Juvale. My roommates and I each use it to list our own food. That way, no matter where exactly things are moved, we know the contents of the fridge, when they’re set to expire, and who to ask if we want a bite of that glistening leftover General Tso’s beckoning from the top shelf.

Having a whiteboard on the fridge, rather than our previous collage of Post-It notes, has been especially liberating. Between its 11-by-17-inch size and an erasable surface, the board has both helped us cut down on our use of paper and provided a welcoming space for increased written communication, both practical and emotional. Even when our schedules don’t align, we have a permanent, dedicated place for non-passive-aggressive roommate announcements, the occasional doodle, and even loving references to our favorite children’s book turned viral hip-hop radio show segment.

Not that you need roommates—or anyone else at all, really—to enjoy the board’s benefits. Singles: Use it to remind yourself of all that extra squash from your CSA in need of cooking. Parents: Note the time on that PTA bake sale, the date of your kid’s next dance recital, or that museum permission slip that needs signing. Couples: Write down the exact equitable split of your household chores to avoid arguments, or scribble your partner a love note on your way out the door (i.e., “Hey, nice job on those chores!”). Any reminders that you or your housemate(s) need—of ingredients or responsibilities or just of appreciation—the board is the perfect place to leave them.

Making a home is a constant process, but this mighty little whiteboard has cut down drastically on the unpleasant smells and the unpleasant interactions in our apartment. And the best part is, for less than the price of a large General Tso’s, you can have this kind of peace, too.