Is it ok to eat the hosts food?

We’ve just had our first housesitter experience. When we met up with our housesitters we did say help yourself to anything you need. What I wasn’t expecting is to come home to an empty fridge (we’d left 3 tubs of butter, long expiry, 1kg block of cheese plus other cheeses, condiments) semi empty freezer (all my frozen veggies, ice cream gone) our drinks fridge (canned soft drinks) had been drank, when we’d left entire cartons of soft drink. My pantry had been pracrically cleared out (a few of my baking goods containers were empty, flour, caster sugar, icing sugar) they’d eaten all my snacks, peanut butter, honey, Nutella all gone. And that’s all I’ve discovered so far.
My question is…is this normal? Don’t housesitters usually supply their own food? I know we said help yourself but I feel this was a bit extreme.

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Wow! That is extreme. Just curious how long the Sit was, and in what country do you live? Is the grocery store close, and is grocery delivery available in your area?

I guess there is a very fine line between making Sitters feel comfortable through your generosity, and Sitters taking advantage of that generosity. Unfortunately, you offered them to help themselves, and they decided to do just that.

I think only one in 50 Sitters would do that. Normally, we would use some oils, vinegars, spices, and a little bit of flour, sugar, bread crumbs, but never ever use anything else without replacing. That is terrible. Bad manners.

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We’ve had nine sitters and never had that happen, despite always saying “help yourself.” As said above, that’s just bad manners. I’d be annoyed. Same time, they didn’t technically do anything wrong.

As HO I’d like to be warned, which maybe you can do in a tongue in cheek/compliment sandwich way in your review? Like “the cats seem happy and well taken care of. I was surprised to find the fridge and pantry cleared out, but then I did tell them to help themselves. At least they refilled the ice trays before leaving.”

That’s assuming they did a good job otherwise, of course. If not, use that blind review system for all it’s worth.

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Most of the homeowners I’ve sat for have said “help yourself” but I’ve only ever used leftovers, condiments, tea, coffee, and a few tins. If I use anything like cheese or butter I’ll usually replace it.

I always bring my own food.

I don’t think it’s right to strip the HO’s supplies.

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That seems extreme! Even if folks tell me to help myself, I dont typically unless its something that will go bad like salad, fresh veggies/fruit. I buy my own groceries. Maybe next time just say they are free to have what might spoil in the time you are gone?

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Hey @Love2travell welcome to the forum.

In many instances, you’ll find threads that discuss “clear communication” on more than just food issue in your OP; laundry expectations especially.
And then many more that include " lesson learned."

As a HO, what I say in my welcome guide is: help yourself (use at will, meaning ok to empty) to the following pantry staples, as much as needed (herbs/spices, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar). And help yourself (use at will) to what I leave in the fridge: milk, butter, eggs, bread, as much as needed.

Anything else in the pantry or fridge/freezer, go ahead and use small/reasonable amounts. Example: I have coconut oil in the pantry. If you need a bit, of course go ahead. I have herb teas in the pantry, if you use a little bit, help yourself. I have cornstarch in the cupboard, a small amount is ok to use.

If you use a lot of anything else other then what is specified to use at will, then please replace what you used other than what is specified to use at will.

Write it down, it makes things much easier.

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Wow, it seems that you are a bit of a prepper? I would never have that much butter at home. But surely, the cheese should be eaten if this was a longish sit?

Indeed! As a sitter, I don’t often cook from basics. I live on food from food trucks etc, and on pies etc from local markets that I can put in an oven.

It’s rather cheeky. I buy my own groceries, but also don’t feel bad about helping myself to the odd bit of this and that if needs be. If I used lots of something I’d replace it, and I usually cook a meal for home owners on their return at my own expense, so for me it all comes down to give and take, and not taking advantage.

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@Love2travell That is outrageous, and I am wondering if you should mention this in your review. Just a statement of fact, not a statement of whether it’s right or wrong.

Yes, you said help yourself. However…

It’s very important for future homeowners to know that these sitters appear to think it’s OK to do what they did.

So, including the facts about this situation will provide future HOs with details they might want to know.

P.S. - We are HOs and sitters.

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I’m so glad my Dad taught me at an early age when someone says “help yourself” they are just being nice and don’t mean it literally. I’m a sitter, when I’m on a sit I do not use any of HO food, spices, snacks etc. I buy my own food, oils, spices etc in spite of the HO telling me to help myself. This way they can’t say I ate all of xyz, used all xyz, drank all of xyz.

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English is an impossible language!

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@pietkuip Not impossible at all some people were not taught proper manners, simply lack common sense and are outright inconsiderate - as in this case.

Thank you!

I was in Cambridge, but the hosts were continental savages like me, so we could communicate directly. They had stocked their fridge for me, it was full of meats etc, new unopened packaging from M&S. Perishables. They were off on a three weeks trip.

I did my best the first week (doing otherwise would have been poor manners I felt), but I had to put half of that in the freezer.

After that, I felt free to get takeaway etc.

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This Cambridge experience is a good example of Owners who actually stocked up their kitchen for you and told you, encouraged you to “help yourself.”

Perhaps the Original Poster’s sitters thought that this was a similar situation. Honestly.

Even though the Sitters’ behavior was terrible, I would just figure that $200 USD worth of food was still a bargain compared to paying a sitter, and hopefully the Sitters stayed home more with the pets while they cooked. It would be interesting to know what the Sitters said in their review of that Sit!

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Aw, bit I would hope as a HO, and you as my guest, you would use freely what I said you can use. You are super responsible (I can tell) but if hosts say it’s ok, then you should believe it’s ok and make your travels easier :slight_smile:

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I always wonder why people can’t communicate properly. You don’t want the sitter to touch your food? Say it or lock it. Only small amounts? Be specific. Free to eat everything? Say it! People can’t see in your head. What’s okay for one person isn’t for another.
I’m German and that has indeed some advantages sometimes. :grin:

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@Felinelover buying my own grocery doesn’t make my travels harder or burdensome. I prefer to buy my own food especially since all of my sits (except 1) have been international - Europe, Asia, Australia, UAE.

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Totally your choice!

This exactly!