April 17, 2014 6:02 AM   Subscribe

People are stealing my food out of the fridge at work. This is pissing me off. I need to find a lockable box. Please help.

I keep a stash of mini Babybel cheese at work for quick snacks. They are in a Tupperware box that is clearly labeled with my name on it. Yesterday I was out sick. Today I came in and found that more than half of my cheese is gone. This is not the first time this has happened. I'm hungry and still not feeling well and this has put me in an extremely shitty mood. I don't make a lot of money and bringing food to work is one of the ways I keep my spending down. Having people steal my food seriously sucks because I can barely afford groceries as it is. I can't have this happen any more.

My birthday was last month and I have a $100 gift card for Amazon. Does anyone have any recommendations for a small lockable lunch box within that dollar amount that I can get to keep in the fridge so no one can steal my food I'm thinking even like a cash box would work, but all the cash boxes I've seen are super big and really I only need something that's about the size of a medium-sized Tupperware container that locks.

Please help.

I am so angry.

posted by thereemix to Shopping (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I just searched "lockable lunch box" on amazon and found this. Temporarily out of stock, but I imagine it'll be back soon. Only $20.00. Doesn't prevent someone from stealing the whole shebang though.
posted by Grither at 6:05 AM on April 17, 2014

Why don't you just bring what you need for the day in a lunch box with ice packs that you keep with you? People at my work have stolen food from the community fridge before (just last week someone stole a cake for an employee's birthday party) so I keep my lunch locked in a cabinet in my classroom (I work in a school).
posted by Aranquis at 6:06 AM on April 17, 2014 [9 favorites]

This lockbox looks like it's for medications, but that might actually deter people even further, if they think it's your insulin or something.
posted by xingcat at 6:08 AM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I feel like a lockable lunch box might just encourage cheese-stealing assholes to mess with you :(

For what it's worth, Babybels keep well at room temp for days, although then they're room-temp Babybels, which do taste a bit different than cold Babybels.
posted by mskyle at 6:10 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with Aranquis--just take an ice pack and keep it at your deck each day.

Personally, I'd even forgo the ice pack. There is literally no food I am worried about taking from the fridge at home and leaving unrefrigerated at my desk for 2-3 hours before my lunch.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:13 AM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Does it need to be a "lunch" box? You can get small lockable cash boxes, e.g.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:13 AM on April 17, 2014

Uh, sorry I missed your mention of cash boxes, d'oh.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:14 AM on April 17, 2014

If you get an insulated lunchbox and an ice pack, there's no need at all for it to be in the fridge at all. Leave it at your desk/workstation. I suspect even with an insulated lunchbox that you kept in your fridge at home overnight would be fine by lunch time if you took it out just as you left for work.

Are you really eating anything for lunch that will spoil at room temperature in 4 hours or so? Surely not?
posted by Brockles at 6:17 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry. That sucks.

On a practical level, I think the easiest solution would be purchasing a small cooler bag with reusable ice (you can add water to a couple old juice bottles and freeze them, or buy Blue Ice if you're feeling fancy). Keep it at your desk. Cheese thief: Thwarted.

Of course, I recognize that that won't add the feeling of having thwarted the cheese thief in single combat. Also, I'm assuming you want to be able to leave your cheese in the fridge over multiple days, which is not possible with the cooler bag solution.

The Kitchen Safe uses a time lock. If you eat your cheese at the same time each day, you could set the timer -- bonus, if you get there at the same time as the cheese thief, you HAVE THEM. However, it is pricy ($50).

On the low-end side, I think you could probably make a locking Tupperware with a drill and a container with a hinged lid -- drill holes through the non-hinged side that will allow a cheap combination lock to catch both the lid and the main container, apply combination lock through hole, lock box. (If you don't have a drill, an X-Acto knife or similar might also work on a thin enough plastic.)

The solution would only work with a hinged lid, since a regular lid could probably be pried up on the other sides enough to allow cheese access. However, with a regular lid you could use zip-ties to hold the lid on two sides, mimicking a hinged lid, and then lock the opposite side. I think that might work. If the cheese thief still gets in, you can beef up the design.
posted by pie ninja at 6:27 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Besides a lockable lunchbox or keeping a lunchbox at your desk...

Have you tried a regular (opaque fabric) lunchbox that zips in the fridge? It seems that people are less likely to open a zipper then steal something if they can't see what's in it. Whereas with your name-marked tupperware they can see what the goodies are to steal.

Another option is to hide whatever you bring (in whatever container) in a drawer or the back of the fridge. I put my fruit cups and soy milk in a drawer and have so far not had them stolen.

I eat ALL the time at work. So I feel your pain of thinking you have something to snack on, and then not having it. An option is to bring some cheese to work in your lunch box on a daily basis too.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:30 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Should add, the Kitchen Safe is not currently available on Amazon. However, cheap padlocks, cheap cordless screwdrivers that can hold cheap drill bits, and hinged Tupperware boxes are. Total cost: $47.79 for two boxes with locks, plus a bonus cordless screwdriver. It would be a lot cheaper if you re-use existing Tupperware and already own a drill.
posted by pie ninja at 6:33 AM on April 17, 2014

OH and I missed the preview window, but a lot of zippered lunch boxes have two zippers that come together (like luggage) and you can lock them together with a small lock.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:36 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

I was coming into say the same thing as Crystalinne. If you were looking for a more interesting lunch box, I own this Mr. Bento and if you use a luggage lock - it could be easily locked.
posted by Brent Parker at 6:43 AM on April 17, 2014

This lunch box should be lockable with this lock.
posted by Brent Parker at 6:49 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Of the ideas above, I like xingcat's medication box better than Grither's lockable lunch box, mainly because the medication box is opaque --- I suspect any opaque box will be less problematical than something that shows the contents: why entice the thief with a preview?!? Also, that cage thing says its sides 'snap together', which makes me suspect the solid metal box will last longer and be more secure.

Consider also getting a small padlock & chain: something you can loop through your locking box's handle and secure it to the refridgerator shelf! The problem with lunchroom thieves is that it's a crime of opportunity, and you want to stop them by securing the whole box in such a way that any attempted theft would be really, really obvious and time-consuming.
posted by easily confused at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Depending on the size you're after, a lockable dry box or even a small tool box would work well. A cheapo lock will seal either of these.

A bit industrial perhaps, but we use these as an assurance for legal samples.
posted by bonehead at 6:54 AM on April 17, 2014

I'd just keep it at your desk. As much as I like the idea of thumbing your nose at the thief with a lock box in the fridge, that just seems like it's destined to create more drama with accusations of you not trusting your coworkers, or that you are over reacting, or whatever.
posted by COD at 7:00 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Something to keep in mind - there are a lot of people out there who either don't have a desk or work someplace where food is not allowed at desks.

And OP mentioned wanting to keep a stash in the fridge for random snacks so bringing one in every day wouldn't work in their case.
posted by bowmaniac at 7:30 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

you are angry because you're being victimized by a thief and forced to take time out of your day to play defense, spend money on a lockbox and ask questions on the internet. the best adversarial posture is a mix of defense and offense.

you know those big stuffed cocktail olives? imagine what would happen if the thief bit into one with a piece of bhut jolokia pepper inside, or, an entire dead cockroach deftly concealed with a little blue cheese at each end. they would be in a little orphan tupperware container for plausible deniability. when the scream from the lunchroom reaches your cube, it will be a tonic for your flagging spirits.
posted by bruce at 7:33 AM on April 17, 2014 [21 favorites]

My suggestion would be to buy a small lunchbox with two zippers, like this one. You can affix a small padlock between the two zippers to keep would be cheese thieves from opening it up and helping themselves to it.
posted by PearlRose at 7:41 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I used to use lunchboxes with fitted ice packs, I bought mine from here, and I think they should be available through amazon too. I'm sorry you have to deal with this.
posted by 9000condiments at 8:02 AM on April 17, 2014

A small sign on your lunch box that says something like "Friends, I'm on a specific medication (has to be eaten with food) that I inject into my cheese. I just wanted you to be aware."
posted by HuronBob at 8:02 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ha ha HuronBob, I was going to say to buy a bag, leave it out on the counter for a month, and then put it in the fridge. They're wrapped in that waxy stuff.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:08 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

So far I think I'm leaning towards the idea of a zippered lunch bag with two zips that I can padlock like luggage - but thank you all for the suggestions! (And the laughs. It helped pull me out of my cranky mood.)
posted by thereemix at 8:32 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking of Passive Aggressive Notes.

Food thieves are a scourge. Someone stole my delicious gluten-free, deli rye bread. I'm still angry about it!

Here's a locking game box that has a combination AND it seems to be the right size.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:33 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ooh Ruthless I really like that one!
posted by thereemix at 8:49 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe use this as your lunchbox? Probably need to add an opaque lid but you might get away without a lock then.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:57 AM on April 17, 2014

Just a small FYI, a zippered bag that's locked shut can still be opened with a pen, but hopefully your cheese thief won't go to such lengths since it becomes pretty obvious.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:05 AM on April 17, 2014

Another option for under $100 would be to get a tiny desk fridge!
posted by mjcon at 9:48 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I like Pelican cases, and use them for lots of stuff. They're indestructable and lockable.
posted by nevercalm at 10:35 AM on April 17, 2014

Get some cheapo, small, and not too powerful springs from your favorite local hardware/construction shop. Take a picture of your delicious cheeses in a flat pile/lot. Glue one end of the springs to the bottom of your current (and recognized as the cheese guy's) box. Coat springs in dry glitter and/or confetti. Paste picture to inside of tupperware box lid. Secure the lid (making sure that you got springs that won't pre-maturely force the lid off).

Return to the fridge when you hear expressions of alarm and consternation.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:35 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think people are less likely to take things from a zippered bag - especially if they can't see what's inside. Time rummaging increases possibility of getting caught.

I don't know what your work environment is like, but ...

I have never and would never take someone else's food from a work fridge. But I would absolutely screw with an elaborate system set up to protect cheese. It would likely turn into a who-screwed-with-it-best contest. (I'm a bad person and once put my boss's new $90,000 Mercedes on eBay.)

So get a zippered bag, push it toward the back and maybe put a note on the outside that it's medication. Just don't let it ruin your day more than it already has. Some people are just assholes.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2014

In general, I've been fortunate enough to work with all-around decent people who are not food-stealing degenerates. But one situation in which my food has disappeared has been when I've have a stash of identical items, such that I take my coke from the fridge and replace it on the same shelf with a warm coke from the box under my desk. To an outside observer, it looks like there's been a single coke sitting in the fridge for months on end. Why not just drink it? So, there's a purpose for putting a note in the box - not to say "you jerk, you stole my cheese", but just drop a card in there every Monday with the date on it, to reassure the world that these cheeses are loved and will be missed.
posted by aimedwander at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh man, I hate when that happens. Someone once threw out my curry I had brought for lunch. I have no idea why. It was in a sealed container, it wasn't smelly or anything. It was just a ziplock container and some jerkoff threw it out. I was beyond pissed because it had been delicious curry I had fuck off else to eat so I went hungry the rest of the day. Plus, I believe it was also "lady time" so the hormones were making me even more hungry and ragey than normal.

My "solution" was to write a very long poem (I think it was like 9 stanzas) about how jerkish it was to throw someone else's food away, how hungry I now am, how delicious that curry would have been, I never thought someone in my office could stoop so low etc. and then posted it in the office kitchen. People thought it was great. I felt better because I got my anger out and got to express it in a pseudo-humorous-but-totally-serious office appropriate kind of way.

and no joke, that was 5 years ago and I haven't heard of ANYONE having their food taken or thrown out since that poem. The poem is long gone, but the message it sent remains.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

The "no more tears" food code where I work goes like this:

If the package (cookies, etc) is open and unattended, it's meant for sharing. If you don't mean this, put it in your desk drawer or backpack or something.

Anything left in the fridge and not taken home at the end of the day is for sharing. Bring only one day's worth, this isn't your second house.

Your lunch should be somehow gathered in a single package in the fridge, such as in a tied up plastic grocery bag. Loose items are not fair game, but might be mistaken for something up for sharing per paragraph 1 or 2.

If unsure, ask. But this is a pretty easy-going, sharey kind of place, so people don't think to ask as much as you might think.

The code also makes keeping the fridge clean easier.
posted by ctmf at 7:43 PM on April 17, 2014

Sorry, never got to the point. If someone's stealing your food, your lockable box might work. But if they took it by mistake, you might not be following the accepted practice, or they came from a place with a different practice. Fixing that, if that's the case, wouldn't cost you $100.
posted by ctmf at 7:51 PM on April 17, 2014

Start storing repackaged laxative chocolate in your lunch box.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:54 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

ctmf no one is taking my food "by mistake". I store my cheese snacks in a Tupperware box WITH MY NAME ON IT in the shelf on the inside of the fridge door, out of the way and taking up very little space. Its the only thing I keep in there and is clearly labeled with my name. I am not the only one in my office who brings food from home to store in the fridge this way (labeled with names) and my office is not an easy-going sharing-is-caring kind of place. There is a jerk who is intentionally stealing my food.

To the rest of you, thanks again! :)
posted by thereemix at 3:28 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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