What gesture is equivalent to a week of free meals?
June 9, 2006 3:00 AM   Subscribe

How do I show my appreciation for housemates who've cooked me several nice meals in a row, when I can't cook and I'm too poor to take them to dinner?

I'm living in a houseshare with two guys I'd never met until a couple of weeks ago. This past week was terribly hectic for me, and my housemates generously made dinner for me every night (some of them quite involved and fancy). I want to show my appreciation, but I'm not sure how. I am a lousy cook, and I am really living on pocket change at this time. Normally I'd buy them dinner out or a couple of nice bottles of wine, but I simply can't afford it.

I've offered to do the washing up after each meal, but these gentlemen insist that I relax in my few hours off. For people I don't know at all, they've been incredibly kind, and I want to do something for them. Any ideas?
posted by scarylarry to Human Relations (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Clean the public areas of the house without being asked to, and ideally without even mentioning it. You'll get the satisfaction of knowing you've done something nice, and they get to enjoy a clean house. And honour is served on both sides.
posted by talitha_kumi at 3:13 AM on June 9, 2006

Short term: write them thank-you notes. They'll be touched.

Long term: learn to cook a few basic things at least. If you can read, tell time and dress yourself, you can make a decent meal. That way you'll be able to return the favor when the time comes.
posted by teleskiving at 3:54 AM on June 9, 2006

Make them some simple dessert like that 'cheesecakeyou do in the fridge.

Or buy some fresh fruit to put on the table.
posted by lunkfish at 4:32 AM on June 9, 2006

chores, like cleaning the bathroom, stove and fridge are always appreciated, as is beer!
posted by chelseagirl at 4:50 AM on June 9, 2006

Buy ingredients. You have some food budget, so make some effort to bring in some food for them. Presumably you'll live here for a while. When your schedule is more settled, make sure you do some household tasks, like cleaning the fridge or the oven.
posted by theora55 at 5:00 AM on June 9, 2006

How about washing their cars or pulling weeds/doing work in the garden (if applicable)? Long term you could take up gardening and ensuring that there are fresh flowers in the home. Gardening is cheap if you learn how to sow seeds. You could also go with some fresh flowers from the grocery store (<$5) as a thank you gift.
posted by crazycanuck at 5:15 AM on June 9, 2006

I second the recommendation that you clean the house up. I'm sure they've already got some cleaning products, if not, get something that you can use in the kitchen and bathroom, and a couple brushes or sponges or something. Clean the kitchen and bathroom, and if they have private bathrooms you could even offer to clean those, too. Little or no investment beyond time and elbow grease.
posted by MrZero at 5:35 AM on June 9, 2006

Thankyou notes are always appreciated. Also, doing the washing up when you're not asked to will generally go a long way toward ensuring household harmony.

If you're really chummy, you might offer to do their laundry as well, but that's only if you don't mind being on a first-name basis with their underpants.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:37 AM on June 9, 2006

Here's a couple of things that come to mind:
  • give your house a spring clean
  • ask them if there's anything they need a hand with
  • plan and take them both on a good, interesting walk
  • make them some soup! Everyone loves soup, it's really easy and you could make enough so they have it for their lunch during the week too!
  • if you've got a garden, do some gardening and clean up the front of your house
  • make them both breakfast one morning (pancakes are easy!)

posted by xpermanentx at 6:02 AM on June 9, 2006

I second two ideas - write them each a thank you note, and do a communal chore(s) of your choice (vacuum, clean the bathroom, whatever).
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:01 AM on June 9, 2006

I would second the cleaning. Sounds like you have some great friends, if you cherish it, you'll do what's right.
posted by BillyG at 7:40 AM on June 9, 2006

How about work outside, maybe cleaning the yard, putting in some flowers, something like that. If they already have a garden (and if you know what a weed would look like), then maybe weeding?

Sweeping the walk/driveway?
posted by amtho at 8:15 AM on June 9, 2006

Cleaning would definitely be appreciated! If you need to do it on the cheap, a thorough cleaning can be done with common food items and household ingredients (always trust the guy with the biggest beard). Through in a couple of homemade thank you notes and I think your gratitude will be shown.
posted by marxfriedrice at 8:26 AM on June 9, 2006

Help them make the food in the first place. You'll learn how to cook. You'll be doing everyone a favor. Cooking isn't hard, you just need the right ingredients around, and someone to show you a few things.
posted by jon_kill at 9:02 AM on June 9, 2006

If you eventually want to make a mini-foray into cooking, look for a recipe that doesn't actually involve heat. I am a terrible (and nervous) cook and my biggest problem/fear is trying to tell when something is "done". Something like a pudding recipe that involves instant pudding, or a no-bake cheesecake would do the trick. (I have a great banana pudding recipe if you'd like, email radioamy at gmail dot com)
posted by radioamy at 9:34 AM on June 9, 2006

Are they single? Have any single friends? You can vouch to your single friends that they are nice and have a talent for cooking!
posted by ontic at 10:07 AM on June 9, 2006

Elbow grease is free. N+1 to the idea of cleaning common areas while they're gone, and also writing them notes saying how welcomed they've made you feel, and how much you appreciate their unsolicited kindness.

Cause I gotta say, these guys sound like pretty awesome roommates.
posted by Hildago at 11:48 AM on June 9, 2006

1) Do the dishes (crappy food-related job, takes time, not usually what the people who cook want to do after eating)
2) Do the grocery shopping - they can pick the ingredients, you do the leg work and the bulk of/all of the buying...
posted by whatzit at 7:42 PM on June 9, 2006

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