House calendar and groceries bank: two simple improvements for The Reef Brussels

I would like to suggest we adopt two technologies for improving communal living in The Reef BXL.

1. House calendar

We are always coming and going. Several times a week you find yourself asking “can anyone be home on Tuesday at 8.30 to open the door for a guest?” or “how many people are going to be at Thursday’s house dinner?”. I would like to have an online calendar to function as a timeline for life in the house. It would keep track of:

  • When people are travelling.
  • Guests and occupancy of the guest room(s).
  • Events, like our Sunday brunches, dinners etc.

There are three problems with this. The first one is that it assumes everyone is on the same platform, or at least people are on interoperable platforms. I am no expert on calendar standards: most Reef stuff is currently on Google, but that’s not necessarily ideal (not open source).

The second one is that we need to decide how closely to integrate the House calendar with the work calendar. That’s another former non-issue that, paradoxically, emerged as we Edgeryders-the-company folks moved closer to each other. Just two weeks ago I was struggling to schedule a meeting in Brussels because I wanted to include @noemi, but I realised I had no idea of her travelling schedule except that it was very busy right until the end of September.

The third one is privacy. I guess the house calendar should be private.

2. Groceries bank

When Noemi moved in, the three of us started sharing all of the food supplies. We will see if our next housemate, David will also want to be part of this. I propose a jar in the kitchen with grocery money: we each put 50 EUR in, then anyone doing groceries picks up cash from it. When it’s empty, we refill. I think this is a simple way to ensure we are sharing fairly, and to keep track of how much we are spending on food.

To prevent any disagreement, we can make this simple low tech more robust by adding two things:

  1. We keep receipts in the same jar for a week or so before throwing them away. People can choose to look at them if they are in doubt as to what was bought. Exception: market stalls here are exempt from issuing receipts.
  2. We exclude certain “luxury” items from the sharing. If I really want Alba truffles or Möet & Chandon, I’ll have to pay for them myself.

What do people think? @nadia, Noemi?


Yes to 1)…

Yes to 2) with I would add some encouragements: one is to consider avoiding food waste and therefore not buying i.e. for the whole house for a week, or perishable food that you dont intend to eat or cook yourself in the next week.
I tend to get neurotic when the fridge is loaded and stuff gets lost because it’s just a lot of food to be eaten. The second is to buy plastic free to the extent we can. There is a list we can agree on that we only get plastic free - from dried fruit and seeds, to cereals and rice, and jams and coffee etc.

Hope this helps,


We need the encouragement regardless. If anything, using “common money” will encourage us to keep to “common rules”. Even though “common money” is still our own money. People are funny that way.

Do you take into account possible extremities in who eats what and how much? Not luxury items, but I’m thinking of friend parties where there are people who don’t drink. They pay for the common drinks, while all they drink is water. Or meat related. Or dessert related. It’s definitely a source of discussion when there’s abstentions like this, as it can add up.

And then there’s the cycling guy who eats 5,000 calories per day. Or the fitness fans.

I think it’s important for there to be a certain level of compatibility in habits to begin with.

In theory you are right, @winnieponcelet, but in practice it’s critical to keep overhead low. None of us really drinks, so we can exclude alcohol straight off. And for the rest, any fitness buff can simply say “hey, I eat 5K calories a day, I’ll put in 110-120 EUR for each of your 100.” And then it’s fine.

Most staple foods are cheap enough not to worry about. A kilo of carrots costs 1-1.50 EUR…

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Agreed, it’s usually the route I take: the argument, or extra calculations, are not worth those extra 10 euros.

  1. yes

About #2.

I think what does make sense is something slightly different. The system we were using in the restaurant worked like this. At the end of one week would choose the recipes for the next week - this would give us a list of groceries with exactly the right ingredients and quantities for the number of people who plan to be in the house. E.g. if someone is travelling it’s less, if we have guests it’s more. We then organise it so that people pick the days that they want to do kitchen duty and they prepare the meals either the evening before or the same day. This saves everyone time and it ensures we have no food waste. It also means we can keep a the food budget to a level that works for everyone by choosing appropriate recipes.


Seems super-effective but heavy on the overhead. Weekly meetings, then a “flight plan”… what if on Wednesday some people decide on a whim to go out for Lebanese instead of eating the steamed broccoli? :confused:

well, you will never be able to gauge exactly what will happen. My guessstimate is that we will still get alot less food waste this way. Any left overs can be used for the thursday house dinner - we just have to invite more people to help eat it :slight_smile:

No need for weekly meetings. Each person puts together their menus for their days (you can actually search online for good recipes based on budget) and sticks ingredients in the google doc for shopping. Whoever goes to do the groceries first picks the stuff up and keeps receipts. Come end of month costs are deducted from their rent.