How would you feel if a stranger peeked inside your fridge today? Would they see a buffet of fresh fruit and vegetables on top of sparkling clean shelves, or a collection of empty drawers with little more than a bottle of wine or two?
Three brave women opened up their fridge-freezers to be analysed by Dr Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancaster and director of The Mind Training Clinic. See what she had to say about their lifestyles and habits – and decide which fridge personality most reflects your own…
The laid-back cook
Gabby, 52, from Manchester
‘I live just outside of Manchester,’ says Gabby. ‘I live with my husband and youngest child who’s about to go away to university. Our other two gorwn-up children visit some days. My mother also lives with us in an annex.
Staples in my fridge-freezer include everything you’d expect from meat, cheese, butter and jars of opened sauces and condiments, and leftover food and drinks – as well as all my nail varnishes! Treats include ice creams. I don’t keep eggs in the fridge.’
‘Gabby is fairly relaxed when it comes to eating and organisation. The contents of her fridge reflect this laid-back attitude, with its mix of healthy items and treats, and ready-made and homemade meals.
I suspect Gabby is rather fun to be around – her priority seems to be more geared to enjoying life than worrying about everything being just so. That is not to say that she lives a chaotic life, but she isn’t obsessive about details. She’s probably happy to cut corners when necessary.
She appears to follow healthy eating and likes to prepare food herself – but is happy to indulge sometimes and try new things.’
The always prepared cook
Jacqui, 49, from Milton Keynes
‘I live with my partner Rob. My Fisher & Paykel fridges are huge and are rarely full, as it is only the two of us at home, but we have three grown-up children between us that pop in if they’re hungry!
Healthy food normally resides in the fridge. You’ll always find Alpro soya yogurt and coconut milk drink as neither Rob nor I like cow’s milk. There is normal milk for visitors, though. There’s usually some salmon or other fish in there, and some cheese. We love salad and vegetables, so there’s always a good mix – this week it’s aubergine and kale. We make fresh juices, so there’s always a selection of veg, salad and fruit to throw in the juicer.
The freezers have ice cream and lollies for the hungry children or little nieces and nephews that pop in. We also keep bread in the freezer as we don’t eat lots of it and we can just grab a slice as we want it. I also batch cook as we are away a lot, so the freezer has a homemade tikka masala sauce and lasagnes in there, and slices of homemade madeira cake.
The other food you’ll always find in the freezer are peas as Rob loves them. As a treat, I love pink Champagne and the bottles are a funny shape, so they live in one side of the fridge as they won’t fit in the wine storage. We love savoury treats, too, so usually there are some olives along with hummus and crudities.’
‘Jacqui is very organised and her motto is most likely Be Prepared. She has probably learned to be like this with having various family members around who pop in unexpectedly.
She likes a healthy lifestyle and her food choices clearly reflect this, with plenty of fresh food and home cooked meals, which she is clearly keen to maintain even when she lacks the time to cook, as her freezer reflects. She is probably a great hostess as she not only likes to consider all the food preferences of her guests, but is also not too rigid in her own eating plan to slip in the odd treat such as champagne or cake.
Despite her organisational skills, the fridge is rather sparse. This shows that she has self-control that stops her buying more perishable food than she needs. I imagine she doesn’t end up throwing much out, as many families do.’
The play it safe cook
Nicola, 50, Hertfordshire
‘I live with my husband, 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, plus our dog. My fridge tends to contain lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and salad stuff. I always have milk, eggs, yogurt and cheese, plus fresh meat and fruit juice. I can’t live without Hellman’s mayonnaise! I also keep alcohol in the fridge and the odd bit of chocolate when the weather is warm.
The freezer tends to have standbys such as oven chips, frozen veg and herbs, and fresh fruit picked from the garden. It also contains ice cream and the odd frozen ready meal.’
‘Nicola is also laid-back when it comes to food choices, with a clear determination to feed her family healthily but with a nod to the fact that sometimes corners must be cut to stay sane.
Her fridge is full but well organised with a few cling-filmed leftovers nestling among shop-bought items.
The fridge’s contents are rather standard and perhaps lack excitement, which may suggest Nicola isn’t a great experimenter in the kitchen. Perhaps she has meals she likes to produce each week, knowing they will keep everyone happy.
Nicola is probably not a great risk-taker in life, either – preferring to be safe and predicable where possible, which can make her very reliable, a quality that is probably admired by her friends.’