What Your Fridge Says About You

What lies inside this appliance speaks volumes. borzywoj/Shutterstock.com

Not long ago, when Twitter's new livestreaming app Periscope debuted, people couldn't stop showing off the contents of their refrigerators. Viewers were mesmerized by salacious peeks inside a stranger's crisper drawer or soda shelf. They wanted to know what was in the freezer or tucked in the hidden dairy trays.

Which leads us to ask, what's in your fridge?

How well- or ill-stocked your refrigerator is can reveal a lot about your personality — or at least some of your health habits, say nutritionists. We asked a couple of them to weigh in on some common fridge profiles to tell us what it reveals about the owners' personalities and how they might be able to change for the better.

Packed with frozen dinners and convenience foods

roast beef TV dinner

This is usually a single male or a super-busy young professional, says St. Louis-based registered dietitian Marilyn Tanner-Blaiser, study coordinator at the Washington University School of Medicine. "I think of the times when I was working my tail off and just throwing one of those in the microwave was so much easier," she says. "These are time-crunched people that are so busy that they don’t have time to prepare or the energy to think about preparing a meal." They may also be people who never learned how to cook, she says — or maybe they just don't care all that much about how things taste.

How to fix it

When you buy frozen dinners, buy some extra bags of frozen vegetables while you're at it, suggests Jessica Crandall RDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Add another cup of frozen vegetables on top of the vegetables in your microwave meal," she says. "We all know we need to work on our vegetable consumption and that's one easy way to do it."

Frozen veggies can be as healthy as fresh as long as you don't buy them with added sauces or condiments — plus they don't go rotten and ignored in the crisper drawer. Portion control helps, too. Having a not-so-healthy pot pie? Cut your portion in half and add a heaping portion of vegetables.

Lots of take-out containers and drawers filled with soy packets

carryout containers

Again, these are busy people who don't have the time, energy or interest in cooking, says Tanner-Blaiser. The difference is that they have the money so they can afford to eat out more often.

How to fix it

If you're going to order takeout, at least be smart about it, says Crandall. If you order pizza, ask for half the cheese and meat and pair it with a side salad. When ordering Chinese, double up on vegetables, ask for brown rice and get those sauces on the side.

But if you're going to the trouble of heading somewhere to pick up dinner, think about stopping by the hot, prepared food section of your grocery store. In the same amount of time it takes to wait in a carryout line, you can pick up grilled fish or chicken and steamed veggies, says Tanner-Blaiser.

Almost completely empty

nearly empty refrigerator

Check the pantry. If there's no food in the fridge, Tanner-Blaiser says, that often means people are relying on processed canned and packaged foods that last a lot longer. Again, the folks who live here are often really busy people who don't have much time to go to the grocery store or to cook.

How to fix it

Some grocery stores deliver, so order online to stock your fridge. But if you're going to rely on your pantry, fill it with some healthy staples that can be the foundation for some simple meals. Crandall says it's important to have whole grains (brown rice, pasta) for easy dinners: just add frozen vegetables. Canned tomatoes and canned beans can be combined with a whole-grain wrap for a quick and healthy burrito.

To avoid reaching for chips when you're hungry, make a fresh veggie tray and put it front and center in your fridge and place a bowl of fresh fruit on your counter. You'll be more enticed to eat those healthy foods than if they're hiding in some dark refrigerator drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. Finally, it's not terrible to have some healthy protein bars in the pantry. "It's better to have good nutrition than no nutrition at all," says Crandall.

Organized, labeled meals

organized and labeled freezer meals

"These are usually accountants or engineers," jokes Tanner-Blaiser who says she once knew a man who had two weeks of menus that he rotated like clockwork. She also knew a dietitian who labeled all her food and had a map of where everything went in the fridge.

"That personality is so organized and that can be a very good thing — as long as those foods are healthy and they're enjoying the taste of their food."

How to fix it

What's to fix, asks Tanner-Blaiser? "Although sometimes it's fun to relax and fly by the seat of your pants!"

Expired, moldy grossness everywhere

rusted refrigerator sitting outside

"They're maybe a little too laid-back," Tanner-Blaiser jokes. "These folks just need a cleanout. Maybe they can invite their friends over with the hyper-organized freezer to help or they can just throw everything out."

She suggests visiting homefoodsafety.org for safe food handling tips. For example, when's the last time you checked out that sliced turkey? "Lunch meat is something people from all walks of life let sit too long in their refrigerator," says Tanner-Blaiser. "You should eat it within five days or toss it."

How to fix it

Now that your fridge is clean, don’t let it get disgusting again. There are all sorts of options for real food that won't require much effort. Try slow cooker meals that only require a handful of ingredients, go to a spot like DreamDinners where you prepare a week's worth of meals all at once and freeze them, or order fresh-ingredient pre-made meals via home delivery.

Loads of fresh fruits and veggies

refrigerator full of fresh fruits and vegetables

This is obviously a healthy person, says Tanner-Blaiser. "They have to be super-organized to pull that off and be able to pull together meals every day," she points out. "They're probably frequently fliers to the store to keep that produce stock fresh."

How to fix it

It's perfect. Go eat a cookie.