enneagram home cook collage
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How to Be a Better, Happier Cook Based on Your Enneagram Type

published Jan 24, 2021
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What if I told you that becoming a better, happier cook could be as simple as knowing more about yourself and what your blockers are in the kitchen? In the past when I’ve made a resolution to improve my cooking skills, I’ve found myself knee-deep in new tools and cookbooks, only to end up with a drawer that won’t shut and the same old kitchen-avoiding tendencies. Don’t get me wrong — a new chef’s knife can do wonders, but sometimes to really enjoy cooking you need to go a little deeper. This is where the centuries-old system of the Enneagram can help. I’ll show you how your unique personality type shows up in the kitchen so that you can make positive changes in your cooking habits.

A little bit about me: I’m Sarajane Case, creator of the Instagram account Enneagram & Coffee, author of The Honest Enneagram — a new kind of Enneagram book that focuses on growth through compassionate curiosity. I also host the Enneagram & Coffee podcast.

What Is the Enneagram?

If you haven’t heard of the Enneagram, it’s time that the two of you meet. The Enneagram is a self-awareness map developed by generations of psychotherapists that identifies nine distinct personality types. Each type describes a unique worldview. Essentially, it’s who we think we have to be in order to be loved, accepted, safe, etc. For most of us, this has been so innate that we didn’t realize others weren’t living from that place as well. For example, if you’ve lived your whole life tending to the needs of others, it can be a real wake-up call when you realize that everyone else doesn’t prioritize the same thing. 

If you are unsure of your Enneagram type, I encourage you to read each of the types in my book, The Honest Enneagram, or online at The Enneagram Institute and focus on the basic fears and motivations. There’s also a free test available on Truity. When you read your type, you are likely to quickly know it’s you. It feels a bit like having your journal read aloud — both invigorating and exposing. If you find yourself stuck between two different types you can check out the enneagram and coffee typing workshop to decipher between the two. 

Each type is associated with a number, a title, and a set of basic fears and core motivations. We’ll dive further into the types below, but for now here is the overview. 

  • Type 1: The Perfectionist
  • Type 2: The Helper
  • Type 3: The Achiever
  • Type 4: The Individualist
  • Type 5: The Investigator
  • Type 6: The Loyalist
  • Type 7: The Enthusiast
  • Type 8: The Challenger
  • Type 9: The Peacemaker

The Enneagram is actually quite practical if you think about it. We live our lives as if we have to be a certain kind of person and therefore we over-focus on certain areas and under-focus on others. When we’re able to get deep into this concept, we can see how that not only limits us, but also how we can work WITH it to do more of what we want to be doing. 

Below, I’m going to walk you through each type, what could be preventing you from being a better, happier cook, and some tips for improving your time in the kitchen this year.

Credit: From left to right: Kitchn, Shutterstock, Getty

Type 1: The Perfectionist

  • Also known as: The reformer or the moralist.  
  • Basic desire: “I want to be a good person, to have balance, to live in my integrity.” 
  • Basic fear: “I’m afraid of being a bad person — of being evil or corrupt.” 
  • Super ego message: “Most of my life I’ve believed that I’ll be okay if I just do the right thing.” 

Type 1s are disciplined and discerning. They learned somewhere along the way that the world is corrupt and it’s their duty to mend it by always doing the right thing. They tend to view the world in black and white. They value fairness, justice, and order. Type 1s reject their natural impulse toward pleasure — even if it’s a victimless enjoyment. There’s almost a natural rejection to the animalistic side of being human, and some of their impulses are ultimately repressed.  

Type 1s are hardworking, honest, organized, structured, and probably one of the best people you know.

In the Kitchen with Type 1s 

Where they thrive: Type 1s likely do an amazing job of cleaning as they go, having a weekly meal plan, and knowing the best way to do different tasks. They aren’t afraid of doing the hard work. 

Their struggle: Because they are so dutiful, Type 1s may lose sight of the pleasure of cooking. They may feel as though there is a “right” way to eat and prepare a meal, and feel shame if they can’t live up to their own high ideals. Type 1s often feel that if something is going to be done right, it has to be done by them. Embracing more of the gray area and a little bit of messiness will allow them to share the workload with those wanting to offer support.

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 1 and want to become a better, happier cook, I encourage you to combine the act of cooking with other things that you love, and take what can feel like a “duty” and turn it into self-care. Light a candle, turn on your favorite music (or podcast or TV show), taste as you go, smell the ingredients, and really enjoy the process. Bonus points if you can work out a deal with a partner or housemate where you cook and they clean (even if their cleaning style isn’t how you would do it yourself).

Credit: From left to right: Shutterstock, Getty, Shutterstock

Type 2: The Helper

  • Also known as: The giver and the lover. 
  • Basic desire: “It’s important to me that I’m liked.”
  • Basic fear: “What if no one ever loves me as I am?” 
  • Super ego message: “I often believe that I am as worthy as I am loveable — that my worth is related to how wanted I am.” 

Type 2s are helpful, generous, warm, and loving. They learned somewhere along the way that love is earned through what we do for other people, and they tend to see the world as a sea of emotional temperatures. They pick up on the energy that people share and adjust their own behavior to meet the needs they perceive in the room. This impulse to serve isn’t necessarily conscious. In fact, for most Type 2s it’s second nature to step in and meet the needs of someone else —  especially if it’s someone they don’t know very well. 

Type 2s are considerate, patient, gracious, forgiving, and are likely the person who makes you feel the most loved in your life.

In the Kitchen with Type 2s  

Where they thrive: Type 2s anticipate the needs of those they’re around. In the kitchen, this may mean that they have all of their loved one’s favorite recipes memorized, and that they regularly customize meals based on individual needs.

Their struggle: Because Type 2s are so focused on the needs of others, they may lose sight of their own desires. It’s likely that they spend most of their time in the kitchen considering what others want and need — even if they’re not being asked to do so. This can lead to resentment when it’s not reciprocated or thoroughly appreciated. It can also cause cooking burnout because Type 2s put all of their energy into making meals that others will like instead of considering what they would enjoy.

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 2 and want to become a better, happier cook, I encourage you to get a little selfish. Ask yourself what three things would make you feel better about cooking this year, and communicate those needs with the people in your life. This sounds easy enough, but for most Type 2s that’s a giant mountain to climb. Being vulnerable enough to ask for what you need is a tricky but worthwhile process. Sometimes the relief to your suffering is actually just a request away. Maybe for you that’s having the kitchen to yourself for an hour to cook in peace, or maybe it’s cooking one meal for everyone in the family no matter taste or preference, or maybe it’s having one night where you cook a meal that makes you excited no matter how anyone else feels. I know this may be a complicated shift for you, so a simple and equitable way to approach this could be to ask each person in your household to pick a night to request their preferred dinner — and that includes you. Bonus points if your housemates cook on their nights when possible.

Credit: From left to right: Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Getty

Type 3: The Achiever

  • Also known as: The performer and the motivator.  
  • Basic desire: “It’s important to me that I am accepted and viewed as worthwhile.”
  • Basic fear: “What if I’m only as worthy as what I can achieve?”
  • Super ego message: “I believe I will be okay as long as I am constantly achieving new things.”

Type 3s are driven, motivated, and goal-oriented. They learned somewhere along the way that their worth is determined by what they can achieve. They are aware of where they stand in comparison to other people, and they focus on always doing better and achieving more. Type 3s are skilled at engaging with others. They can read body language, take the temperature of a room, and get a general feeling for how they can show up to be both liked and impressive. Type 3s have very high standards for themselves and what they must accomplish — although it’s often not their own ideals that drive this. Many 3s adopt their desires from society, their immediate family, or even their close friends. The focus becomes less on their personal agenda and more on what “successful” looks like from a cultural perspective. 

Type 3s are inspiring, accomplished, capable, and likely the person who makes you want to do more, be more, and dream bigger! 

In the Kitchen with Type 3s  

Where they thrive: Type 3s are productive, efficient, and they enjoy multitasking. They are also typically on the cutting edge of new technology. Type 3s may be the first of your friends to buy an air fryer and perfect their first recipe. They’re also goal-oriented, so if there’s a skill that they lack they’re likely to do their research and practice until they’ve nailed it.

Their struggle: Because Type 3s work so hard at being the best in every area of their life, they may find themselves exhausted by the end of the day or even for long periods of time. For example, they could go months cooking every meal at home, and then suddenly crash and order takeout for the next several weeks. Type 3s need to conserve their energy, and determine which areas of growth are a priority at this time vs. trying to grow in all areas at once.

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 3, I encourage you to either lower your expectations for what successful means to you OR keep learning new skills that intimidate you. Lowering your expectations will sound counterintuitive to most Type 3s, but that’s often what gets you in trouble. With high expectations you are more inclined to go full throttle and then crash versus creating sustained habits over time. If you want to be a better, happier cook you should prioritize sustainability in your process. Choose a goal that feels easy to meet and commit to that. In addition, if you learn a new technique or recipe once a week or once a month that challenges you, it will keep you engaged. You thrive with a challenge and with a mountain to climb. Give yourself fun new obstacles to overcome so that you can keep your motivation high.

Credit: From left to right: Shutterstock, Stocksy, Stocksy

Type 4: The Individualist

  • Also known as: The romantic and the artist.   
  • Basic desire: “It’s important to me that I find an identity that expresses the truth of who I am and helps me find my significance.” 
  • Basic fear: “What if I am not significant in any way?” 
  • Super ego message: “The most important thing for me is to always be true to who I am.” 

Type 4s are deep, expressive, and nostalgic. They often felt different or rejected by their family of origin. This creates a deep desire in 4s to not only be understood, but to also find their personal significance. Type 4s tend to focus on what is missing. They see themselves as fundamentally flawed and often turn that internal experience into an external representation of being different or unique. Type 4s walk through the world with the belief that everyone else seems to have something that they don’t. They channel this energy into things like gumption to work ethic to charisma to anything else under the sun. Through this belief they may find themselves feeling easily defeated. There can be a “Why try if I’m only going to mess it up anyway?” approach to things. 

Type 4s are emotionally in tune, aesthetically gifted, authentic, romantic, idealistic, and have a beautiful ability to see the world as living art. 

In the Kitchen with Type 4s  

Where they thrive: Type 4s are sensory seekers, meaning that when they cook they are likely to take it all in. They smell the ingredients, enjoy the process of cutting vegetables, and daydream of being the lead in a cooking-themed romance film based in a quaint European village. They’re also driven by things being beautiful, so they may be more inclined to use high-quality ingredients and take their time to make something truly special. 

Their struggle: Because Type 4s struggle with the idea of being average, they may be a little all-or-nothing in the kitchen. Either they make a magical meal with all of the ingredients and the perfect ambience or they may forget to eat at all. There may be some discomfort in the idea of a slow cooker meal thrown together with the ingredients they already have in the fridge. This is all well and good, except it’s not the most conducive to consistently showing up in the kitchen. They may want to do a little work around accepting that most meals are just there to feed us and SOMETIMES they’re perfect!

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 4 and want to be a better, happier cook this year, I  encourage you to give yourself lots of time in the kitchen. You enjoy things more when they can be savored. If the recipe says it will take one hour, gift yourself two. This can be something that you do every day when planning out your daily schedule, or it could be more effective to plan out your “average” meals throughout the week and give yourself one night to really make it special. Buy the ingredients for your special meal from the local organic market and give yourself a luxurious amount of time to prepare, cook, and enjoy. Bonus points if every other meal you make that week is something simple, affordable, and easy to put together. That will give you the balance you need to make this functional and special at the same time. 

Credit: From left to right: Shutterstock, Kitchn, Shutterstock

Type 5: The Investigator

  • Also known as: The thinker and the observer.  
  • Basic desire: “It’s important to me that I am capable, competent, and informed.”
  • Basic fear: “I fear being helpless, useless, or overwhelmed.”
  • Super ego message: “I know that I will be okay as long as I have something that I’ve truly mastered.”

Type 5s are analytical, observant, and insightful. They often feel that their needs were not met by their caregivers as kids, or they were consumed by the presence of their family of origin. Because of this, Type 5s feel like they need to meet their own needs in private by holding onto their time, money, or energy. Type 5s are intentional about managing both their resources and their energy levels, and make decisions to prevent their depletion. This is done not out of selfishness or stinginess, but because they think it is necessary to survive. They also have a drive to understand the world — a need to know the intricacies of life from all angles, and all timelines, and all explanations. These two pieces mean that Type 5s live life through the safety of their mind. They experience the world through research, thought, and curiosity. 

Type fives are inquisitive, economical, studious, self-sufficient, and likely the most informed person you know. 

In the Kitchen with Type 5s  

Where they thrive: In the kitchen Type 5s are likely to do their research before jumping into a new skill. Learning to bake bread? Instead of following a single recipe, Type 5s may choose to learn the science of bread baking first and then figure out what recipe is the best based on their research. They’re also economical, meaning that they may prefer to find the most affordable way to do things in the kitchen. Of all of the types, this is the one most likely to do the most with what they already have.

Their struggle: Because Type 5s spend a lot of their time managing their energy levels while cooking, cleaning, and tending to the needs of others, the kitchen might not be their happy place because it could feel very depleting. Most Type 5s want to have the kitchen to themselves, if not the entire home, while they prepare a meal. They may also prefer an “I cook, you clean” scenario, which allows them to put their energy into just one place. Another common hang-up for our 5s is stopping at the research phase of a project. This looks like deciding to bake bread, but settling for learning how to bake bread instead. It’s important to put a limit on the amount of research you do as a Type 5 before taking real action.

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 5, I would encourage you to prep all of the ingredients before you get started cooking a meal. This will minimize the amount of multitasking you have to do. Wash, dry, and chop your veggie; mix your sauces; compile your ingredients; and then start cooking. This won’t be the most time-effective way to do things, but it will give you the ability to focus on one thing at a time vs. feeling spread too thin. Another thing to keep in mind as a Type 5 is figuring out when to stop researching and take action. Decide ahead of time what things you want to know in order to start cooking, so you can recognize when enough is enough. It can be easy to jump head-first into the research rabbit hole, but if you want it to benefit your everyday life, you have to start somewhere.

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Type 6: The Loyalist

  •  Also known as: The skeptic and the guardian.   
  • Basic desire: “It’s important to me that I feel secure and supported.”
  • Basic fear: “I am fearful of being left out on my own — that I will be without support and guidance and won’t be able to survive without it.”
  • Super ego message: “I know that I will be okay as long as I know what is expected of me and make a point to follow through with those expectations.”

Type 6s are aware, loyal, and hardworking. They also often felt like they were unsafe as children and didn’t have adequate protection. From a young age, they learned to keep their eyes open to potential threats as a way to never get caught off-guard. Type 6s contain a conflicted relationship to authority. While they find comfort in having a system or a group that they belong to — a place where they always know what’s expected of them — they become rebellious when they don’t trust or respect that authority. Type 6s hold a continued awareness of potential threats or loss of safety. This can look like skepticism of new people, awareness of physical threats, or financial threats. While I wouldn’t say that Type 6s walk around frantic and anxious and uneasy, I would say they walk around with eyes wide open to what is present — and also what could happen.

Type 6s are prepared, community-oriented, engaging, and likely one of the most courageous people you know. 

In the Kitchen with Type 6s 

Where they thrive: Type 6s are consistent and reliable. They like to know what they are getting into before they get started. In the kitchen this can mean that they have a few meals that they’ve really nailed and prefer to keep in rotation. It can also mean that they’ve thought through the process from beginning to end and are fully prepared before cooking their meal. 

Their struggle: Because Type 6s focus so much on reliability, they may lose a bit of the adventurous side of cooking. Opting for familiar over new can limit their palate and the amount of fun that cooking can bring into their lives. One way to bring more fun into the kitchen is to pick one night a week where you switch things up and try a new recipe or ingredient.

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 6 and want to become a better, happier cook, I encourage you to grab a friend and meal prep together once a week. This doesn’t have to be in person — it can be over Zoom, or even just be a meal drop-off. You can each pick two recipes to make, and then share them so you’ll get to try four unique recipes for the week ahead. This will satisfy your social needs while also expanding your comfort zone just a bit. 

Credit: Getty

Type 7: The Enthusiast

  • Also known as: The multi-tasker and the wunderkind.  
  • Basic desire: “It’s important to me that I remain happy, satisfied, and fulfilled.”
  • Basic fear: “I am most afraid of being deprived and trapped in negative emotions.” 
  • Super ego message: “I know that I will be OK as long as I get my needs met.”

Type 7s are cheerful, fun-loving, and adventurous. In childhood, 7s learned to nurture themselves through staying entertained and choosing positive emotions. While there is a nice side to being able to care for yourself, it is often what creates a cycle of excessive indulgence for Type 7s. They spend a lot of their time focused on the next great experience in order to keep themselves occupied and entertained. 

Type 7s are curious, bold, fast learners, joyful, and often somewhat of a Renaissance person. 

In the Kitchen with Type 7s

Where they thrive: Type 7s are great at gamifying everything. They can turn any mundane task into a celebration or a challenge. In the kitchen this can mean they do a squat challenge while they blend a smoothie, or they try to beat their personal record of how fast they can peel a bunch of carrots. They’re also great multi-taskers, and keep  heir energy levels high enough to manage lots of moving pieces. Type 7s also have a general knowledge of a lot of things. This means they’ve probably taken a cooking class in a foreign country that’s given them enough knowledge to get by pretty well in the kitchen in that cuisine — if they do say so themselves.

Their struggle: Because Type 7s prioritize feeling fulfilled, they may opt out of the more mundane tasks in life. This could mean that they stay so busy that cooking is easily deprioritized. They may also rush through the process to get onto the next activity. This can cause them to cut corners or skip important steps. They also tend to keep their schedule really full — moving quickly from one task to another. They may even end up skipping time in the kitchen all together in favor of staying entertained. 

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 7 and want to become a better, happier cook, I encourage you to plan your meals out in advance and feed your overactive brain while you cook. Type 7s’ mind moves so quickly that it can be hard to stand still long enough to do just one thing at a time. If you listen to an audiobook, a podcast, or watch a YouTube video while you prepare your meal, you can stay more present while cooking instead of feeling like you need to rush through and get onto the next thing. Planning your meals out in advance will also help with decision fatigue. Make all of your cooking decisions at once for the week so that you aren’t frozen with indecision and end up allowing your busy schedule to consume your time to play chef.

Credit: Kitchn

Type 8: The Challenger

  • Also known as: The leader and the protector.  
  • Basic desire: “It’s important to me that I determine my own path in life.”
  • Basic fear: “I am most afraid of being harmed or controlled by others.” 
  • Super ego message: “I know that I will be okay as long as I remain strong and powerful.”

Type 8s are strong, charismatic leaders. In childhood, 8s often experience some form of betrayal. As a result, they feel the need to take care of themselves. Because of this, they learn to lean on their strength and hide their vulnerabilities to prevent being open and susceptible to further betrayal in the future. This can lead our 8s to develop a constant defensive stance. This can happen both in defense of themselves but also in defense of those in need.

Type 8s are bold, independent, honest, magnanimous, and likely the person who has continually pushed you to be more thoughtful, egalitarian, and driven in your own life.

In the Kitchen with Type 8s 

Where they thrive: Type 8s are competent and capable. In the kitchen this can mean that they easily take charge, know the lay of the land, and step comfortably into the role of head chef. They will likely have mastered a few of their favorite recipes and have clear opinions and preferences for the best way to get the job done.

Their struggle: Because Type 8s trust themselves so much and tend to lean very little on the skills of others, they may find it difficult to take a back seat and to know when to rest. It’s important that Type 8s get in touch with how they feel physically and emotionally on a regular basis so that they can really assess how much energy they have to give to their meals each day. Some days they may need to just let someone else take the reins so that they can more fully enjoy the days that they’re in charge.

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 8 and want to become a better, happier cook, I encourage you to pick one of your favorite restaurant dishes and dedicate a period of time to really mastering that dish at home. Type 8s thrive with a challenge and are great problem-solvers. This will continue to fuel your great love for cooking, while also giving you a place to channel some of your excess energy. 

Credit: Getty

Type 9: The Peacemaker

  • Also known as: The healer and the comforter.  
  • Basic desire: “It’s important to me that I maintain my peace of mind.”
  • Basic fear: “I worry about creating rifts with people in my life that cannot be repaired.”
  • Super ego message: “I know that I will be okay as long as those around me are okay.” 

Type 9s are empathetic and easygoing. In childhood, 9s learned that the best way to keep the peace was to minimize their own presence. They thought that if they were to speak up and ask for what they need, they would just be creating more problems. This can lead to a lifetime of learning to merge their desires with the needs of the room — a practice that ultimately makes the Type 9s quite likable, but also disconnected from a deep understanding of who they are and what they want.

Type 9s are conscientious, adaptable, selfless, and probably the most likable person you know.

In the Kitchen with Type 9s

Where they thrive: Type 9s are amazing team players. They’re receptive to the needs of others while not being overbearing in their helpfulness. They are considerate and open to taking direction. If you want to have a fun cooking party with someone, a Type 9 would be your best bet. They are collaborative, open to new ideas, and willing to help out where needed. Type 9s are also amazing at routine, so once the routine has been established you can count on them to follow through and maintain.

Their struggle: Because Type 9s focus on their peace of mind they can often numb out as a way to avoid intense emotions or stress. Instead, they take the path of least resistance, which might keep them out of the kitchen. While maintaining routine is easy for our 9s, creating the routine is often a struggle. They need to determine a rhythm and follow through long enough for it to become a habit. In the kitchen this can mean that they may opt for takeout or a very simple meal instead of taking the time to enjoy the cooking process. It can also mean that they may set a goal to become a better cook, but unless they turn that goal into a daily habit they might not follow through.

A positive shift: If you’re a Type 9 I encourage you to find your rhythm. Take a moment to determine when and what you’ll cook in advance and just keep showing up. Meal prepping will be a great friend to you as well. If you take the weekend to exert a bit more energy, then at the end of a long workday when your resources are low, you will have much less work to do for your meals. This way you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a rich and fulfilling time in the kitchen and peace of mind at the end of a long day.