There’s more than one way to meal prep, but what’s the best approach for your personality? Let your Enneagram type determine your particular strategy.
If you’ve spent even a little bit of time on social media over the last few months, you’ve probably heard about the Enneagram. You may not know all of the details, but we’re willing to bet that you’ve at least seen a meme or two. There’s a meme for everything.
Memes are great, but they rarely get into the facts — so let’s get to a definition of the Enneagram. According to the Enneagram Institute, the Enneagram is a complex, subtle system based on a circle with nine points. Each point represents a distinct personality type. Typically, everyone comes out of childhood with one of those types dominating their personality, though we can pick up attributes of different types over time. Each type is captured with a one-word descriptor.
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Figuring out your type may help way beyond the kitchen too.
The Enneagram is a bit more nuanced than other personality typing systems, so it’s best to resist the temptation to get too tied to a single type based on the descriptors and without taking a deeper dive into how the whole thing works. Still, even at the most general level, the Enneagram can serve as a useful guide for how different types can best approach challenges, react to various situations, and make decisions.
One decision that we all have to make is what and how to eat. And since meal planning can feel like an overwhelming undertaking, it can’t hurt to have some extra guidance. With a little help from “The Wisdom of the Enneagram“— one of the best-loved, most comprehensive guides to the Enneagram system — we’ve determined the best meal planning strategy for each of the nine Enneagram types.
Type 1: The Reformer
Reformers are known for being rational, principled, self-controlled, and purposeful. They tend to be perfectionists and are in constant pursuit of being balanced and doing the right thing in any situation. Type Ones can find themselves chasing unattainable standards and are often compulsive organizers. For this reason, Reformers can be natural planners…when it comes to meals and everything else!
Honestly, there’s not much we can suggest to the Reformers out there about planning that they don’t already understand on their own. Type Ones should lean into their organizational abilities to devise a plan for cooking and grocery shopping every week. The more details you account for in your lists and charts, the better you’ll feel!
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Type 2: The Helper
If you’ve ever been accused of being a people pleaser, you just might be a Type Two on the Enneagram. Helpers are known for being caring, generous, demonstrative, and motivated by love from others.
So what might make the Helper feel especially motivated to meal plan? Thinking of others! Instead of sitting down to plan out the week’s food from an unemotional perspective, shift your mindset. Consider when you might be feeding others in the days ahead. Are you sitting down for a family meal? Expecting friends for a visit? Making cookies for your kids’ class? Dropping off food with your neighbor? Start by planning around those moments. Your people pleasing tendencies are bound to keep you inspired to plan for these occasions, and you’ll have so much momentum once you get started that filling in the gaps won’t feel like a problem.
Type 3: The Achiever
The fact that Type Threes are better known as Achievers in the Enneagram community should tell you almost everything you need to know. A Type Three can often be spotted because of their pragmatism, adaptability, and ambition. They are highly focused on success, achievement, and being seen as worthwhile by others.
An Achiever who struggles with meal planning might find themselves able to get more excited about it if they can set it up as a challenge! Seek out recipes or meal prep inspo from chefs, blogs, and web sites you respect and start your planning process there. Make it a goal to complete one or two new recipes per week. Since you’re most likely motivated by reaching these kinds of goals, you’ll find it easier to hone in on building your grocery list when there’s a task at hand that you can achieve.
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Related Reading: The Best Meal Prep Containers to Get Yourself in Gear
Type 4: The Individualist
Type Fours are all about setting themselves apart from the pack. They are on a constant journey to discover their true identities and to be true to who they really are.
An Individualist isn’t going to find a lot of effective guidance in meal planning templates or processes designed by others. Meal planning will be more successful for a Type Four when it feels more driven by their own tastes and desires. If you’re an Individualist and want to get into a better meal planning habit, start with a brainstorming session! Make a master list of every meal or snack you’d like to prepare for yourself over the next few months, then hang it on your refrigerator. Every time you sit down to meal plan for the week, you can pull out that list and build out your plan based on the items you’ve brainstormed.
Type 5: The Investigator
Investigators place a high value on being capable and competent, on solving problems and being innovative whenever possible. Type Fives will thrive as meal planners when they make it an iterative, thoughtful process.
If you’re a Type Five, consider keeping notes about how your meals and meal preparations go over the course of one week. Did you enjoy the meals? Is there something you might do differently in terms of prep in the future? Were you on track with quantities? What would you do the same? What would you do differently? Use those notes to inform your meal plan for the following week. Investigators are wired to enjoy this kind of problem-solving, so why not apply it to meal planning?
Related Reading: 7 Instant Pot Meal Prep Tips to Streamline Your Week
Type 6: The Loyalist
Loyalists are happiest when they feel secure and supported. They tend to be responsible, engaged in what’s happening around them, and committed. More than any other Enneagram Type, they are — you guessed it — loyal to their friends and their beliefs.
Because Type Sixes often look for emotional reinforcement from their loved ones, they might find that the most effective way for them to meal plan is to seek kitchen success stories from others. When looking at your calendar for the week, plug in meals that you know and love — maybe favorite family recipes, etc. — then ask for suggestions from friends and family members. Ultimately, it will be fun for you to go outside of these suggestions and come up with your own recipes, but there’s nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone to get started with your meal plan.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
If you’re a Type Seven, you probably identify with words like “spontaneous,” “busy,” and “fun.” You more than anyone can — and should — make a task like meal planning fun.
Your best bet is to keep things interesting! You’re most likely to stick to a meal planning routine if it feels exciting, so approach your weekly meal plan as an opportunity to try lots of new things. Fill your meal plan with as many new recipes as possible. Use your meal planning time to research dishes and meal prep tips that sound like fun. This will keep you motivated and engaged!
Type 8: The Challenger
Challengers are confident, decisive, charismatic, and love to be in control of most situations. Type Eights, we’re just going to go ahead and suggest that you don’t try to force yourself into any kind of consistent meal planning strategy. It’s probably just going to drive you crazy.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
The number-one priority for most Type Nines is internal and external peace. Peacemakers want to maintain stability in their minds and in their environments. They seek connection with others and love to be grounded. They are also easygoing, receptive, agreeable, and reassuring.
Because of their easygoing natures, Type Nines might actually do their best meal planning while in the process of grocery shopping. Whether you’re shopping online or in real life, tune in to the items that feel comforting to you. Your instincts most likely won’t lead you astray, and you can follow them to choose ingredients and foods that will round out a healthy meal plan.
Header image courtesy of Ella Olsson / Unsplash