The Meal Planning Boot Camp Day 3: The Shopping List

By January 21, 2015Meal Planning Boot Camp

(If your just joining us, welcome to Meal Planning Boot Camp. Each day this week I’ll post a lesson and a homework assignment. Click here to read the complete overview.)

Lesson 3: The Shopping List

We all know that grocery shopping with little ones is stressful enough. Adding a disorganized shopping list to the matter certainly doesn’t help. So in today’s lesson I’m going to show you how Plan To Eat helps you to make the most of your time in the gauntlet of fire – aka grocery store.

(RSS and email readers, click here to watch the video.)

A Few Tips

Have a shopping day. I’ve found it extremely helpful to have one day a week when I do my grocery shopping. For us, that day is Sunday. It helps me to know that each week I can reset and start fresh. Even if my meal planning fell apart the previous week, Sunday is a clean slate.

Make shopping special. Since I shop on Sunday morning (we go to the late service at church, so it’s a perfect non-crowded time to go) and my husband is at home, I usually try to take just one of the kids. They get pretty excited about the one on one time, even if it is the grocery store.

(That’s my son pushing the cart. He was so proud he could do it himself. The looks from other shoppers were hilarious, though, because it took them awhile to figure out how my cart was moving!)

Shop in order. Organize your shopping list by your grocery store’s layout and not by the food category. I used to just make my shopping list according to what the items were, but after awhile I realized I was still roaming back and forth a lot at the store. So I started reorganizing my list to reflect where my store kept items. It has hugely reduced the amount of backtracking I have to do.

Send older kids on missions. In the summer, I do usually take all my kids to the store. My older kids are big enough for me to send on special “missions” – aka to get the items I forgot on the previous aisle. This is helpful for me and really fun for them. We have even brought along walkie talkies so that I could ask them to get various items.

Don’t shop hungry. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but if you shop when you’re hungry, you’re likely to buy more and you’re also likely to be crankier with the kids. If we are hungry when we go to the store, I always let my kids buy either a piece of fruit or a healthy snack (Clif, Luna and Kind bars are their favorites) before we start shopping.


1. Tweak and adjust your shopping categories. Make sure your Plan To Eat shopping list lines up with the way your grocery store is laid out. This will make your shopping trip go much more smoothly.

2. Make your first shopping list from your meal plan. If you have a smart phone, try the list out on your phone and make a bookmark of the PTE site so that when you get to the store, you’ll be ready to go. If you don’t have a smartphone, print out your shopping list.

Check In

When you complete the homework, please check in by leaving a comment.

Also, if you have any questions, please leave those in the comments as well and I will do my best to help. If you have suggestions or ideas feel free to help other recruits by chiming in on questions in the comments. Click here to join in the discussion.

Time for questions: Tomorrow is Q&A day, so be sure to ask your questions in today’s comments! Dismissed.

Leave a Comment



  • Cyndy says:

    On PTE, I notice that when you add a recipe you can add in the estimated cost (I forget if it is per serving or per recipe)…is there a way to add those numbers up for your weekly menu to see how much your menu plan costs each week?

    • inspiredtoactionkat says:

      Not that I’m aware of, but you could certainly manually add the recipes together and include that info in the title of that Menu Plan.

  • Laura says:

    Thanks so much for doing this, I cant tell you how helpful this has been!

  • Emily says:

    Love the idea of planning my list around the store- I constantly wander back to produce realized I forgot something from the bottom of my list. Genius!

  • Joellen says:

    I am now finished with all three days! I am wondering if I missed how to friend people on PTE. I loved today’s explanation!

  • Heather L. says:

    I completed Day 3. Thanks Kat!

  • MrsAmyB says:

    Very helpful, thanks a bunch!

  • Erin says:

    great info, the staples and freezer areas will be my friend soon.. I too will probably shop my pantry before shopping rather than use the pantry for now. But I love that down the road I have that option if I want it.

  • Callie says:

    Done with Day 3!

  • Edwena says:

    So the pantry is not showing up on my shopping list…..My screen looks different than yours on the right. You have manage categories, export, print, and then the little gear. I don’t have the little gear. I assume that is how I can get the pantry on there. Is this because I just have a trial membership right now? If I go to my planner page, there is a gear there but no way to add the pantry. NO clue what is going on.

    • Marylynn says:

      I don’t have it either, so I looked at the Help Articles. From what I read on PTE’s website, the pantry feature is no longer in use. Maybe Kat has it on her account because she’s been a member so long? Here’s the article:

      It recommends adding a new “store” – you can title it “Always Have” or “Pantry” – and then assigning things you always have on hand to that store. Then it will automatically throw things like salt, flour, water and other things you don’t usually need to buy onto a separate section so you don’t have to spend as much time reviewing your list. Hope that helps!

    • Marylynn says:

      I don’t have it on my account either so I looked at the Help Articles on the PTE website. It looks like it was a previous feature that is no longer in use. Maybe Kat has it on her account since she’s been a member so long?

      PTE recommends creating a “store” – you can name it “Always Have” (or “Pantry”) – and assigning things you usually have on hand to that store. So when a recipe calls for flour, salt, water, etc. it will automatically go to that section of the list. Then it’s quicker to mark things off.

      Here’s the article link:

      Hope that helps!

  • Jennifer says:

    Great tips and ideas! Thanks so much.

  • Leann says:

    I just thought I was in love with everything so far and then I opened the shopping list feature….. I am OVER THE MOON!!! The shopping list was always the hardest part of the process for me…. notice I said WAS! WOOHOOOOO!!!!!

  • Marylynn says:

    Day 3 homework done! Thanks for all the shopping tips.

  • Edwena says:

    Day 3 done!!!

  • Jen Thompson says:

    I used a shopping list today. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start and helped me grocery shop with less on my mind!

  • Aimee says:

    These tutorials have been great! I love that I can move around the list to match my store! and that it groups like items together (much easier to follow along!). Thanks so much for doing this boot camp for us! Not only will we be eating better, we will be saving money by planning ahead each week…no 5:00 call to dad to grab pizza 🙂

  • Ashley says:

    Day Three Complete! I went to log in on my phone (android) and it would not let me. Now I can’t log in on my computer. Also, tried resetting my password but have not received an email to reset it. Sigh. Very frustrating because my list looked so pretty and I was all ready to go to the store. 🙁 Have loved the program so far though and the tutorials have been great.

  • Katie B says:

    Just finished my first week’s shopping list and staples list. I can’t believe how easy and intuitive this all is! I’m looking forward to learning more tomorrow!

  • Dawna says:

    So I made my shopping list and went shopping but now what do I do? Do I just delete everything off the list and start again for next weeks meals or is there a special button I don’t know about. 🙂 Such a wonderful tutorial and I LOVE all of the little extras that PTE has incorporated to make life easier.

    • Kat says:

      I’m guessing you printed your shopping list? If you shop on your phone, it deletes them as you go along. If you printed it you can click the “select all” button at the top and clear your list. Or you can just leave it and use the date picker to only choose the current week.

  • Heather says:

    Hi Kat thanks for getting back to me yesterday so fast re Australian time zone/categories etc – I’ve had a go at the shopping list and can see how fantastic it is. I realise I need to tweak it to suit me as I shop at two different supermarkets regularly, and need to add lots of items to my ‘staples’ list. I don’t think I’d have ‘pushed through’ this far with learning about it and how to make it work for me without these tutorials – can’t thank you enough!
    I have another question – do you know if you can change the word ‘supper’ to ‘dinner’?? – that’s what we call it here in Australia!!! Thanks again

    • Kat says:

      I don’t think that’s an editable option, but I know the developer is very open to suggestions and input, so it’s worth a shot to make a recommendation. I’m SOOO glad to hear you’re enjoying the bootcamp and have found it helpful!

  • Diane says:

    Finished day 3 so I’m ready to head to the store tomorrow morning. Now to head to bed so that I’m not too tired to appreciate my PTE shopping list!

  • Grace S. says:

    This has been so helpful! Thank you for taking the time to do this. Day 3 done! I too was wondering about the Pantry feature and am a bit “bummed” that they no longer have it. Guess I’ll have to try what someone suggested and add a “store”–always have.

  • Tamara says:

    Shopping list done and arranged in my shopping order. I will need to set up a pantry “store” as suggested, but that will have to be done tomorrow. Thank you for this helpful boot camp broken into bite size pieces!

  • Bonita S. says:

    Ok, this is seriously, THE BEST THING EVER!!! I wasn’t even going to check out the pte site because I am working in other digital organizing home management systems, I was planning on doing my grocery list on Evernote. This is the perfect addition. I’m so excited you introduced this to us. What a game changer!!

  • Pamela says:

    I finished day 3! But I have a question. How do I merge by staples list with my meal plan? They show up separately so I had to use two lists to shop.

    • Kat says:

      Ah, great question. At the bottom of the page, after you select a couple items on your staples list, you’ll see a link that says “copy to your shopping list” click that button and Voila!

  • I am loving this. I am curious if you use tags? I put some info in them about calorie count. Love it that it shows up in the list of recipe choices!

  • Wanda says:

    Day #3 – Completed. Awesome.

  • Diana says:

    Played around with it. A bit more tweaking to do.

  • Tris says:

    Assignment 3 done! Excited to use my shopping list this coming Sunday. 🙂

  • Tamara says:

    Thank you for this series. Using PTE is going to make meal planning and shopping so much easier. I really like how user friendly the shopping list is and all the features that are available.

  • Colandra Shead says:

    It’s a late night but I am already a day behind so I am determined not to miss a day and get even farther behind. Day 3 done!

  • erin says:

    I’m having trouble assigning the right items to the right store, but I think I can figure it out. This will get better with practice and I am so excited! Thank you!

  • Diana says:

    Thanks for all the tips. Off to sort staples between multiple stores.