How Plan to Eat sorts the Shopping List:

The recipes that you add to your Planner, contain ingredients that will automatically populate the Shopping List. The shopping list looks at a specific range of dates and lists all of the ingredients for all of the recipes within that date range. Rather than spitting out an incomprehensible list of ingredients Plan to Eat will first make sense of the list by sorting it:

  1. Plan to Eat begins by sorting the store names. All of the stores in the Grocery Stores List are put in alphabetical order. Items on the grocery list are either assigned to one of these specific stores, or they end up in the Default store until you assign them to a store. Here is an article about how to use the grocery stores.
  2. Plan to Eat will then sort based on the grocery category alphabetically, or by a custom order if it has been set. This article will show you how to customize your grocery categories.
  3. Then Plan to Eat looks for the root ingredient title. For example, if a recipe calls for “chopped red peppers”, Plan to Eat will isolate the word “peppers.” This allows us to put all types of “peppers” in the same place on your list, since they are most likely together at the grocery store.
  4. The item is then sorted by its full ingredient title.
  5. Finally, we sort by the unit. We sort first by units that can be scaled (“cups”, “tablespoons” and “teaspoons”) and then by the unit title.

Once the items are sorted, Plan to Eat will go back through the list to combine and group similar items based on similar rules; store name, grocery category, title, units that can be scaled, and then the unit title.

How Plan to Eat combines similar ingredients for a cleaner list (and what to do if it isn’t what you want):

Not combining due to nomenclature:

Let's say you have 3 recipes that each call for salt in different ways:

  • Salt Pinch [E]
  • Salt 1 1/2 teaspoons [D]
  • Salt and pepper to taste [A]

Plan to Eat will group and scale the units; “cups”, “tablespoons” and “teaspoons”, but will not combine units such as “pinch” with “teaspoons”. Plan to Eat does not know how much a “pinch” is, so we keep it separated on it’s own line for you to reference.

If you prefer all of your salt to be on one line in your shopping, you can assign a value to a "pinch" in the recipe. How much is a “pinch?” 1/8th of a teaspoon? 1/16th of a teaspoon? You decide.

“Salt and pepper” is not the same thing as “salt.” Instead of stashing salt and pepper somewhere in your list for the sake of neatness, we would rather you know that you have a recipe that calls for an undefined combination of salt and pepper to your preferred tastes.

If it is not helpful to you to have that item on your shopping list, you can remove items from your shopping list.

Not combining due to unit differences:

Let's say you have 2 recipes that each call for Russet potatoes in different ways:

  • Russet potatoes 4 [A]
  • Russet potatoes 6 pounds [B]

These two ingredient listings for Russet potatoes do not use the same unit type; one of them is quantity while the other is a weight. Plan to Eat will list these separately so that in addition to the 6 pounds of Russet potatoes that you need for the one recipe, you will know that you also need to grab 4 more potatoes, of your choice, for the other. We would rather you have the information you need to decide which potatoes you would like to select at the grocery store for those particular recipes.

If hand selecting your produce for a particular recipe is not important, take a guess at how many pounds 4 potatoes would be (it’s about 1.5 pounds). Click on the "Russet potatoes 4" in your shopping list to change the ingredient units to pounds for the associated recipe. When the two recipes are using the same unit measurement the two items will combine. Whenever you use that recipe in the future the measurement will be in pounds.

Not combining due to adjectives in ingredients:

Let's say you have 2 recipes that each call for Onions in different ways:

  • Chopped Onion
  • Onion

Many times adjectives in recipes will end up in the wrong place. If this recipe, which contains "Chopped Onion", was updated by moving "Chopped" to the notes for this ingredient in the recipe, the two items would be combined together on the shopping list, and the note for “chopped” would be displayed after the combined ingredients.

Our approach to the shopping list:

If you have two ingredients on your list that are not merging, take a good look at the two items. One of the items is different from the other in some way. Edit them to be the same and they will merge for a cleaner list.

You can see which recipes correspond to particular ingredients by looking at the letter which follows it and referencing the recipe key (it highlights when you roll over it). You can also look at the details of particular ingredients by clicking on the edit icon and clicking to view the included items. This can be helpful as you are trying to see how ingredients are combining.

We want the Plan to Eat to simplify as much of your grocery shopping as possible. However, we also want your grocery list to be transparent enough that you know exactly what your meal plan is calling for, and come home from the store with everything you need. As you use Plan to Eat, it will learn your preferences and categorize in a way that works best for you.


Try it out!

How do I combine items on my shopping list?