There’s little reason to create grocery lists on paper or in notebook apps like Evernote when you can shop smartly by using a dedicated shopping list manager on the iPhone.
I shake my head every time I see an advert for a notebook app in which developers suggest how it useful it can be for creating a grocery list – that’s the last thing I’d use a notebook app for. When I go to the grocery store, it’s ten times easier to pull out my iPhone and check items a dedicated, purpose-built app.
I never have to write out anything, and my grocery lists are with me wherever I go.
Shopper Pro ($0.99)
The grocery app I’ve used for several years is Shopper, because it lists all the food items I and my wife buy on a regular basis. When it’s my turn to go shopping, it’s easy enough to open Shopper, browse my refrigerator and pantries, and check the items on Shopper we need.
When I first started using Shopper, it took a few visits to the grocery store to organize my listed items by store aisles. So now I can pretty much work my way through the produce, meats, vegetables, and fruits sections, checking off items as I go, and cutting my shopping time nearly in half.
When adding items to Shopper, you can go beyond just the item name and food aisle. You can also add a photo of the item, the usual price, notes, and specify an available coupon (including its value and when it expires.)
The fastest way to add items to the app is by using the automatic barcode scanner, which if the information is available, will populate item info with the name, and even its sale price at local stores. This of course works for your most common and national brand items.
Shopper contains lots of other features, including the ability to create separate grocery and product lists for different stores, add items to favorites and reminders lists, and several preferences settings for customizing the appearance and management of items. You can also sync your list with other family members who use Shopper.
Grocery iQ (Free)
Grocery iQ may not have as many features as Shopper, but it does sport a slightly better iOS design, and its barcode scanner connects to a huge grocery database from which specific brands can be selected and added to your list. The same goes for verbally speaking items into Grocery iQ. For example, say “peanut butter,” and the app will return a list of brands to choose from.
Because of its database, Grocery iQ also assigns an aisle to scanned items, though that listing might not match your local store.
Grocery iQ also includes a history of the items you have previously checked off, providing a useful way to keep track of what items you need to purchase again. Like Shopper, Grocery iQ allows for multiple grocery lists, named according to the individual stores where you shop. You can also use the web version of Grocery iQ to manage, create, and share grocery lists.
If you want to be more conscious about your food intake, Shopwell provides a way to build your grocery list based on food items that fit your dietary needs. The app shows personalized scores for foods based on information you provide it, including your age and gender, items that are important to your diet, and items you are allergic to or intolerant of.
I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this app because I’m not a nutritionist, but based on a few searches I made, Shopwell provided personal food recommendations about selected items that are, for instance, low in saturated fat and sodium, a good source of protein, and low in cholesterol.
Shopwell is similar to the food database service Fooducate but unlike the latter, Shopwell uses the information you provide it to make more personal recommendations.
Another way to develop grocery lists is to use recipe apps, like RecipeTin and an a similar previously reviewed recipe manager called Paprika.
RecipeTin includes a built-in web browser for downloading recipes from any website. For recipe sites that allow it, RecipeTin can parcel ingredients and directions for a recipe and saves that information to the app, which allows for categorizing recipes by favorites, recently added, dish types and so on.
For other sites, RecipeTin will download the webpage as a PDF, though it will include, in addition to the recipe, all the other content on the page.
RecipeTin is not quite as advanced as Paprika, which allows you to create grocery lists based on items from selected recipes, but RecipeTin is still useful for managing recipes and locating a whole meal’s worth of grocery items directly on your iPhone.
In the era of food databases and lots of information about what’s most healthy to eat, you owe to yourself to be a smart shopper. Grocery manager apps can save you both time and money, and some can even help you eat better.
Let us know what you think of the above, and which app you use to manage your grocery lists.