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I have a friend named Jax that created a running grocery list that he kept on his cell phone – way back in 2006. He had listed out his favorite items, sorted by department, on his iPhone Notes. Jax would put a checkmark next to the items he needed; if he was shaving and needed new razor blades, he’d pull up his phone, scroll to the HABA (health and beauty aids section – I wish I was joking), and check razor blades off the list. It seemed like a little work on the front end for maximum efficiency while at the store shopping.

Jax had walked his usual grocery store and set up his sections by aisle. He listed out the items he usually used, marinades for meat, protein bars by brand name, etc. Here’s where it gets weird, he even had listed meats by what he used them for, and how they were cooked. Beef Skirt Steak for fajitas or stir fry. Chuck roast or brisket for the crockpot. He swore it saved him money on quality meat. If meat was on sale, he knew how he could cook it and it would help him remember if he needed a special spice packet or certain vegetables. It was genius. It was also time-consuming – so I never adopted his ritualistic shopping approach.

Every time I arrive at the grocery store without my list, I admit, I think of Jax’s grocery list with a twinge of jealousy and resolve that I should do the same thing. I think that my future self would appreciate the time investment.

Welcome to 2021: where regular people, like me, can download an app for almost anything, including grocery lists. We have a lot of great stores in Billings, but you can’t shop just one, and because you can’t, you’re gonna need an app for that. I did a Google search for “apps to make grocery shopping easier.” There are a lot of apps to choose from and most are free for iOS and Android download.

I’m going to share the Top 4 apps that were listed in several different articles that I read: but before I share my research let me tell you the two best things, that I accidentally discovered trying out the apps. First, having an evergreen, evolving grocery list in your hands every time you walk into any store is the best feeling of efficiency that I’ve gifted myself. Turns out, I walk into grocery stores, Costco, downtown shops, and Target more than I realize. The grocery list app on my mobile phone made every quick jaunt a gratifying completed task. I cannot be trusted to remember plain Greek yogurt or garlic powder (not garlic salt) without a glance at my app’s grocery list. I made fewer trips to the grocery store and every trip was worthwhile.  Second, planning meals with the grocery list app made my hopes and dreams of nightly dinners a reality. So often my good intentions get put on hold because I am missing one or two ingredients. That has not happened in the four weeks I have been using my favorite grocery list app.

Check out these apps, see which one you prefer, and make the most of your grocery shopping. I love crossing things off my to-do list and I abhor having to put on pants and shoes to run back to the store when I forget something. Thank you to my friend Jax for planting the grocery store list made an easy dream in my head a short in 2006; just a short 15 years to learn the genius of your example.

 

  • Credit: AnyList App
    1

    AnyList

    This app is top-rated and listed on most articles that I read, like this one from Good Housekeeping, and this one from BestProducts.com. I was able to create organized lists, store recipes, plan meals, save recipes, share the list with your spouse or kids, ad sync across all devices. You can create any sort of list with this app, including a packing list or a gift list. You can select which stores you shop at and filter by store.

  • Credit: OurGroceries
    2

    OurGroceries

    If you want a no-fuss, no extras approach to grocery shopping, Our Groceries, is the most like an old-fashioned pen and paper list. This app is super simple and streamlined. It is so easy to use, you don’t need a tutorial. It does allow sharing of the list between household shoppers.

  • Credit: Out of Milk
    3

    Out of Milk

    There are three main list functions: Shopping list, Pantry stock, and to-do lists. My favorite feature of this app is the Pantry List; much like my friend Jax, you can list your essentials and track whether you are low or full on your pantry food storage. I’ll never again run out of walnuts or powdered sugar mid-recipe.

  • Credit: Mealime
    4

    Mealime

    Spoiler alert, this is my favorite app out of the ones that I have tried. My favorite feature of this app is that you can select meals based on your eating preferences, create a shopping list, and use their recipes. Meal plans can be based on Keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. Nutrition info can be synced with the Health app on your iPhone, too. All of the meal plans are based on 30 minutes or less cooking experience. I chose three meals and the app curated the shopping list. Then, you get to cross off any ingredients you have on hand and voila – you’re ready to go. The multi-faceted features for selecting recipes and creating the grocery list is surprisingly intuitive. I did not struggle to figure any of the features out. I’ve been using a home delivery meal kit service for the last couple of months and Mealime helped me to feel confident about canceling that service. I am a foodie at my core, and I love cooking with new recipes, which was my favorite part of using Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Green Chef. I found that Mealimes recipe suggestions helped my desire for different recipes, my waistline, and my pocketbook – triple score! Mealime even got a shout out in my Christmas letter this year – that’s how much I love it.