Whether it’s groceries or other items, most of us shop at multiple stores. And I don’t know about you, but I have to have a shopping list or I will forget one or more items. For a while, I have been trying different methods of keeping running shopping lists for different stores. I have finally settled on the best shopping list method, and I love it!
But everyone is not the same, and you might prefer to do your lists differently. So I want to share the pros and cons I found of using different methods of shopping list organization.
Pen and Paper
Pen and paper is the method that most people used for years. And even in this digital age, many people still like using this method. I have gone back and forth with it. I like writing things down, but I really need to keep lists for multiple stores. Keeping track of lots of paper lists is not ideal.
I also have the problem of losing my list while I’m at the store. But this is a method I have come back to over time, and I have also combined it with my whiteboard option below.
Pros – It’s simple. Everyone knows how to write a list on a piece of paper. And many people enjoy writing as opposed to tapping or typing. A list on paper doesn’t turn off like your phone does.
Cons – It requires pen and paper. Sometimes pens don’t work and paper gets torn, wet, or lost. Can require multiple pieces of paper for multiple lists.
Whiteboard (or Chalkboard)
One method I used a lot until recently is writing my lists on a small whiteboard on the side of my frig. I mentally divide the board into quarters. Three of them are labeled with grocery stores and the fourth is for anything else. When I think of something I need, I write it down in the correct location.
Pros – It’s easy to write things down. It’s available for the family to write on.
Cons – It requires a whiteboard and supplies. The list has to be transferred for shopping. It’s limited in size. I would really rather keep running lists for more stores than I can fit.
Transferring lists from a whiteboard
When it’s time to go to the store, I do one of two things. I either write down on paper the items I need for the store (or stores) I’m going to OR I take a picture of the board with my phone.
Pen and Paper – Writing the list down has pretty much the same pros and cons as pen and paper lists above.
Taking a picture
Pros – It’s super easy as long as you have a smartphone
Cons – You can’t cross things off the phone list. You have to keep turning on your screen as you’re going through the store or keep tapping it to make sure it stays on.
The whiteboard method has worked well for me, and I like being able to choose whether I want to shop from a picture on my phone or use a paper list. But it still leaves something to be desired. And sometimes I stop by the store unexpectedly and don’t have my list with me.
I am sure there are multiple shopping list apps out there and probably most of them provide more functionality than a basic list app that comes with your phone. The one I have used for shopping is Our Groceries. I really like this app, but I have only used it in combination with the option below. However, I think that on its own it’s still very worthwhile.
Pros -There are quite a few …
- It’s free.
- You can set up lists for numerous stores.
- You can group like items together using categories such as produce and dairy.
- After you enter an item the first time, it is added to a master list so that it will be suggested the next time you start adding it. That means you don’t have to tap out the whole word every time.
- It’s super easy to cross items off your list.
- Your can share your account with other family members so they will have the same lists on their phones.
- You can add recipes to the app and then when you want to make that recipe you can have the ingredients added to your shopping list.
Cons – Even though you don’t have to enter the whole word once it is on your master list, you still have to get your phone, open the app, etc. You need to keep your screen on as you’re shopping.
I think this is a great app, and I am working on adding recipes for those dishes that I make regularly. (You can log onto their website and copy and paste ingredients on your computer.) And as you can see, we don’t just use it for grocery shopping. My husband has lists for Lowes and Advance Auto.
But for me, one drawback to any app is that when I’m working in the kitchen with messy hands, I don’t want to have to use my phone when I think of something that needs to go on a list. That’s why I love using this app in combination with my Echo Dot …
Amazon Echo or Echo Dot
I mentioned last week that we love our new Echo Dot, and creating shopping lists is one reason why I especially love it. In fact, to me, it’s worth the price of the Dot just for this. The dot comes with a basic shopping list and to-do list. So I can say, “Alexa, add apples to my list” and she’ll add it to one master shopping list.
But if I want to have multiple shopping lists (and I do), then I have to use a skill. Our Groceries (see above) has a skill that works with Echo products. Once the app is set up and the skill is enabled, all I have to do is talk to Alexa and tell her to add items to my list using that skill.
For example, I can say, “Alexa, ask Our Groceries to add avocados to Aldi.” And she says, “Added avocados to Aldi.” Then “avocados” shows up on my Aldi shopping list in the Our Groceries app.
I LOVE IT! It doesn’t get easier than that.
Pros – It’s super easy. You can add items without stopping what you are doing or having to wash your hands. It works very well. You get all the above benefits of the app, and if you want to take a paper list to the store, you can simply copy the items from the app before you go.
Cons – You can only add one item at a time, so the whole command has to be repeated for each item. (I usually only add one or two items at a time, so I haven’t found this bothersome.) You need to have an Alexa enabled product. The Dot is the cheapest and costs $50. Since there are other things I really like about the Dot too, I think it’s well worth the money.
A final word
I have to tell you all that I am really not a sales person. I hate sales and I hate it when sales people are pushy with me. So I can honestly say that I’m not trying to get you to buy anything. I’m really thrilled with this shopping list method, and I want to share that with you.
This post does contain affiliate links. So if you go to Amazon from one of my links and buy something, I get a small commission which helps to compensate me for the time and money that goes into this web site. And I really appreciate that. But that’s not why I’m writing this post.
If you read this site regularly, then I know you cook and shop. And maybe, like me, you’re not completely satisfied with how you keep track of what you need to buy. I hope these shopping list ideas help you.
What’s your favorite way to keep track of shopping lists?