I hate shopping. Going to the store when there’s no purpose is my idea of torture, which is why I only go out when I need something. But even with hating shopping, it’s easy to get distracted and buy more than you need. Which is why you’ll find personal finance bloggers across the internet saying that one of the best and easiest ways to save money grocery shopping is by using a list. My problem for a while is that my list consisted of a post-it note that I crammed every item on during work. And I would sometimes forget simple things, or forget to put standard purchases on there too. And buying one thing “off list” made it easier to buy other things off the list.
So I went hunting for an app. Something that would manage my list, and potentially more. That I could add to during the week, would organize by section of the store, would potentially do meal planning. In a review of list app roundups, I stumbled upon Anylist, and downloaded it almost immediately. And probably a week after I downloaded the app, I decided I wanted to upgrade to the paid version. It’s that good. So let me tell you a little about what it is and what it does.
It starts off very basic. Add items to the list. Anylist will automatically categorize the items you add so that when you go to the store, you can see all the produce items, all the frozen items, all the beverage, or dairy or whatever. This was my main problem in the past – I would wander back and forth because I had forgotten about those shallots lower on the list and that they too were in the produce, and it wasn’t only lemons and spinach that I needed.
It’s easy to add notes to my items so that I know to buy enough. In the premium version, I can also categorize items by store, so I know that I should get my baby carrots at Harris Teeter or Trader Joe’s, and avoid getting them at Whole Foods (where they are too fat, and not smaller and bite sized the way that I like them. And crossing off items is easy, and visually pleasing. Found items get a big red line through them, and you can see what’s left to purchase.
Here’s a very recent grocery list and what my basket looked like as I shopped. As you can see, when you have a minimal list, you don’t necessarily have to get the shopping cart every single time, since I’m less tempted to buy things that aren’t on the list.
But in this case, I did go off list slightly – I “bought” some greek yogurt that was free because of other items on my list. Yay!
Other features that I love: you can import recipes from websites and blogs. This is a feature you can use if you have the premium version, and is a big part of why I upgraded. I also love that with the premium version I can access my lists online at my computer at work. So while adding things to the list on my phone is easy, if I’m trying to import a recipe (and thus the list of ingredients that go with it), if I’m having problems getting the recipe to import, I can do it more easily manually using the web-version.
And this is a great time to mention their customer service, because a few days after I made the purchase for premium, I got an email from the CO-FOUNDER (That’s right – one of the guys in the pictures on this page!) and he asked if I was having issues, had any questions, what I liked, etc. I mentioned the recipe importation problem, and he explained how that worked, and that it’s basically recipe metadata that not all sites use, but I could send them that link and they could add it to their recipes. Which I am now reminded of nearly 10 months later and vaguely embarrassed because I’m 99% sure that my own recipes wouldn’t import. Whoops.
So – back to the recipes feature. I love it so, and one of the super great things is that you can multiply your recipe totals IN THE APP. So cool. Sometimes it’s hard to know when you’ve doubled or halved certain ingredients, and when you haven’t. This makes it so easy. And you can keep track of recipes you’ve used and where they came from, and go back and add the ingredients to your current shopping list. Basically the only way this app could be more handy would be if it kept track of everything I already had in my pantry, and how much was left, but the Boy and I have not entered the “smart kitchen” world yet.
There are so many features that I’m not even using, so I would highly recommend visiting their website to read up on everything that I haven’t mentioned here. And at $8/year for an individual suscription, or $12/year for a family subscription (if you want to sync and share lists across accounts), I happen to think it’s a great deal. I love apps that help me organize my life and I’m willing to pay for the ones that give me additional value, functionality, and peace of mind. Anylist is bang for your buck…and can help you save a few bucks too.