The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

iPhone BBQ Buddy - Groceries

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Next in my serious of blogs about cooking related iPhone apps is Groceries, a shopping list app from Sophiestication software available at the iTunes Store. After some initial setup, it makes creating shopping lists quick and easy. It comes loaded with pre-made entries for many types of groceries and is highly customizable. One of the things I like is you can customize the shopping lists on a store by store basis to reflect the actual aisle layout and aisle content of each store you make a list for.

“Second . “Third . “Fourth

You can make a list for each store you shop in (Left). By clicking on the “+” (plus) button It brings up a new screen where you name each shopping list (Middle). By clicking on the “Supermarket Layout” button you can rearrange the order of the existing aisles currently in the program. You do this by dragging the name by the grip handles (three lines) on the right. (Right).

The concept is easy: You make a shopping list for each food store you plan to shop in. Then for the quickest and easiest use, you customize the list by arranging the aisles to reflect the layout of that store. An alternate approach is to arrange the aisles of the store by the order you visit them. You also have the ability to add new aisles and delete or rename existing aisles.

“Fifth . “Sixth . “Seventh

The “+” (Plus) button on the main screen allows you to goto the screen where you can pick an aisle and start shopping. You do this by picking the aisle and adding one or more items contained in that aisle (Left). Clicking on the “Edit” button brings up a new screen where you can move, rename or use the “New Aisle” button to add your own aisle (Middle). You can name your newly created aisle and pick an icon for the aisle (Right). In this series of slides I’ve added my supermarkets Cheese Bar Section (where the fancy cheese is sold) and given it a cheese icon.

Once you get the aisle set up you can start shopping, or you may want to further customize the list to add or rename the specific groceries you buy. It may seem at this point that there is a lot of setup to do or that it is complex. This couldn’t be further than the truth. The setup is very easy and intuitive and pays you back over and over again when you start making the shopping lists. Plus this customization something you can do over time as you learn more about how the program works. I spent under a half hour initially setting the program up for the two markets I frequent the most. For example: Sometimes the listings built into the program are a bit too general. For example I changed “Bell Peppers” in the Produce Aisle to “Bell Peppers - Red”, “Bell Peppers - Green” & “Bell Peppers - Yellow”. I find the new Copy Paste feature of the Version 3.0 iPhone software comes in really handy for creating multiple similar items like those Bell Peppers. Also I’ve found organizing the lists has made me want to learn more about the organization of the store. After using the program for a few weeks I took a walk through my local supermarket to note the aisle locations. I simply walked down the back aisle of the store and used the voice memo feature on the iPhone to record the name and main content of each aisle based on the signs hanging down from the ceiling. Once home I rearranged the aisle layout for that store’s shopping list to reflect this layout. This has actually made me a faster shopper by not wandering around.

“Eigth . “Ninth . “Tenth

To add a new item to the list of predefined items, you pick an aisle and add it to the aisle. When you do this the screen that comes up allows you to edit the info about the new item (Left). You name it via the top field and can add info such as quantity or size via the second remarks field (Middle). By clicking on the “Aisle” button on the Info Screen you pick the aisle you wish to locate the item in (Right).

Before we go shopping I should also add that this list goes beyond just Groceries in it’s built in list of items. It also has aisles for Home & Garden, Office Supplies, Electronics, Alcohol, Pets, Smoking Supplies. Think of Groceries as containing the items you would find in a a Costco warehouse store or Wal-Mart type super store. But basically you can come up with any type of list you want.

“Eleventh . “Twelvth . “Thirteenth

Pick the shopping list for your store and then you add items by searching for them or picking their aisle (Left). The content of each aisle is arranged alphabetically. Tap on the item to select it. Use the edit button to tweak the quantities if needed (Middle). When are done adding items from an aisle you are presented with your shopping list organized by aisle. (Right).

Finally it is time to go shopping. This is where the setup work you did in the beginning pays off. You pick your store’s shopping list and add items. This is a straightforward process. You can add items and one of three ways. 1) Use the search field, 2) Pick from favorites you have added to a Favorites list or 3) Pick an aisle and start tapping on the items you wish to add. I typically use methods 1 and 3. I haven’t made a favorites list. I seem to like going into an aisle and adding everything from that aisle all at once. It is so fast I haven’t felt the need to make a favorites list. This is something I should put on my To Do list. I use the search function when I am buying something new and I don’t know which aisle Groceries has it in. When I find it, I will edit the aisle if necessary to reflect where it is in my store. Each time I do a list with Groceries, it seems to take a little less time.


The search command is a fast way to find something when you don’t know it’s aisle. Note that Groceries already has a lot of name brand items built in (Left). The main icon for the program shows a red numbered badge showing how many items are left to purchase. A handy reminder that you need to go shopping (Right).

Once at the store you simply bring up the list and tap the items as you buy them. The items you have selected get a thin red line through them to cross them off the list. You can set the list to display All of the items on your list or just the Remaining items. I usually display just the remaining items. When you have checked off all of the items on the list, Groceries tells you that you are done. This brings up perhaps my only complaint about Groceries: It is sometimes far too easy to accidentally select an item. You will often need to scroll a long shopping list with your finger and I find I sometimes cross an item off the list by mistake. I have found if you click anywhere within the width of the entry it gets crossed off. The trick is to tap quickly if you want to add or delete an item to the list. To scroll you place your finger on the screen, hold it there in the one place for a few seconds then scroll. The other thing I do now when Groceries says I am done is to set the list back to All and take a quick peek to make sure I got everything. Now that I know to linger with my finger to scroll, I am making less mistakes.

“Sixteenth . “Seventeenth . “Eighteenth

Pick the shopping list for your store and then you tap the item to mark it. Note the red line through Oregano Leaves (Left). With the list set to show remaining items the Oregano Leaves are hidden from view (Middle). When you crossed off all the items you are told you are done. (Right).

One of the greatest things about the App store also presents the biggest challenge. There are nearly 70,000 apps there. This presents quite a challenge because the category of shopping list apps is crowded and you may actually find another one that suits your needs better. How do you choose? Groceries costs $3.99 which puts it one the “expensive” end of the price range. I don’t have a problem with this, but many people do. Unfortunately the User Reviews are often crowded with reviews by people who think everything should be free or $0.99. I feel to some extent you get what you pay for. Plus I feel a developer is entitled to get paid for their work. So I take the user reviews with a big grain of salt. Does the reviewer have a legitimate complaint or are they giving it one star and a bad review because it isn’t free. But if there are a lot of reviews complaining about the same problem this is probably legitimate. I often try to read reviews of these apps elsewhere besides the iTunes store. For example this app got great reviews at the Macworld and Ars Technica websites. I will look at reviews or message boards on the application developers own web site too. Many times if their app has gotten good third party reviews, there will be a link to it. You have to do a little homework to get the right app. Plus although I don’t like wasting money, if this app was a total bust I am only out 4 bucks. But fortunately it wasn’t a bust. On the contrary, I really like this app and use it 3 or 4 days every week. I only have the one complaint about accidental selection and there is a lot to like in this app. The bottom line is: the Groceries iPhone app by Sophiestication Software saves me time and makes the process of making and using shopping lists easier, so $4.00 very well spent.




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