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Grocery Gadget - Shopping App - Set Up

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Part 2 of this blog entry will describe setting up the Grocery Gadget program for use. Some of the items are one-time operations. Others are things you will do a lot when you first start using the program and will use less and less over time. I have found Shopping List apps to be widely different in their flexibility and ease of use. If the program is frustrating to set up, you may never get around to using it. PART 1 described the features of Grocery Gadget and you might want to read that entry first to help you understand this entry. PART 3 describes using the app for shopping.

SETUP:
In this section I will describe the initial set up of the program along with some tips I have learned along the way.

SETUP - Preliminary:
The first step obviously is to download the program for your mobile device(s). The second step should be to establish a web portal account for yourself and/or your family. Even if it is just you that will be using the app, the web portal gives you some additional features not found in the mobile versions. It is also quicker and easier to use for some type of batch editing. In my case I used my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard for most of my setup. As a result, I tend to use the web portal less than many people would. After setting up the web portal, I would strongly suggest looking at the user guides for your mobile device and for the web portal. This way you will know what features are not found on each device. As mentioned there are certain types of editing that can only be done on the web portal. The “Shop” function is something that is only done on the mobile device. Rather than banging your head against the wall wondering why you can't find some feature, read the guides so you know which features are found on the web portal only or the mobile device only.

SET UP - Pre-existing Default Items:
Most of the shopping apps I have tried come with a bunch of built-in items for your shopping list. My suggestion would be before you even start doing anything else get rid of all these items. I am not sure why they are in there, But I suspect the manufacturers may be kicking a little loot to get their products listed. These built-in default items are listed as a convenience feature, however I find them anything but convenient. There are 100s or 1.000’s of items I will never use. So why should I end up having to scroll through a bloated list populated with items I will never use. These default items from different manufacturers are often inconsistently named making them difficult to find. I would suggest clearing all of these items out of the list as your first step. This is a good use for the web portal. The left hand column in the web portal interface is a selection check box. There is a check box in the header and when you click in it, every item on the list below will be selected. You can then use the delete button to remove these as a batch. This is easier than the process you used to delete them from a mobile device. If you are concerned that you may and up wanting this data, you can always create a new list. One list will have all of the default data and you will be able to move that data into your other lists in the future. The other list starts off with a clean slate.

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SET UP - Stores:

The software allows you to have lists for multiple stores. These lists can be customized to have the specific aisles and specific products found each store. If you use pricing, it can be set up to reflect prices on a store by store basis. So you should create at least one store. This can be done in the software or the web portal. Then as you start adding items to your Master list in the "Prepare" mode, be sure to assign them to a store(s)

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SETUP - Aisles

I find that one of the best features of the program is being able to organize your shopping by aisles and the order that you use them in each store. I would suggest doing a little homework before using the software to set up aisles. Visit your store’s website to see if they have a map listing the aisle names, aisle numbers and content. Lacking this, visit the store and see if they don't have a paper map of the aisle layout of the store. If you strike out here, use your mobile device’s camera to take pictures of the signs hanging at the end of each aisle identifying the aisle and the content. If you happen to see a store manager you might want to explain what you are doing. You don't want store security visiting you because it looks like you are spying on the store. Once you have the needed information, set up the aisles for your store or stores. This can be done in the software or the web portal. Once you have the aisle information entered you can rename it or reorder it anytime. I took the time to add the products as listed on the aisle cards. So I didn't just put “Aisle 5a”, I also added: "Baking Needs, Cooking Oils, Spices” or whatever was on the sign. Just like it does in the store, this additional information helps you find the proper aisle for a product. This comes in very handy when you are in the “Prepare” Mode looking to assign a new product to the proper aisle.

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SETUP - Naming Conventions:

Here is something I strongly recommend you do before adding any items to your Master list: Take a few moments to figure out naming conventions you wish to use within the program. One of the reasons I did not use the barcode scanning feature is it named the item by manufacturer and then product type. I wanted my list organized by product type with the various manufacturers group together. For produce I wanted the items listed by type then more specific information. So for example: "Bell Pepper - Green”, “Bell Pepper - Orange”, "Bell Pepper - Red” etc. as opposed to: "Green Bell Pepper”, "Orange Bell Pepper”, "Red Bell Pepper”. The first way, all of the bell peppers are grouped together. The second way the names are spread all across the list. Even if you use Categories, not alphabetical for sorting, the items will still be spread across the Produce portion of the list. Another example of this is for meats where I use: “Beef - Ground - 85% lean”, “Beef - Ground - 80% lean” or “Beef - Steak - Rib-eye - Bone-in”, “Beef - Steak - Rib-eye - Boneless”. You are the one that is going to have to find this stuff again later in an attempt to quickly create a new shopping list. Come up with the system that makes sense and works for you. Also be consistent about your punctuation. You may have noticed I used to space before and after hyphens when they are used to separate categories. This makes it easier to read the list quickly. I omit the space when the hyphen is part of a normally hyphenated word like “rib-eye”. Be sure to be consistent with this, the list will sort differently depending on whether you used a space beside the hyphen are not. Also come up with some naming conventions you wish to use for units or packaging types. For ounces you could end up with: ounces, Oz., oz. or oz. Decide on something and use it consistently or you could accidentally end up with multiple items which are identical except for their units or packaging descriptions. You certainly don't have to use my system, have a naming convention and use it consistently. This may seem like it is overly anal retentive, but you'll thank me when you have a list of 500 items and you are able to find things easily because of the consistent naming convention. Don't ask me how I know this.

SETUP - Big Picture
There are several ways you can tackle getting product into the software. One approach is to go into your pantry and you're cupboards and start adding product in from there. This will give you a list of all the items you typically buy, but I find that approach to be way too much of a good thing. You could use the barcode scanner to get this information into the program fairly quickly. But as I mentioned earlier, I find the amount of editing required is more trouble than it is worth. The approach I took was to add items to my list on as needed basis. This the pain of the data entry portion of using a shopping list app, and spreads it out over time. I would look at the ingredients list for a recipe I was making and add the things I needed to buy into the software. Putting a few items in it at time like this definitely made it less painful. I was able to come up with a consistent naming format and use it for everything I put it in. When I sit down to enter new items into the program, I pull up the webpage for my supermarket. This gets me some of the additional information I need for the software such as quantity, type of packaging, brands etc. You'll find after a few weeks or months, you suddenly aren't just entering data all of the time to make a new shopping list. Instead you are checking items off your existing list and maybe adding only one or two new items.

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SETUP - Adding Items - Name & Qty

The “Prepare” mode is typically where you set up your list and add items to it. To add a new item you click on the “+” button at top top right of the screen. This brings up a pop up display listing all of your favorite items with a search field on top to help make finding them easier. At the top right of this pop-up is an “Add New” button in case your search comes up empty. This brings up another pop up and the on screen keyboard. Your cursor is in the name field, where you give the item the name you'll see on the item list.

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Below that is a field for “Quantity”. This main quantity is initially set for 1. To the right of that is a little information icon and a right arrow. Clicking on this area brings up the "Extended Quantity” popup. There are fields here for “Size” (as in how many oz.), “Unit of Measure” and "Packaging Type”. Clicking the “Size” item brings up a little keyboard. Unfortunately the keyboard does not allow you to use fractions, so you must use decimals to represent fractions such as 1.25 for 1 1/4 pounds. An alternative be to use a different unit, such as 20 ounces in this example. These pop-ups are slightly nonintuitive it first because they do not have a “Done” or close button. To exit one of these pop-ups, simply click outside the pop-up and the pop-up will disappear. The pop up for “Unit of Measure” has some predefined units, and you are able to add additional units to suit your needs. What is slightly nonintuitive here is the green “+” representing the button for “Add New” units is at the very bottom of the list. Unless you scroll the list, you never will know it's there. There is also a pop up for “Packaging Type” which has some predefined types and has the same well hidden “Add New” button at the bottom of the list.

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SETUP - Adding Items - Price:

as mentioned earlier, I don't use the price field. It seems like it would be too difficult to keep up-to-date where prices fluctuate on a daily basis. It does have a feature where uses colors to indicate the lowest price when an item is available from multiple sources at different prices. If you are interested in learning more, there is a link to the developer’s website below.

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SETUP - Adding Items - Remarks:

Below the “Price” field is a yellow shaded area for remarks. Tapping on this field brings up the keyboard and allows you to add comments to an item. When you are viewing your shopping list in a list type view, there will be a little pencil icon badge at the very right of line items with Remarks associated with them. The same is true if you have attached a photo or coupon information to any items.

SETUP - Adding Items - Barcode:
Any items you have scanned using the barcode wIll have the barcode appear here.

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SETUP - Adding Items - Stores:

By default, any item you add to the list will be added to the current shopping list you are using in the store you have set in the pop-up menu for stores. Clicking on the “Stores” field brings up a pop-up where you can associate the item with additional stores. There is also the same well hidden “Add New” button at the bottom of the list for creating new store entries. Click outside this pop-up to exit the pop-up.

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SETUP - Adding Items - Aisle:

For my money, this is one of the most important fields in this dialog box. This is where you assign an item to its aisle in a given store. Clicking on this field brings up a pop-up menu where you can select the aisle for the product. You can also add new aisles, delete aisles and reorder the sequence of the aisles. Be sure to assign every item to its aisle. When you are in the "Shop" mode, the list can be organized by aisle. Be sure to assign every item to its aisle. I also have an aisle I created called “Unknown”. This groups items I don't know the location of together. At the store it gives me a grouped list that allows me to ask the sales associates where are these items are.

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SETUP - Adding Items - Category:

Clicking on this field brings up a pop-up menu where you can assign an item to the category you want. As with the other pop-ups, you can add as many categories as you want and edit them afterwards. While I feel “Aisles” are a mandatory item for me, “Categories” may or may not be important to you. I find them quite handy when I am in the “Prepare" mode filling out my shopping list. Instead of scrolling up-and-down the entire list, I can set it to sort by categories. Then all of the produce is grouped together, all of the spices, All of the bakery products etc. I can quickly select everything I need from a given category. If you are unsure of the category, searching for the product on your supermarket’s website may point you in the right direction.

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SETUP - Adding Items - Brand:

This field is like all of the others, where clicking on it brings up an editable pop-up menu of brands. Whether you want to be this specific or not is up to you. You may have specific brands that you like using. I am very picky about some other brands I use. You can have your shopping list reflect this as, well as reflecting the size(s) that particular manufacturer makes. In other words if you need a small amount, you buy Brand A. If you need the bigger size you might buy Brand B. It may also come in handy if someone else in the family is doing the shopping. They will be able to see what brand you use. I should note that the brand is not visible in the main list view in the “Shop” mode. You must open up that item to see the brand.

Now that the program is set up, it is finally time to use it to go shopping.
PART 3 of this entry will describe the procedure for setting up and using shopping lists.


SOME RELATED LINK
Here are links to the other two blog entries in this series about Grocery Gadget. There are also links to the Developer’s website and the user guide for the iOS 7 version of Grocery Gadget.

   GROCERY GADGET - SHOPPING APP - USAGE 2014 Blog Entry about creating a Shopping Lists in the Grocery Gadgets app.
   GROCERY GADGET - SHOPPING APP - FEATURES 2014 Blog Entry about the Features of the Shopping List app I have been using for the last year or so: Grocery Gadgets.

  GROCERY GADGET WEBSITE
  GROCERY GADGET QUICK GUIDE - iPHONE / iPOD TOUCH VERSION Although this is iOS 7 Version, it will give you an idea of the features of the program, how to set them up and how you use them.

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