I always enjoy reading the data mined from an Allrecipes.com Measuring Cup report. The recipe website frequently surveys users for information about what they're cooking and buying. This month, the survey asked about digital grocery shopping trends and found an increase in the number of people who create a shopping list digitally, either on a smartphone or a tablet.
Today 53 percent of shoppers still use a handwritten list, but digital lists are gaining traction. Overall, 42 percent of people say they use their smartphone to create and access their list at the store. For millennials, that number jumps to 60 percent. About 17 percent of the respondents said they've used tablets for grocery lists, and 34 percent of millennials have used them.
I've tried using my smartphone to create grocery lists. For a while I was using the Grocery IQ app, but the novelty wore off. I found it cumbersome to have to hold my phone the entire time and scroll up and down. Eventually, I switched back to good old pen and paper, and that's what I still use.
I asked my friends whether they use paper or a mobile device for grocery lists, and I got many responses. Here are some of the pros and cons to each method.
Pros of a handwritten grocery list:
- A handwritten list will never run out of power.
- It's easier to add to a handwritten list.
- Paper can be hung up in the kitchen and family members can add to it.
- It's easier to hold in the store than a mobile device.
- A handwritten list frees up your phone or tablet to be a calculator and you don't have to switch apps constantly.
- Crossing off items on a handwritten list feels like more of an accomplishment than tapping items on a screen.
- You can list the items on a handwritten list according to where they are in the store.
- Writing a list feels more natural. (I was surprised by the number of people who said something similar to this.)
Cons of a handwritten grocery list:
- You can forget to bring it to the store.
- You can lose it in the store. (And, if you use an old envelope for your list with the coupons tucked inside, you can lose your coupons, too. I've definitely done that.)
Pros of a digital grocery list:
- You almost never forget your mobile device when you leave the house.
- If all family members have the same app, they can all add to the list no matter where they are.
- Some apps update instantaneously so others can add to the list even while the shopping is taking place.
- Some apps let you scan items to help you easily create a personalized master list.
- It's neater. If you delete items as you put them in your cart, your list becomes shorter and cleaner (as opposed to a handwritten list that can get messy as you cross things out.)
Cons of a digital grocery list:
- It's cumbersome to hold a device the entire time.
- Scrolling up and down can make you miss an item or two.
- The concern about the device being stolen if you set it down when you need both hands for something else.
- Most apps don't allow you to organize your list according to your personal store (unless it's your store's own app).
Some of the apps that my friends use for their grocery lists include Out of Milk, Cozi, Wanderlust, OneNote, Grocery IQ, Our Groceries, and Weight Watchers.
True to what the Allrecipes survey found, most of the millennials who answered my question on Facebook made lists on mobile devices. The majority, but not all, of Gen X responders used pen and paper.
Of all the comments I got, the most useful tip was this: "I write a list and take a picture of it in case I forget it. I never forget my phone."
I'm definitely going to start doing that.