Friday, March 23, 2012

iPad Series: Home Management, Part 2

Grocery IQ
Ahhhhh…this app and I are a match made in heaven. I was already doing almost all of this with laminated lists and dry erase markers with Lucy but with Luce it is SO MUCH BETTER!!! When some people see this app they may initially find it to be over-the-top organized but generally speaking the next time they are shopping they start to wonder if maybe it isn’t a bad idea after all.
I warn you, it does take an investment of time. Frankly, almost every VERY useful app does. It’s useful because you can customize it and customizing it takes time. So I spent a few evenings preparing to use Grocery IQ and I’m absolutely certain that I’ve earned that time back ten-fold over the last 10 months.
The first thing you do is set up your stores.
Photo Mar 23, 2 40 34 PM Then you set up the name and order of the aisles in each store.
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You then proceed to put in your “Favorites” which is really a list of your kitchen staples. Photo Mar 23, 2 42 50 PM
Once every two weeks I stand in my kitchen and then in my basement (pantry) and go through my Favorites list marking any that I’m running low on. Notice those green dots on the right of the page under the arrow? Those indicate that I currently need those things.
But before you do that you need to add them (hence the time consuming part. You could just manually enter items for a few months and save them all as favorites and build your favorites list that way. I chose to do it before hand because I already had a list of favorites since I had just done my painstakingly detailed price comparison of Aldi and Costco).
As you enter your Favorites you have a variety of options. We will look closer at Bread as an example.
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When I entered this item into Favorites I indicated:
-The store at which I usually buy it
-The aisle it is located in at that store
-The quantity I usually buy
-The price that store charges for the item
Generally speaking I always enter store and aisle info as far as I can but I only enter the price when it is something that I want to easily compare when I’m out at another store. For example, I know that the regular price for Hamburger Buns at Aldi is $0.79 so when I see a 10/10 sale I can check to make sure that is actually my best price.
Once you have your favorites all set up you choose from them to create an actual shopping list. If you are going to Food Lion first then you select Food Lion from the top.
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This is the Food Lion-specific shopping list.
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Because I spent a lot of time on my Favorites list and indicated: a) which stores I usually buy the item from, b) which aisle the item is located in and c) the order of the aisles within that particular store, I can start at the back of the store and work towards the front and I never BACKTRACK!!! It’s like grocery store heaven.
There is also an option to add items and not assign them a store and in that case you can select “Any Store” and non-categorized items will show up there or you can have them integrated into every list.
There is also an iPhone app for this so John can get it on his phone. When we shop (once every two weeks) we split up in the store and are both looking at the same list which updates immediately when someone checks something off. A total shopping game-changer.
If you don’t have a second iDevice of some variety then you can still email the list to the spouse who is at work or out somewhere.

I have not completely converted to e-books. Being a fan of books I will pretty much read in whatever format is handed to me. I’m an equal-opportunity reader. I don’t mind storing books on my shelves (I like it most of the time) but I do love the ease and accessibility of e-books. That being said, I am a 99.5% convert to e-Recipes and e-Cookbooks. When someone wants a recipe you should only have to type it out once. Or better yet emailing it directly from a recipe site. But even BETTER than that is emailing it from your personal collection in your “recipe app”. The only time I want a non-electronic recipe or cookbook is if there are handwritten notes from a grandmother or mother or sister or aunt, etc. In that case you must keep a paper binder or recipe box for those. But that is maybe .5% of the time. Hence, I am 99.5% converted.
This recipe-storing app is the best that I’ve come across. My top reason is the ease of uploading a recipe from the web. I’ll just start there. All of the larger recipe sites (Big Oven, All Recipes, Martha Stewart, etc.) it is simply the touch of a button, “Save this Recipe”. But what about those smaller sites? It is also very easy to get those recipes with Paprika’s “capture” option because the app has a built-in web-browser. Most other recipe apps require you to bounce back and forth between the internet and the app to copy and paste.
Photo Mar 23, 3 40 00 PM All you need to do is go through Paprika’s browser (very bottom of the screen) and put in the url of the site you want. When it comes up you just “copy” one section and then press the corresponding section on the app’s browser. When you have completed this you press, “Create Recipe” and you have…
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It puts it into the template that it uses for all it’s recipes so it becomes very simple to use. I love that you can add notes that you may get from a review online or just something you want to remember from personal experience.
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This is your personal recipe collection. Once you’ve added some recipes you can search by name, use the categories (tags) on the side – although you have to indicate within the recipe what you want to tag it as), or just scroll through your alphabetical list.
Take a look at the blue arrows in the screen above to see what you can do to each recipe from this view.
Here’s a view of the meal planning/grocery function. I think it’s quite well done, although I don’t use it very often because I prefer to have my meals on my master calendar and I prefer Grocery IQ as a shopping list. But the simplicity of this is appealing and I can imagine someone being perfectly satisfied with it.
You add meals to certain days and then add that day’s recipe ingredients to a master grocery list within the Paprika app.
You can also add a meal that is not in your recipe list that you know you want to make on a certain day. For example, I do not have my pancake recipe in here because that falls into the .5% of recipes that was the original handwritten one from my mom that I learned to cook pancakes with over 20 years ago. That one I would never go digital with. But, I may still want to enter it into my meal plan for the week and this app lets you do that.
The screen below shows that I have chosen the make Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta on Wednesday. I can now add all of those ingredients to my Paprika grocery shopping list.Photo Mar 23, 3 41 51 PM

You can choose to not include ingredients that you already have at home (really, who needs “5.5 cups of flour” on their grocery list?).
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On the left side of the screen below you can see all of the recipes that are included on this grocery list. The grocery list itself is a consolidated list of the ingredients from the chosen recipes. You can also add ingredients that are not in any of your chosen recipes but that you need anyway, making it possible for this app to be the only grocery-shopping list that you need.Photo Mar 23, 3 44 52 PM
There is also a cooking timer included in the app, a nice little touch.
With the combination of my bank’s app for the iPad and I have gained a whole new perspective and discipline with money ( is another web-based free service from the folks who write TurboTax and Quicken). The new perspective comes from seeing everything laid out in one place. You enter in every account you have from checking/saving to college saving to mortgage to credit cards to IRAs and then it gives you your net worth and keeps you up-to-date. That is a new thing for me since John was the big picture money manager and I was the nitty-gritty “Walmart-money” manager. And not really a great one, for that matter.

Photo Mar 23, 1 56 56 PMIn the screen above, at the bottom right-hand corner is what John was used to knowing about and what I was clueless about, a list of all of our accounts. Up in the right-hand corner you see the total spent for the month so far.  Most people probably keep decent track of that information anyway, but this is pur-dee. The graph in the middle is what I find particularly helpful.
Mint automatically categorizes your purchases (and does it pretty well, actually) and when it does something wrong it is very simple to correct it.
You can tap a category on the pie graph to see further details.  We will choose Food and Dining as an example.
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In the top right-hand corner it shows me the money I’ve spent in this category for the month so far.  I can now look at specific transactions to further investigate where my money is going to. It’s really an excellent visual.
I’ll choose one other category as an example: “Home”.
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Mint sent me an alert earlier this month telling me that I had spend 60% more in Home this month then I usually do. Well that was interesting. I though I should probably figure out why. So I clicked on the “See Details” section to break it down further.
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And when I look closer I saw that it was because we had new gutters installed. OK, so, there you go.
You can also choose to look at any individual category over the course of several months. So here we will look at my Home category from January-March to get a better idea of what our spending actually looks like on average.
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It also shows you your top spending categories, uses bar graphs for total spending or net income over the course of the year, and sends you alerts when something unusual happens in one your accounts.
There is a budget function that I choose not to utilize but it alerts you when you are close to going over budget in a particular category, and it is very easy to set up.
We use Mint for the big picture most of the time. For our month to month budget and we use PNC’s program, “Virtual Wallet”. We LOVE virtual wallet – sadly their app is way under par but we just go online through the iPad.
My favorite function is the “Wishlist” – which is housed in your savings account and you can divide into different categories. We have used it to save up for the aforesaid gutters, the iPad, the swingset, etc. I “feel” much more committed to saving for a specific item when I can see the total going up and the money is not all just sitting in one big pot. It’s psychological but for me money management is very much a head-game.
There are lots of demonstrations online of the Virtual Wallet so if you are interested in that then check it out.

OK, that’s all for now. I’m actually frightened to turn around from my desk and look at the house-damage. I definitely heard some loud whispering behind me, “Shhhh! Don’t bang the door, mommy will hear us!” and I’m ashamed to say that was about an hour ago and here I sit. Maybe I should just keep going so I don’t need to face the music. There’s always a price to pay…they are exacting task-masters.


  1. I have been enjoying these posts so thank you. The last paragraph made me laugh; it sounds a lot like our house.

  2. Yeah, you converted me to your grocery and recipe ways long ago... I LOVE paprika and its so-easy-an-exhausted-uncaffeinated-mom-can-do-it ways. I also love mint, but your description highlighs for me that you and I are different personality types. But I can say that Mint is also good for the not-so-organized types :) Keep these posts coming!!

  3. these posts have been super inspirational, thanks!

  4. I am really enjoying this series of posts!! And you have me convinced's time to start saving for an i-pad. :) Thanks so much for all the time you're investing in this series.

  5. Thank you for this series! I downloaded Grocery IQ and will have to set aside the time to set it up. I had tried setting up a master grocery list in Evernote, but it just doesn't work as smoothly as I'd like. It sounds like this will work much better!