Grocery Price Book Apps

As you may know, I’m a big fan of using a grocery price book to keep food costs down.  Since I find it too overwhelming to catalog everything, I try to keep tabs on the top 50 or so non-perishable items that my family eats.  Peanut butter, ketchup, chocolate chips, canned fruit, soup, pasta, pasta sauce…you get the picture.  Just saving 10% on these items can make a big dent in my food spending, and it isn’t hard to do better than 10%.

It’s even easier if you have a smart phone, or so they tell me.

I just gave in a bought a smart phone, and the grocery price book app was one reason that I justified its purchase.  Now I’m searching for the right app for my family.  My considerations are a little unique, because we are overseas.  I don’t need to download sales flyers from my local chains, I just need to enter information from the stores nearby to my house.  In addition, I can only use coupons at the commissary, so I don’t need any doubling/tripling information.  My needs are pretty basic, basically just a fancy spreadsheet where I can enter the price of each product at each store, compare prices between stores, and know when a sale is a good one.  And, course, I want them to be free to start.  Entering a shopping list would be nice, but I don’t need to sync with other lists yet because so far this is the only smart phone in the Kashman world.

I’ve been searching the internet, and there are so many choices!  I’ve got an Android phone and there appear to be nearly 100 different apps available.  After wasting spending an hour reading reviews, I have decided to try two very different options:  Out of Milk and Grocery-Tracker.  Different options appeal to me in each program.  Grocery-Tracker seems more what I want, but Out of Milk a few specific features that look great.

Grocery Tracker

Grocery Tracker’s web site is pretty bare bones and I found it hard to navigate.  However, I was drawn by the advertised price tracker and price comparisons.  Besides, I’m looking for simple, right?  I decided to download the software but discovered that I didn’t know how to download software.  Another hour wasted spent on the internet finally brought up the directions that I needed to download the application onto my phone.

I started by trying to inventory my spices, just for practice.  I discovered that Grocery Tracker can use a bar code scanner if you have one installed.  Once I had the bar code scanner installed, I tried to scan my spices into the inventory.  Frustration ensued.  I finally gave up on the scanner and entered my Old Bay seasoning manually. It wasn’t too hard, but I couldn’t figure out a way to indicate that it was only half full.

For the second test, I worked on a price book entry for peanut butter.  Scanner still wouldn’t work, so I entered the bar code manually and it brought up the peanut butter.    I worked on the details for a bit, and tried to put it to a shopping list.  This entire project wasn’t going to well.  I thought I’d take a break by trying the other app in question.

Out of Milk

The two features that attracted me to Out of Milk were its bar code scanner, and its spice inventory.  I am forever buying a second bottle of some obscure spice like fennel seeds or coriander.  Definitely wasted money there!  Now that I had mastered downloading applications, it only took me about 15 minutes of wrestling to get it downloaded, register with the Out of Milk site, and start entering my spices.

I don’t know if it was because the bar code reader was already installed, but it scanned my Old Bay seasoning in about 2 milliseconds.  I then went in to edit the product name and then indicate that it was about half full.  Awesomeness!  I am definitely going to like this feature.

The grocery list was another issue.  It scanned my empty Skippy jar easily enough, but I wasn’t delighted with the features it presented.  I could enter the quantity that I wanted, and its unit price for one location, and I could categorize it.  I could even check if it was a tax free item.  What I could not do was enter prices for multiple stores, or link it with a similar product that could be used as a substitute.

After about four hours, I’d successfully downloaded two apps, entered two food items, and hadn’t seen any evidence that either one met my desires.  If you have an app that is great, let me know.  Otherwise, I’ll keep trying these and searching out more.  Fun times, my friends!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • ScienceMom

    I use Out of Milk, and I LOVE it. There is a notes section, and I put my prices at the various stores there. I do get strange looks though when I’m in the store scanning an item with my phone :)

  • Elizabeth

    As you know, every app (and program, and website) has a “learning curve,” not to mention advantages, disadvantages and gaping holes you wish were filled! Give it a couple months of working with them, then let us know your experience. In the meantime, I’ve downloaded and installed Out of Milk, myself, and will try to get back in a reasonable period of time in comments!

  • Lisa

    Try the new “Sharky Shopping” in Google play — it tracks price information any product you wish to follow. Allows you to input product prices by date, store, brand, size and price, and automatically calculates a unit price for that product. Nothing fancy (no barcode reader, etc.), but it does the job very well!

  • Hel M.
  • Hel M.