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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Managing Your Grocery Shopping List Using iPhone Reminders

If you don’t have an iPhone, then let me apologize in advance for today’s post. It’s pretty much useless to you, unless you get an iPhone one day and then you need to be sure to come back and read this! For those of you sporting iPhones, I am so excited about today’s post and I hope you’ll find it as useful as I do!

How to use Reminders on your iPhone to manage your weekly grocery list from @janemaynard

My neighbor Joan was telling me a few weeks ago how she uses Reminders on her iPhone to manage her grocery shopping list. She was describing how she uses it and it sounded pretty cool, so I gave it a try. Joan was right! Reminders is perfect for building a shopping list you can use week after week. The list is saved each week and it’s easy to make visible only the items you need for a particular shopping trip and then checking them off. I thought I’d run through the steps for how to use it and highlight why it’s so cool in the steps.

1. Open Reminders on your iPhone.

iphone reminders grocery list step 1

2. Click on “New List” at the top.

iphone reminders grocery list step 2

3. Name your list. I went super fancy and called my shopping list “Grocery Store”. You can also select the color you want the header to be, if you’re into coordinating your Reminder lists by color (which I am).

iphone reminders grocery list step 3

4. Start typing in your items. Easy peasy!

5. After you’ve entered in all the items for your shopping list, click “Done” on the top right.

iphone reminders grocery list step 3

6. Click “Edit” on the top right to reorder the items on your list (using the little parallel lines on the right-hand side to move things around). Order your list however you want. I chose to order the items by what section of the store they are in. I also add in parentheses what store I prefer to buy certain items at, just for my own reference.

7. Now you have your list and it’s time to go shopping! Go through and check off any items on your list that you do NOT need that week, then select “Hide completed” at the bottom. Sometimes you need to click the title of the list at the top to go to the Reminders home screen and then click back into the list to reset the list and make the “Hide Completed” and “Show Completed” button show at the bottom.

iphone reminders grocery list step 5

8. Go to the store and check off items as you shop. If you have “Hide Completed” selected they will disappear like magic!

9. When it’s time for the next shopping trip, choose “Show Completed” and uncheck the items you need that week. It should automatically reorder to how you originally organized the list – if it doesn’t, just click the list title to get to Reminders home screen then click back into the grocery list and it should be all good!

My goal is to put EVERYTHING I ever shop for at the grocery store on this one list. That means the first few times you go to the store, you’ll be constantly adding items you remember and re-ordering the list, but once it’s all put together it will be SO awesome and worth the work (and, honestly, it’s not very hard work). Note: when you are adding items and reordering them, you will need to have ALL the items on the list unchecked (so, NOT completed) to make sure you are putting them in the spot where you think they are going.

Hopefully this all makes sense! As soon as you start playing with it I promise it will. Here’s to happy grocery lists for 2015!

Update 1/18/15: 

  • My friend Jamie excitedly texted me this morning saying she had just set up lists in her reminders and it was perfect! She actually set up separate lists for the different grocery stores (a Trader Joe’s list, a Von’s list, etc). I thought that was a great idea and wanted to share!
  • Android users: Be sure to check out Comment #6 below, where Kay describes and app called Google Keep and how she uses it for grocery shopping.
  • Comment #7 below also shares another great iPhone app with sharing capability. If two people in your household equally do the shopping, I would definitely check it out. I know Reminders has a sharing aspect to it, but I’ve yet to try it out and see how well it works.


  1. 1
    Kathy J

    I use this same method on my Ipad. I also categorized everything by the section of the store the items are found. The only problem I have found is that once I mark it as “completed”, they don’t stay in the same order.
    Love the technology!

    • that’s weird it’s not reordering back for you…mine does, but I have to re-mark everything UNcompleted to sort of reset it to the original order. regardless, I agree, technology can be so helpful! 🙂

  2. 2
    Tina Ray

    OMG this is a beautiful thing. I never used this app because I wasn’t very intuitive (ahem patient) enough to get to know it. I shop at Aldi and my grocery list is pretty much boiler plate and it is organized to the store. This is by far the most useful tool on my phone thus far.

  3. 3

    Holy mackerel! I have been creating a grocery list (along with a ton of other lists) within the Reminders tab, but only using 1 tab for all my reminders, sort of like bullet points for each thing. I recently did the ios update, and I never once thought of using individual tabs for my different lists. You’re a genius!

  4. This is wonderful!! I am all about meal prepping because it not only saves money, but time as well. This is going to make shopping and prepping so much easier! Great tips!!

  5. 5
    Christy Spurlock

    Such an awesome idea. No more post it notes and little pieces of paper getting lost everywhere. I can make notes if I have paper/on-line coupons or Target Cartwheel coupons! Love Love Love! Great tip!

  6. 6

    Hi – if you ever convert to Android or if there’s any Android readers out here, check out the app Google Keep. It is a dynamic list/thought keeper. It’s best feature is being able to share lists with others and collaborate. So in my home we share a list and cross things off as anyone works through them. This solved the problem of having a grocery or to-do list and leaving it at home on the whiteboard! There’s also feature to color code each list and set reminders.

  7. 7

    My wife and I use an app called Couple which is promoted as a social network for two. It has a list feature which we use to build our grocery list during the week. When either one of us notices something that we need to buy we add it to the list then whoever gets to the store can make the purchase and check it off of the list. We have other shared lists, e.g. a non-grocery list for things to buy at other stores, a list of movies we are interested in seeing, a list of items we need to remember to take with us when we are going on vacation, etc.

    • great tip, thank you so much! I know reminders has a sharing aspect to it, but I think it sounds like Couple is much better (the sharing wasn’t entirely intuitive when I clicked through to it quickly in Reminders). Just added a little note to the post so people will be sure to see your comment!

  8. 8

    Well, I finally found it and I will try this method out. I’ve been using Notes to make my lists.

    This might be more organized.

  9. I wish iPhone Reminders allowed us to color-code each item in a list, so that I could color urgent stuff (cat food) and non-urgent stuff (ancho pepper for a future killer bbq rub) – you get the idea. If anyone knows how to hack the app to do this (or another app that’s as beautiful as Apple’s), I’ll be looking for replies. Thanks.

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