In the beach staycation How Much? article, I used an app called Grocery Pal, to estimate the cost of buying supplies for a small BBQ. For estimate purposes, this app works fine but how good does the app really perform in helping you build out a shopping list built on savings and discounts? July is basically national BBQ month and I consider myself an intermediate level pitmaster, so I decided to test out the Grocery Pal app in putting together a BBQ shopping list. The list included five specific items: brisket, St. Louis style ribs, beef hot dogs, hot dog and hamburger buns, and natural charcoal. The rest of the list I either already had or already made other plans to purchase. So how did Grocery Pal do?
First of all, the Grocery Pal is available on Android and Apple devices for free which is definitely a pro. According to the app description, Grocery Pal “helps you find weekly sales at your local supermarkets and discount stores.” The app lets you search for specific or generic items, sort them by store, and then add them to a shopping list. It also sources digital coupons, presents a list of specials, organizes shopping list by aisle, lets you add products to a shopping list by barcode and lets you send lists via email or text. Using the five-item list, I was able to search and find deals everything on my list but brisket. The results of my search:
- From Target: beef hot dogs two packs for $7
- From Sprouts: all-natural farm fresh St. Louis spare ribs for $2.99 a pound and hot dog and hamburger buns two packs for $5
- From Save-A-Lot: Campesino Mesquite Charcoal, $3.99 for a 8lb bag
List completed, it was time to hit the road to truly find out if these deals were legit. So what did Grocery Pal get right?
At Sprouts the two for $5 hot dog and hamburger buns were right at the front entrance. At Target, the beef hot dogs were as listed in the app as well. So far, Grocery Pal was right on the mark.
2 for 4 is a good start but unfortunately the start ended up being better than the finish. Back at Sprouts, I searched and searched and I asked for assistance, but the $2.99 a pound St. Louis spare ribs were nowhere to be found. There was an alternative though- baby back ribs for the same amount Grocery Pal listed the St. Louis spare ribs as. I wondered if Grocery Pal’s listing was a simple typo or if the original deal sold out. Going with baby backs at the same price seemed fair, so this was an OK substitution. It appears Grocery Pal was showing a few kinks in the armor and then things got worse.
I don’t live close to Save-A-Lot so I had a little bit of a drive to get there. I walked in and immediately saw charcoal but it wasn’t the brand listed in the app and it wasn’t the natural kind I use either. I walked every isle of the store looking for the charcoal and couldn’t locate it. This listing was totally off and I was disappointed in my long out of the way drive that yielded nothing.
The interface of the app itself is another thing that goes in the con category. There is an option to create a list and then yet another option to create a shopping list. Confused yet? I was for a while. When I thought I was adding items to the shopping list, I was actually adding them to a separate list that basically just saves all your searches. From this list, I had to add each item to the actual shopping list, which seemed like one to many steps. During this process of building out the actual shopping list, the app crashed several times as I added and removed items, which made the process even more frustrating.
For my money, Grocery Pal is definitely on the list of apps I’ll keep on my phone. The app was basically 3 for 4 in getting the items correct which I was pleased with. Driving across town for a deal and not finding the item was disappointing, but I suppose a call ahead to the store to verify the deal the app is showing can save you a drive. I also look forward to testing out the shared list function so me and the wife can make sure we’re both finding deals.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Dimes