On the Mend Thanks to Santa Maria's Health Tea
The Story of the Move and New Roast Chicken Recipe

Easing the Pain of Shopping: Or How Not to Forget the Milk

As I mentioned on Friday, while drinking Santa Maria's Health Tea and recovering from my 104 degree fever, I would have a guest post today about the use of technology around the house. I'm very interested in learning about what applications can make life easier. One reader swears by Springpad. What do you like to use? Please let me know.

In the meantime, here's how one family keeps the larder full. The post is by my friend John, a working dad from Brooklyn who happily cooks for his two rambunctious five-year-old girls and wife.

The modern world is busy. Add children to the mix and well, you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster if you, say, forget to buy basics, or the all essential bacon for the planned Spaghetti Carbonara. There’s nothing like two hungry five-year-olds at the table waiting for MIA Cheerios/and or milk to make for stress filled Tuesday morning. Ah, but technology can help!

In our house, at least, shopping is a shared responsibility. Yes, it’s easier if one person takes responsibility for planning the week’s menu, checking the fridge and pantry, making the list and then doing the shopping. But life often intrudes—Who’s working late? Who’s got to take the girls to the play date? Who needs a break from the routine?

We quickly ran into a basic logistical conundrum, however. The crumpled piece of paper in the pocket is a tried and true method, but the hand-off is vital; if it’s in my pocket rather than my wife Frigga’s purse when she’s at the supermarket...well, that’s when you find there’s no milk in the fridge. We tried keeping a list on a whiteboard in the kitchen, to which both Frigga and I could add items as needed (Don’t forget to pick up milk tonight honey!) But when you both work, a list nailed to the kitchen wall isn’t that useful. In the end, hi-tech shopping aps came to the rescue.

There are a number of shopping list programs available for many platforms. Both Frigga and I have iPhones for which there are, it seems, several million shopping list aps. Some are extremely complex and capable, but come with a price tag. We are cheapskates though, so we settled on a free program, ShopShop, which provides a level of functionality that works for us.

I’d encourage you to look at others, because you might find its limitations frustrating. As the principal cook, I’ve taken primary responsibility for the menu planning (with much consultation of course!), the list, and the shopping. The key advantage for us is that I can maintain the list as needed, adding items when it occurs to me (oops, we’re running low on flour). But, if Frigga does the shopping, I can email the list to her, she can open it up on her phone and then manipulate it (change the order, delete, add, etc.) as she wants.

It’s a small thing, but it has made our lives just that little bit less complicated, and who doesn’t want that?

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