A Vision of a Better Grocery List

Just to show how versatile Trello can be I want to share one of the personal projects I built with it this week: a family Grocery List.

We’re a family of five.  Grocery shopping for that many people is the urban equivalent of big game hunting.  Minimizing trips to the store is key to staying on budget in terms of money and time.  That means making sure everyone’s wants and needs for the week are collected into the weekly grocery list.

In the past we used pen and paper but inevitably whoever was collecting everything into one master list would miss something, regardless of how many times they grilled each member of the family to find out what should be added.  We needed a way to centrally track everyone’s additions as soon as they thought of them.  Something that could go everywhere with everyone and be available to whomever was doing the shopping that week.

Enter Trello.

I’ve been a fan of Trello for work related project management for a couple of years now.  It is great for managing software development and IT projects but I wondered if I could put this Kanban tool to work in a more mundane practice.  Could it be the ultimate grocery list tool?

Why yes it could.

So here’s the step by step on setting up your own collaborative grocery list tool with Trello for you and yours.

Get Started

First things first.  If you don’t have a Trello account get over to Trello.com and sign up for one.  It’s free.  And after you’ve seen what it can do you’ll be using it quite a bit.

Create Your Team

You can use Trello as an individual but for the family grocery list you’re going to want to setup your family as a team.

Once you’re logged in click the “+” button to drop down a list of options.

Click the Create Personal Team option to launch the team creation wizard and start adding family members to your team.






Add the name and description of your team and click the create button to finish creating it.

You will land in the team page.

Click the Members tab and then click the “Add by Name or Email” to start adding family members to your team.

Once you’ve added all your family members it’s time to create your board to hold your Grocery list.  Click the Boards tab and then click the “Create Board” button.

This brings up the Create Board dialog where you can name your board.

Click the “Create” button to finish creating the board. You will land in the Kanban board for the grocery list.

Add the following lists by typing each of the following headers into the “Add a list…” text boxes and pressing enter: Need, To Buy, Bought, and May Need again.

Your board is ready for your family to begin adding items.

But Wait!  There’s More!

You could stop here.  But right now you’ve barely scratched the surface.  You’re just one step beyond paper and pen at this point and I promised this would be the ultimate grocery list solution.  So what’s next?  I’m glad you asked.

Label Items With Their Stores

Trello items can be labeled.  This makes it possible for you to have items from multiple stores labeled for easy reference.  And if an item is available at more than one store?  You can add multiple labels to it to represent each store.

For the demo here I’ll show three labels:  Red for “Bulls-eye”, Blue for “Wally World”, and Yellow for “Office Colossus”.

You can add more labels for all of the stores you and your family frequent.  When I add items to my board it comes out looking like this.

But which paper-clips should I get?  Is it the organic bananas or chemically enhanced ones?  That’s where the last feature I’m going to show you makes Trello truly the Ultimate Grocery List tool.

Add Pictures!

That’s right!  No more questioning whether it’s the blue bottle or the green bottle.  Snap a picture of the item you want and add it right to your grocery list item.  Bingo you’ve got a visual guide as to what needs to be bought.

And Beyond…

You can keep enhancing your list to make it even more useful for you and your family.  Edit the description to include prices.  Add comments to track the last time you bought it.  Mention @familymembers to let them know they need to pick something up or ask them if you are running low on a certain item.

There are plenty of ways to add more to make this even more useful.

Happy Shopping Everyone!

— Nat

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