One of the cool things about Alexa is that she can make lists for you. Just finished the last of the milk (*cough* icecream *cough*) and want to remind yourself to pick some up? Just say “Alexa, add Chunky Monkey to the shopping list” and she’ll add it to your shopping list.
But that list is only accessible via the Alexa app and the Alexa app isn’t great for lists. You’ve got to navigate through a couple submenus to get to the lists and there’s no way to organize things easily. Plus when you’ve got a whole weeks worth of shopping to add to it, you’re either going to go hoarse reciting all the items or your finngers will get tired. There has to be a better way.
There is a better way!
When you go into Alexas settings, there are five external applications it can use to manage your lists. I looked at several of them and picked AnyList based on reviews and features. Also price, I’m not made of money.
AnyList has a lot going for it but the biggest selling point for me was it’s focus on the list people use most. Grocery shopping. Lists can be categorized or simple, and there is a selection for groceries which has the categories already populated. Categories let you group like items together in your list so that you aren’t jumping all over the place.
But wait, there’s more! AnyList takes the repetitive strain out of data entry by letting you store your recipes in the application itself. You select the recipe you want, then press “add all ingredients to list” and poof! Like magic everything you need to create the meal is now on your shopping list.
“But Jay,” you say “don’t I still need to do all that horrible typing to create the recipes in the first place?” No! AnyList has an import feature that lets you pull them right off your favourite websites. If you are browsing Allrecipes.com on your phone and find something you like, just hit the sharing button and send it to the app. On your PC and found something Alton Brown made on Foodnetwork.com you want to try? They have a browser extension that will grab it off the page and load it in your own personal recipe book.
As an added bonus, AnyList will throw in a meal planner. That’s right. Choose the day of the week and use recipes from your book to assign as breakfast, lunch or diner, then export the ingredients for a weeks worth of meals all at once to your shopping list.
Still not convinced? How about if your entire family could view and edit the list, recipes and meal plan each from their own device? AnyList has a family plan that lets you share any or all of those things with other users. You can decide which lists to share and with whom, as well as who can view and edit your meal plan (spouse yes, kids no, so that they don’t replace every meal with pizza). It also updates the shared lists in real time and notifies the other people on it. So, create a list of things to buy on the way home. If you get a notification that the list has been updated and you’re not the one at home… Tag! You’re it.
It’s a wonderful little application that works on PC, MAC, iOS, Android and even my watch. The basic app is, free, but for some of the more advanced features like importing from the web and the meal planning calendar, you need to pay a yearly subscription fee. For the most expensive subscription, AnyList Complete with the family option, it will cost $11.99 for the year. Yep, a whopping $1 a month. Personally I think that’s pretty reasonable for the development that went into it, and the fact that they have to pay for servers to handle all the synchronization messages, but I’ve actually seen people complain about it in their reviews on the App Store. Some people seem to think everything should be free.
It works with both Alexa and Siri (don’t know about Googles voice assistant, but I would assume so). Alexa integration is simple, just pick it from the settings and enter your AnyList credentials. Integration with iOS devices can be done in two ways. One is turning on Siri Support, but then you have to start all requests with “Siri, ask AnyList to…” which is fine, but less natural sounding than just “Siri, add Chunky Monkey to my Shopping list”. They give you a way around that though. Turn on Reminder App Import and the application will create a sort of buffer list in the iOS native reminders app, and empty the contents into AnyList when you next open it.
Sadly, Ben and Jerrys no longer sells Chunky Monkey in Canada.
Edit: This article has been edited to correct an error regarding the subscription plans.