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Out of Milk: An Excellent Shopping List App With One Tiny Flaw

October 30, 2017

When you're keeping track of a busy life and household, you need help with the shopping. Those trips to the supermarket, department store, and electronics outlet can get expensive if you don't make shopping lists. With Out of Milk, you can kiss most of that worry good bye.

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When you use Out of Milk, you're working with an app that's designed with shoppers in mind. It's simple, fast, and easy to use, allowing you to enter new items with just a few taps and some typing.

Out of Milk supports three types of lists: shopping, pantry, and to-do. Within the shopping list, you're able to jot down things you need to buy, categorizing them and marking how many you need. The pantry helps you keep track of those commonly-used food items (or whatever) that you have on hand. In the To-Do list, you can keep track of those tasks you need to complete and when they're due.

The real power of the app for shopping comes after you've entered something into your list. If you tap on that item, you'll be able to set things like how many of it you want to buy and the price. You can even put in coupons you might have for that item, and whether it's going to be taxed.

You can also categorize your items, specifying things like where you might find them or what they're for. Out of Milk is able to handle as many lists as you want to create, so you can use it for your weekly trip to the grocery store as well as your Christmas shopping, all without any mixups or confusion.

In the pantry view, you can create a list for yourself of what you have in your pantry, and how much. You're able to enter how many eggs you have, for example, or whether your butter dish is full or low.

A shopping budget and list in one app

The Good

The Good

One of the nicest things about Out of Milk is its focus on making generating your shopping list quick and easy. Rather than typing everything in that you need to shop for, this app supports scanning UPC barcodes.

That means all you have to do is go through your kitchen, scanning the barcodes for things you want to buy. Of course, if you don't have a barcode handy (or if it isn't recognized), you can still enter your items in by hand.

Out of Milk even maintains a history of things you've had on your shopping lists in the past. So, you can always just search for your things there. There are multiple ways you can add items to your shopping list, and all of them are easy to do.

With Out of Milk, you can also create multiple lists, or a suite of categories to organize your lists. In fact, if you're typing in something that another Out of Milk user has categorized in the past, it will automatically be put in that category. The app is easy to use, intuitive, but it has a simplicity that belies how robust it truly is.

At the store, either virtually or in person, you can start ticking items off your list. Out of Milk even keeps track of how much you're spending. After you add things to your list, tapping on them allows you to tell the app how much each items costs, how much you need to buy, and even whether sales tax applies to that item.

Once that's done, you'll see a "List Total" at the bottom of the screen. It tells you what the total cost should be for all of the items on that list, along with how many things you're looking to buy.

As you tick the things off your list, Out of Milk moves them from your active list to a completed section (called the cart on the Out of Milk website). When you start checking off items, you'll see another section of the bottom of the app's screen start to update — the Cart Total and the Items in Cart.

This section helps you keep track of how much you're spending in the store or in that online purchase. You won't have any sticker shock when you get to the checkout counter or page, because you'll already know the total.

The Bad

The Bad

The only negative I can find in Out of Milk lies in the Pantry tab. This tab is meant to help you keep track of what you have on hand at any given time.

You can add things to your Pantry, filling in information like the price, how much you have, and the category. Popularly-added items will show up in the bar as you type, so you can often bypass filling in the whole name of the item. Most of these predefined items will also be categorized, making your pantry list quite neat and organized.

So, what's the problem, you ask? Well, while you can quite easily find things and add them to your pantry, keeping tabs on what you might be low on, the way you quickly put those items into a shopping list is counter-intuitive.

To add items to a shopping list, you check them off. That runs contrary to just about everything most people understand about shopping lists, since checking something off usually means you're done with it.

You have to really think about what the Pantry list means. This is a list of things you do have. If you are out of it, you mark it as gone — then you'll have the option to add that item to a shopping list. It requires a bit more thought (or, in my case, experimentation) than is usual, and there's no introductory tutorial when you open the app for the first time to help you understand that.

The verdict

The verdict

Once you get the hang of using Out of Milk, it's one of the better to-do and shopping list apps available. It has plenty of features, keeps track of prices for you, and allows you to enter items by scanning their barcodes. That makes it one of the easiest shopping list apps to use, and being able to create a pantry list of commonly-used things in your kitchen, then transfer those to a shopping list, shows that the developers of Out of Milk really want to up the ante for their competitors.

Lasting appeal 10
iPhone Integration 10
Does it well 10
Is engaging 8
User Interface 6.5
Out of Milk - Shopping List
Bonial International GmbH