Doing away with the family grocery list on the wall, the Siri way…

iStockphotoOne of the many benefits of having teenagers who can drive living in your home (or twenty-somethings in my case) is that you don’t need to do your own grocery shopping anymore. Just send them off with a list and a credit card and they approach the task with vigor—the novelty has not yet worn off. And as long as you are willing to pay for random teenager food that wasn’t on the list (e.g. the pricy pomegranate juice my nephew buys), it’s a pretty good gig.

As I was watching the two of them go over the list today I wondered why we couldn’t use our expensive iDevices to collaborate on the one and only grocery list. I was ready to buy some fancy family shopping list app and began to hunt around.

Then I found out that you can do this for free, with minimal effort, using Reminders and iCloud. Read on for details.

The Effect

The end result is everything I was hoping for:

  • Any one of the four of us can use our iPhone to view or change the grocery list
  • Whoever is shopping can check off the items as they are purchased
  • We can see in real time (more or less) when another changes the list
  • As an added bonus, I can tell Siri to “Please add Italian Seeded Bread to my grocery list” and it happens!


This works through Shared Reminders in iOS.

  • Create a Reminders list called Grocery in iCloud
  • Share the list with family members using the Shared Reminders feature

Apparently it isn’t so easy as making a list in your iDevice: they haven’t enabled creation of shared lists in iOS yet. You will have to use the OS X version of Reminders on the Mac to create the list.

For more details on creating the reminder list, see Share Reminders from OS X or (

Make sure you name the new reminder list Grocery if you want to tell Siri to add stuff to your “Grocery List”

Each family member will get an email from Apple saying that you have shared a reminder list with them. It works kind of like gifting an app to someone. When they click the button in the email, they will be prompted to log in to iCloud in Safari and the magic will happen.

From now on, whenever they tweak the shopping list, the changes will appear on your device in a matter of seconds.

The Demo

A gentleman named Mark Jaquith posted this cool YouTube video demonstration:

That’s all there is to it!

3 Responses to “Doing away with the family grocery list on the wall, the Siri way…”

  1. Anthony writes:

    Great idea and one I hadn’t thought of. My family (wife and I) have used Evernote for years for this, as it allows us to update from anywhere, whether we have Reminders available. That said, I am increasingly using Siri and Reminders and so, this tip might be a great help in using them effectively.

    By the by, the site is great and glad I found in about 3 weeks ago.

  2. Debbie writes:

    I have used “our groceries” app for about 2 years, which works and syncs across iPhones, iPads, droids, etc, AND across multiple users. You can make different list folders too (like Costco, Safeway, OfficeMax, etc). It also updates real time, and you can speak the grocery items. But you have to be on the list. It also remembers the items you once type in there, so 2 weeks later you need to add it again you just start typing and it will guess at what you are starting type.

  3. David writes:

    Great post! Now this is something I will be able to start using right away.

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