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Which grocery app is right for you? We put them to the test

It takes some wading through the crowded virtual aisles of grocery store apps to discover which ones can make your shopping experience better — and actually save you money at the market. We tested the same grocery list on each app in order to compare discounts and find the standout features that are worth your download:

Shutterstock / Kaspars Grinvalds
Shopping apps help people shop

Our test grocery list

  • Wheat bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • Sliced turkey breast
  • 1 gallon of low-fat milk
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 box of tampons
  • 1 roll paper towels

List Ease

List Ease

Don’t let the cute, cartoony interface fool you, this app has some real muscle. List Ease doubles as a grocery list building tool and an inventory tracker for your pantry that can alert you when provisions are running low. Most helpful? The app can be set to send you in-store reminders to ensure that you don’t forget anything on your list. You can also sync it to an Apple Watch.

Related: How I ate unprocessed food for a year on a budget — and how you can too

One drawback to note on List Ease is that you’ll have to print out any coupons you want from the app before you go to the store. When we checked current coupons against our grocery list, we could have saved 50 cents on a package of sliced turkey breast and 75 cents on a box of tampons.

GroceryIQ

Grocery IQ

Discounts offered by coupons.com (which powers GroceryIQ) are integrated right into the app, but you also have to print them out before you shop or create an account in order to load them onto your loyalty card.

GroceryIQ handily organizes all the coupon offers by category and allows you to view them right from your list. Using our list, the app had a coupon for 50 cents off of a package of sliced turkey breast and $1.50 off of two boxes of tampons (rather than the one we needed). One simple but great feature is a store locator that brings up the stores closest to you. That comes in handy, especially if you’re shopping outside of your normal area.

GroceryPal

Grocery Pal

A true friend if you enjoy comparison shopping, GroceryPal displays the in-store sales at big box stores near you. The app also offers coupons that can be used at any store and appeared to have the most offers of the apps we tested.

Related: Fall produce guide: See what's in season and how to cook it

Safeway had the best in-store deals from our grocery list, including apples for $1.49 a pound, 50 cents off of shredded Swiss cheese and 50 cents off of one box of tampons. Browsing the manufacturers’ coupons, we could have added an offer for 50 cents off of a package of sliced turkey breast and 50 cents off of one box of tampons. Combining the in-store sales with outside coupons yielded the highest savings.

SavingStar

SavingStar

The most unique app on the list, SavingStar offers its own exclusive discounts instead of manufacturers’ coupons, depositing your savings into a virtual account that can be cashed out to your own bank account or PayPal once you’ve accrued at least $5. It can be a little bit of a process to navigate those savings, however. If you’re shopping with a loyalty card at qualifying stores, those discounts are automatically noted as you buy, but if you’re not using a card you need to take a picture of your receipt and submit it to the app.

This app may best serve you if you look through the offers before composing your grocery list. When we tested our list on SavingStar, there was an offer to save $4 worth of Sargento shredded cheese products, but we would have had to purchase $20 worth at that moment, which was much more than we needed. But there was also a tempting “healthy offer” of 20 percent off of loose oranges, which wasn’t on our list but is something we probably would have bought on impulse for good value. Best of all, the app occasionally will throw in a “100 percent off freebie” that you can score if you’re lucky.

The winner:

All of these apps are worth a try as they can potentially help you build smarter and more economical shopping lists as well as assist in cultivating healthier habits overall. While they each offer certain advantages that might be ideal for your needs, our favorite is List Ease. It’s not only an efficient shopping and saving tool but a powerful pantry management system that will bring a whole new level of organization to your kitchen.

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How to save big money on groceries

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