When it comes to using ChatGPT, to say there are a lot of uses would be the understatement of the century. In fact, if you can think of a use case, there is a chance ChatGPT can help. One of these use cases, potentially a surprising one, is using ChatGPT to shop for groceries.
It might not be the first use case for ChatGPT, but the opportunity to create a shopping list and meal plan with ChatGPT is, in a word, outstanding. With the ability to provide an almost limitless amount of recommendations, ChatGPT is a surprisingly great shopping partner. To put this to the test, I tried to create a whole week’s worth of recipes and grocery recommendations using various ChatGPT prompts.
Let’s find out just how well I’ll be eating this week using ChatGPT.
Why You Should Use ChatGPT for Grocery Shopping
As you think through your regular method of grocery shopping, there is a good chance you are using a variety of methods. Perhaps it’s looking at what’s on sale at your favorite local grocery or making a list of items you buy weekly. Regardless of how you put together a list, ChatGPT is going to be a whole new experience for everyone.
When it comes to the why part of the question around using ChatGPT, the answer is simple. It’s smart. Super smart. ChatGPT-3.5, the free version can search through the internet up to January 2022, so it has a ton of information available to help curate the right grocery list for you.
Better yet, as you will see in a moment, using ChatGPT to ask a series of questions can help it push out recommendations that are healthier than any of your “regular” meal choices.
Making a Basic Grocery List
The first step on my grocery list adventure with ChatGPT was to make an actual grocery list. Now, this could be as simple as typing “make me a grocery list” into ChatGPT and seeing what comes up.
However, I want to curate the prompt a little so let’s see what happens when I try something. In this case, I used this prompt: “Make a grocery list based on a household of 4 people. We love chicken, steak, hamburgers, pizza, and pasta as well as healthier options like vegetables, fruit, and turkey. We need enough food for at least 6 days.”
With the results, we have the beginnings of a grocery list that can feed a whole family for a week. The query results indicate buying enough chicken breasts, lean steak, and other meats for 6 days. There are also options for healthy sides like quinoa and Greek yogurt for breakfast. For snacks, ChatGPT recommends different nuts like almonds and walnuts as well as whole-grain crackers and hummus for dipping veggies.
Refining Your Results
Now, you can take this a little further by better refining your ChatGPT query. So, I’ll take my original prompt from above and add a few additional details. “Make a grocery list based on a household of 4 people. The family includes two adults and 2 young children under 10 who love cereal, popcorn chicken, waffles, and pancakes. We love chicken, steak, hamburgers, pizza, and pasta as well as healthier options like vegetables, fruit, and turkey. We need enough food for at least 6 days. I like to shop at Target for most of my items and Publix for any fruits, meats, and vegetables.”
By refining my query, you can see ChatGPT is providing a more in-depth list for shopping. This time it’s better organized with numbers that I can easily cross off when completed. As a nice bonus for me, it’s breaking down what I should pick up at Target versus Publix. This is pretty much what I do every week as I go from store to store completing my list. Target also has a Starbucks inside, so it’s a win-win for Target.
Creating Meal Recipes
While you might be tempted to just use ChatGPT to create more simplified grocery lists as above, I took it one step further. In today’s world, we’re all about saving time. One of the best ways I can think of to use ChatGPT to help me save time is to identify recipes that will make everyone in the family happy. As you can imagine, with kids, picky eating is definitely a thing. There is no question I can spend time Googling around looking for recipes, but again, I’m trying to save time. This time-saving isn’t just about the cooking, but also about identifying the recipes.
With this last thought in mind, let’s try and ask ChatGPT to help us identify some recipes. We’ll start by giving ChatGPT a list of the foods my family loves and see what it spits out. My query looks something like “Please provide a list of some food recipes I can use to cook dinner for the whole family. Here is a list of the foods we generally like to have for dinner.” I’ll now add a list of some of the foods my family enjoys for dinner.
What I love most about this query is that ChatGPT is attempting to identify some meals it thinks my family will like. It’s also breaking down each recipe by the ingredients I will need, which makes it super easy to plug them into a shopping list app and be in and out of a grocery store much faster than normal.
Ask For Similar Recipes
Another opportunity I quickly discovered while experimenting with ChatGPT for grocery shopping is how easy it is to ask for similar ideas. In this case, I’m going to take the search results from above and ask them for similar recipes. Not only does this give me a whole new food list, but it also makes sure we don’t make the same meals twice. So, my prompt will look something like the following: “Provide similar recipes that stick to these basic ideas above while also continuing to be healthy. Make sure to provide the exact ingredients I need for each. Can you also explain how I should be cooking these recipes?”
You now have a bunch of different results that show how you can use different food items. As I know these are recipes the family loves, I can change things up to ensure some variety during the week. I’m not so sure about the Turkey and Spinach Meatball Lettuce Wraps for my kids, but stranger things have happened!
What matters most with these results is that I have a specific breakdown of all the ingredients I need again. This makes going to the grocery super easy and I can be in and out without spending a fortune. Not only that, but I have the exact instructions on how to cook, so time is being saved all around. What is also notable here is this entire search process took about 45 seconds to think of the prompts and read the results. There is no question that time is being saved over googling for the right recipe, looking at different sites, finding the right recipes to try, writing them all down, and adding them into a Word document.
Creating a Meal Plan
Now, let’s just say I was shopping for myself and wanted to create a meal plan. Whether it’s because I want to get healthy or want to save time and money, a meal plan is a brilliant idea. The fun part is creating a meal plan with ChatGPT is far, far easier than trying to cobble one together with Google. So, here’s my prompt: “I want you to act as my personal chef. Create a 5-day meal plan that only includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner based on my food preferences”.
This wasn’t a bad first draft, but I’m really not a fan of quinoa or whole-wheat pancakes. So let’s try and refine the results a little. I’ll respond back to ChatGPT along the lines of “I am not a big fan of quinoa or whole wheat pancakes. Can you refine the results and make them more general in nature as I like basic foods? Please output the meal plan as a clean table I can easily copy and paste into a Word document.”
Okay, so these results are looking pretty good! However, I’m not sure how to prepare all of these meals. So, we’re going to ask ChatGPT to “Can you give me the recipe and ingredients for all of the meals listed? Please output the results as a table for easily copying to a Word document.”
I love it! This output really works as ChatGPT breaks down all the ingredients I need for each meal. Not only that, but it also separated everything by breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Why Use ChatGPT Over Google
An increasingly common conversation these days is why you would want to use ChatGPT over Google. The answer is quite simple as you can do so much more with ChatGPT in far less time. It’s true that ChatGPT won’t always provide a reliable answer so you may have to fact-check it from time to time. However, this is usually more applicable when writing a killer essay than grocery shopping.
If you were to try a similar query in Google as you did with ChatGPT, something as basic as “create a grocery list for my family of 4,” the results are not nearly as immediate. What you get are articles from popular sites like BuzzFeed, Pinterest, and other various blog sites that provide broad examples of a grocery list. There is no personalization through Google, at least not without doing plenty of additional legwork. The bottom line is that ChatGPT is far, far better to use.
The Takeaway: Will I Continue to Use ChatGPT for Grocery Shopping?
The question of whether I want to use ChatGPT for grocery shopping in the future is a tricky one. For the most part, my weekly grocery shopping list looks the same from week to week. There just isn’t a huge amount of variety on my list anymore. In this regard, ChatGPT won’t be much help. However, when there are moments I want to look at adding some variety, identifying different recipes, or creating a meal plan, there is no question that ChatGPT is the way to go.
While the responses won’t always be perfect and you may have to add some additional detail to your queries, the results in this grocery shopping test have been surprisingly strong. I can’t really identify a moment here where ChatGPT went wrong. My lack of interest in quinoa really wasn’t the fault of ChatGPT when I asked for healthy items. I simply removed them from the query and, voila, a new meal plan was available within seconds.
So, what’s the final takeaway? ChatGPT isn’t going to dramatically change my grocery shopping, but it worked far better than I might have expected. I’m going to call that a win for AI and the future.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©hedgehog94/Shutterstock.com.