In this post, I tell you how to make a master grocery list of the basic essentials you need for your weekly or monthly family food shop. I show you my basic grocery shopping list as an example, give you tips and ideas on how to make your own master grocery list and show you how to use that list for your regular family food shop.
I’ve also put together a checklist of basic food items that should be on everyone’s master grocery list. Plus a guide to why it is so useful to have a basic grocery list for your essential family food shopping. Plus you can download my FREE printable basic grocery shopping list template (no email address needed).
BASIC GROCERY LIST OF ESSENTIAL FAMILY FOOD
Do you struggle to get healthy meals on the table fast for the whole family whilst staying on budget and keeping your sanity?! What you need is a basic grocery list of essential food items. A master list that will save you time, brain bandwidth, keep your food spending within budget and save you money each time you shop.
Here’s a complete guide grocery lists, including how to make a master grocery list, how to make regular weekly or monthly grocery lists, a
- What is a basic grocery master list?
- My example basic grocery master list
- How to make a master grocery list of basic essentials
- Grocery list ideas checklist
- Why you should have a master grocery list
SO WHAT IS A BASIC GROCERY MASTER LIST?
Your basic grocery list, sometimes called a ‘master grocery list’, is a list of all the essential food and grocery items you need to run your family kitchen and provide healthy food and snacks for your family.
Think of it like creating your own grocery index. It’s a reference list of ingredients and staple food items you can have to hand when you are creating your weekly grocery list. You simply take a look at your basic list every time you need to write your weekly shopping list.
You won’t need to buy every item of food and groceries on the list each week, but it will help you to plan your weekly shop, especially if you use it alongside a weekly meal planner.
Your basic list will help ensure that the essentials are always in your pantry, food cupboards, fridge and freezer. The list will change and evolve over the years, but your need for it will remain constant.
I’ve added a link at the end of this post to download my FREE printable basic grocery shopping list template, you don’t even need to give an email address to access it. It’s my free gift to help you get more organised with your grocery shopping.
MY BASIC GROCERY LIST OF FOOD ESSENTIALS
I think that a great way to understand how to put a list together is to see an example of one, so I’m showing you my basic grocery list that I use as a master list for creating my weekly family food shopping list.
Clearly, the list of grocery essentials that you put together won’t be exactly the same as mine, but my list should help you understand just how a master list works. We are omnivores who eat a mix of meat, vegetarian and vegan food, so our shopping list reflects this.
This is my basic list of essential food items that I keep as a master list for reference in my kitchen. I use it conjunction with my meal planner. Click on the sections below to go straight to a grocery category list or start at the top of the list and work your way through it category by category.
- 1. DAIRY
- 2. PRODUCE
- 3. MEAT/PROTEIN
- 4. PASTA, RICE, NOODLES, BREAD
- 5. FREEZER
- 6. PRESERVES, SAUCES AND OILS
- 7. CEREALS, CRACKERS AND COOKIES
- 8. NUTS SEEDS AND DRIED FRUIT
- 9. CANS
- 10. BAKING
- 11. SNACKS
- 12. HERBS AND SPICES
- 13. DRINKS
MY BASIC GROCERY LIST BROKEN DOWN BY CATEGORY
- Milk – whole (for kids), semi-skimmed and long life (for emergencies)
- Butter – salted and unsalted
- Eggs – always free-range and organic where possible
- Cheese – hard cheese, soft cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, cream cheese, cottage cheese
- Onions – spring, white, regular and red
- Rocket/ Arugula
- Green beans
We buy organic and free-range meat wherever and whenever possible.
- Chicken – whole chicken, chicken breasts, chicken thighs (great value), chicken drumsticks
- Beef – best value cuts, organic beef mince, burgers, meatballs
- Whitefish – haddock, cod
- Pink fish – tuna, salmon
- Seafood – prawns/shrimp
- Pork – bacon, pork chops
4. PASTA, RICE, NOODLES, BREAD
- Bread – Spelt sourdough, wholemeal
- Bread buns – hotdog buns, brioche burger buns
- Pasta – spaghetti, tagliatelle, penne, lasagna, small pasta, soup pasta, gnocchi
- Rice – white basmati, wholemeal basmati, risotto, pudding
- Noodles – thick and fine
- Grains – bulgar wheat, quinoa, couscous
- Fish fingers
- Veggie Sausages
- Smoked salmon
- Smoothie fruit mix
- Sofrito mix
- Vegetables – peas, broad beans, mixed grilled vegetables, soya beans (edamame), root vegetables
- Oven chips
- Yorkshire puddings
6. PRESERVES, SAUCES AND OILS
- Jelly / Jam
- Peanut butter
- Syrup – golden, maple
- Vinegar – white wine, red wine, cider, malt, balsamic
- Cooking wine
- Oil – olive, sunflower
- Soy sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Tomato puree
- Lemon juice
- Tikka paste
7. CEREALS, CRACKERS AND COOKIES
- Porridge oats
- Grown-up cereals
- Children’s cereals
- Cheese biscuits
- Cookies/sweet biscuits
8. NUTS, SEEDS AND DRIED FRUIT
These are all great high energy healthy snacks and great additions to all sorts of quick meals:
- Seeds – flaxseed, chia seed, pumpkins, sesame
- Nuts – walnut pieces, almonds ground & flaked, pine kernels, brazil nuts, cashews
- Dried fruit – raisins, mixed fruit, dried apricots, dried prunes
- Dried mushrooms
- Edamame beans
9. CANS AND DRIED PRODUCE
- Tomatoes – chopped, whole
- Baked beans
- Beans and pulses – lentils, kidney, garbanzo (chickpea), black eye, black,
- Fish – anchovies, sardines, tuna
- Fruit – pineapple, peaches
- Flour – plain, wholemeal, self-raising, white bread, brown bread, spelt
- Corn starch / cornflour
- Sugar – caster, granulated, icing, brown, demerara
- Chocolate – cooking, cocoa powder, chocolate chips
- Baking agents – baking powder, baking soda/bicarb, cream of tartar
- Vanilla essence
- Vegetable suet
- Custard powder
- Condensed milk
- Food colourings
We don’t have lots of bought snacks and I’m afraid crisps are for parties and picnics only but we do keep a supply of no sugar, organic snacks in that help my fruit-phobic daughter to get her five a day …
- Crisps – ready salted, salt and vinegar
- Popcorn – sweet, salted
- Chewing gum
- Chocolate – Bars, buttons
12. HERBS AND SPICES
- Stock cubes – vegetable, meat, fish
- Spices – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, garam masala, fennel seed, cumin, chilli powder, curry powder, paprika,
- Herbs – oregano, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, parsley
- Gravy granules
- Juice – orange, apple, grapefruit, tomato
- Coffee – incl. decaf
- Tea – black, green, mint, herbal
- Cordial / squash
Now that you’ve taken a look at my grocery master list it’s time to start thinking about how you make your own.
There are some simple steps you can take to make your first basic grocery list. The most important thing is that you DO start it!
HOW DO YOU MAKE A BASIC GROCERY LIST?
I’ve put together a list of all the steps you need to take to make the perfect master grocery list of all the basic essentials you need for your family food shop. Plus tips and ideas on how to organize that list and use it to create your regular family shopping lists. Before you dive into the list, take a look at my checklist of basics that everyone should have on their list.
THE BASICS EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE ON THEIR FAMILY GROCERY MASTER LIST
Here’s a checklist of basic grocery items that should be on everyone’s master family grocery list. These are the kitchen pantry, fridge and freezer staples that form the basis of so many family meals.
GROCERY LIST IDEAS: THE ABSOLUTE BASIC ESSENTIALS
- Red meat
- White fish
- Oily fish
- Charcuterie (cured meats)
- Tofu (if you’re vegan, vegetarian or enjoy a mixed diet)
- Cooking oil
- Stock cubes
- Mixed herbs
- Chilli powder
- Mixed vegetables
- Fish fingers
- Breakfast cereal
7. CANNED AND DRIED PRODUCE
- Chopped tomatoes
- Fruit, nuts, and seeds
- Flour – self-raising and plain
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
Now you’ve taken a look at the list of basic essentials, let’s look at how to make your own master list, where to make it and how to organize it.
1. DECIDE HOW AND WHERE TO MAKE YOUR LIST
Your main options are to create a digital spreadsheet, for example, Google or excel. You could use an app such as Cozi or you could go analogue and create a list in a journal or just on paper.
Go with the method that is easiest for you and will allow you to quickly check your list. You should also think about who else needs access to the list, either to add to it or to shop from it.
I have a basic list on a Google sheet, but as I am super organised when it comes to meal planning and food shopping, I also have my list on a super useful FREE family organizer app called Cozi.
Cozi has a list feature that you can use both online and on your cell phone. There is a premium plan you can pay for, but I find that the free version has everything that I need to keep my family organised.
The great thing about the grocery list is that it is in real-time, plus Cozi stores recipes and meal plans. It really is worth giving it a go.
2. ORGANIZE YOUR LIST
Organize your list into categories or sections. You could keep the categories super simple like:
- FOOD CUPBOARD
Or you could divide the list into food and drink categories:
- CANNED AND DRIED PRODUCE
Do what feels right for you. The important thing is that the list you create is easy for you to use otherwise you simply won’t use it.
3. TAKE AN INVENTORY OF BASIC ITEMS
This is your starting point. Take stock of what you have in your fridge, freezer and food cupboards and note everything down within its category or section on your list.
Once you have your master grocery list of all the basic essentials you need, you can start using it to create your weekly shopping lists. Here’s how…
HOW TO CREATE YOUR WEEKLY SHOPPING LIST
The best way to create your weekly shopping list is to use the basic essentials list in conjunction with your meal plan and a weekly stock-take of the food in your kitchen.
1. WEEKLY FOOD STOCK-TAKE
Use your list as a guide to check your fridge, freezer, pantry and food cupboards to check what food and ingredients you’ve run out of, what is close to its use-by date and what is close to needing replenishing.
2. START YOUR WEEKLY SHOPPING LIST
Add everything you need to buy to your weekly shopping list.
3. MAKE A MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK
Use your kitchen stock-take to help you plan your meals for the week, work out how to use up food close to its use-by date and to make the most of the food you have.
4. ADD ALL THE INGREDIENTS TO THE WEEKLY LIST
Once you’ve put together your meal plan for the week ahead you will be able to list the food items that you need to make all the meals for the week. Add all the ingredients you need onto your weekly grocery shopping list.
I really hope you find this basic essentials shopping list post useful and can make use of the list to create your own list.
I’ve also got a post on 8 easy ways to hack meal planning that will help you plan your family grocery shop and mealtimes.
The meal planning post is a great way to get yourself into the meal planning mindset, especially if you’ve been thinking about meal planning for a while, but never seem to have the time or brain bandwidth to get started.
WHY YOU SHOULD USE A BASIC GROCERY SHOPPING LIST
There are several reasons why you should create and use a basic grocery shopping list as the basis for your family food planning and shopping. I’ve listed a few of them here.
A grocery list is essentially a shopping planner and we all know that a little careful planning can save money. Alongside ensuring that you won’t run out of food essentials, a list will also help you stay on track with the food you buy, rather than buying unnecessary items.
It is also very easy to do price comparisons with a marked-up list of the everyday essential groceries you need to buy.
I’m not a big coupon user, but it would be really easy to tie coupons into your list, by adding the list to the shopping list feature on coupon sites.
A little planning and effort up front will save you a lot of time when it comes to ordering your food shopping or going to the supermarket to buy it.
3. HELPS YOUR MEAL PLANNING
You can use a basic grocery shopping list alongside a meal planner. The list is part of the armoury you need to create healthy meals and make sure you are making use of all the food you buy each shop, particularly fresh food. I have a post on how to get started meal planning for your family.
A meal plan is the best way to make sure you only buy what you need, keep on budget and eat healthily.
4. KEEPS YOUR FAMILY HEALTHIER
A basic grocery shopping list enables you to make better decisions about the food you buy for you and your family to eat. There is nothing like seeing a list of food written out in front of you to spot where there are issues. A lack of fruit and vegetables or too much sugar and junk.
5. KEEPS STRESS AT BAY
There is nothing worse than trying to throw together a family meal at the end of a long day when you are unprepared and don’t know what’s in the fridge. Having a basic list to build your weekly shop from will keep you on track with a fully stocked fridge, freezer and food cupboards.
6. IT’S ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
We all need to do our bit to cut down on waste and stop consuming unnecessarily. If you stick to a meal plan and grocery shopping list you will be able to streamline your kitchen so that you only buy what you need and don’t waste anything.
FREE PRINTABLE BASIC GROCERY SHOPPING LIST TEMPLATE
PRINTABLE GROCERY LIST BY CATEGORY
I’ve created a FREE printable basic grocery shopping list template that you can download. It’s a grocery list divided up into categories because it’s so much easier to keep track of your overall list if it’s in categories.
Use the printable to make your master grocery list or simply print a copy out each week for your weekly shopping list.
You don’t even need to give an email address. It’s totally a little something free from me to you to help you get more organized at grocery shopping.
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