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GROCERY LIST IDEAS. PLUS FREE PRINTABLES: BASIC GROCERY LIST AND GROCERY SHOPPING LIST TEMPLATE

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There are a couple of grocery lists that I believe are absolutely essential if you want to keep a well stocked kitchen and pantry. 

The first is a basic grocery list that you can refer to every time you need to make a weekly shopping list. 

The second is a weekly grocery shopping list that you put together ahead of doing your weekly shop. 

The two grocery lists combined will help ensure you always have everything you need to make healthy nutritious meals. 

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My basic grocery list
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NEED GROCERY LIST IDEAS?

Never created a basic grocery list before? I am sharing a copy of my own basic grocery list to help you create your first list. I’ve made the list into a free PDF printable that you can download.

I’ve also created a free PDF grocery shopping list template that you can download and print out to use for your weekly grocery shopping list

Scroll to the bottom of the post to grab both the free printables.

Before I get onto the ins and outs of compiling your weekly grocery shopping list here is a little more information on basic grocery lists.

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Grocery lists keep you organised!

WHAT IS A BASIC GROCERY LIST?

A basic grocery list, sometimes called a ‘master grocery list’. It is a list of all the essential food and grocery items you need to stock your family kitchen and pantry in order to be able to provide healthy food and snacks for your family. 

Think of it as 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. 

A basic grocery list is a reliable way to save time and effort making sure your kitchen and pantry are well stocked. 

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 grocery 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. 

Using a basic grocery list to keep track of what you have and what you need to buy is also a great way to keep your food budget under control and can potentially save you money each time you shop

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Bread is a staple for your grocery list

MY BASIC GROCERY SHOPPING LIST

A great way to get an idea of how to put a list together is to see an example of one, so here is my basic grocery list that I use for creating my weekly family food shopping list.

The list of groceries 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 and give you an idea of what to put on your own list. 

We are omnivores who eat a mix of meat, vegetarian and vegan food, so our shopping list reflects this. I use this list in conjunction with my meal planner.

The items on this list are the kitchen pantry, fridge and freezer staples that form the basis of so many family meals.

BASIC GROCERY LIST IDEAS BY CATEGORY

Use this list to put together your own basic grocery list. Use the list to refer to every time you need to do make a grocery shopping list.

1. DAIRY

  • 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
  • Yoghurt
  • Ice-cream

2. PRODUCE

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Berries
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions – spring, white, regular and red
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Brocolli
  • Spinach
  • Rocket/ Arugula
  • Coriander/Cilantro
  • Green beans

3. MEAT/PROTEIN

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
  • Tofu

4. PASTA, RICE, NOODLES, BREAD

  • Bread – Spelt sourdough, wholemeal
  • Bagels
  • 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
  • Tacos

5. FREEZER

  • Fish fingers
  • Sausages
  • Veggie Sausages
  • Smoked salmon
  • Prawns
  • 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
  • Honey
  • Peanut butter
  • Syrup – golden, maple
  • Mustard
  • Marmite 
  • Ketchup
  • Vinegar – white wine, red wine, cider, malt, balsamic
  • Cooking wine
  • Oil – olive, sunflower
  • Soy sauce
  • Salsa
  • Sriracha
  • BBQ sauce
  • Chipotle
  • Tomato puree
  • Capers
  • Olives
  • Lemon juice
  • Tikka paste

7. CEREALS, CRACKERS AND COOKIES

  • Porridge oats
  • Grown-up cereals
  • Children’s cereals
  • Oatcakes
  • Cheese biscuits
  • Crackers
  • 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,
  • Soups
  • Fish – anchovies, sardines, tuna
  • Fruit – pineapple, peaches

10. BAKING

  • 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
  • Treacle

11. SNACKS

  • 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
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Gravy granules

13. DRINKS

  • Juice – orange, apple, grapefruit, tomato
  • Coffee – incl. decaf
  • Tea – black, green, mint, herbal
  • Cordial / squash
  • Sodas
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Spirits
  • Mixers

Now that you’ve taken a look at my basic grocery 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!

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Fruit and vegetables are essential for your grocery list

HOW TO PUT TOGETHER YOUR FIRST BASIC GROCERY LIST

The best place to start when putting together a basic grocery list is to work out what you actually NEED. 

Now that may sound ridiculously obvious, but it’s easy to get carried away when grocery shopping. 

This is especially important the way life is for many families at the moment, with the cost of living rising every time we blink.

So have a think about how many days your grocery shop needs to last for, who needs to be fed and what your grocery shopping budget it.

Once you’ve done this, you are ready to start working on your grocery list.

I’ve put together a list of all the steps you need to take to make the perfect basic grocery list. 

1. DECIDE HOW AND WHERE TO MAKE YOUR BASIC GROCERY LIST

Here are some simple ways that you can create a basic grocery list that you can refer back to each time you need to put together your weekly shopping list. 

  • Simply print out a copy of my free PDF printable version of the basic grocery list (keep scrolling to grab your copy)
  • Print out a copy of my free grocery shopping list template
  • Create a Word document or Google Document
  • Create a digital spreadsheet, for example, Google or excel
  • Use free a free list app such as Trello 
  • Use the notes app on your Smart Phone 
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An example of a basic grocery list to use as reference

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. 

2. ORGANISE YOUR LIST

Organise your list into categories or sections. You could keep the categories super simple like:

  • PANTRY
  • FOOD CUPBOARD
  • FRIDGE
  • FREEZER

Or you could divide the list into food and drink categories:

  • DAIRY
  • MEAT/PROTEIN
  • PRODUCE
  • CONDIMENTS/PRESERVES
  • FREEZER
  • BREAD/PASTA/GRAINS
  • CANNED AND DRIED PRODUCE
  • BAKING
  • SNACKS
  • DRINKS

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.

Don’t forget to scroll to the end of this post to download your free printable basic grocery list. 

Right, now you’ve nailed the idea of how to create your own basic grocery list, read on to find out the best way of putting together your weekly grocery shopping list. 

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The super useful grocery shopping list template

HOW TO CREATE YOUR WEEKLY GROCERY SHOPPING LIST

The best way to create your weekly grocery shopping list is to use the basic grocery list in conjunction with a weekly stock-take of the food in your kitchen.

If you want to be super organised and also ensure you keep within budget for your family grocery shop you can add a meal planner into the mix, so that you end up with an easy to use grocery shopping list and a plan for all your meals for the week ahead

Here are the steps I suggest you take to create your weekly grocery shopping list: 

1. WEEKLY FOOD STOCK-TAKE

Use your basic grocery 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 A GROCERY SHOPPING LIST FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

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. 

I’ve got a post on 8 easy meal planning tips which 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.

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 grocery shopping list for the week. 

I think that is just about all the information and ideas you need to get started creating your first basic grocery list and then using it to create your weekly grocery shopping list. 

If you still aren’t convinced that having a reliable basic grocery list is the best way to keep your kitchen and pantry stocked, take a look at this list of reasons why it’s a great idea to have a basic grocery list. 

WHY YOU SHOULD USE A BASIC GROCERY LIST

There are several reasons why you should create and use a basic grocery list as the basis for your family food planning and shopping. I’ve listed a few of them here. 

1. MONEY-SAVING

You absolutely need to put together an essential grocery list on a budget if you are trying to save money.

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.

If you follow my tips above on how to create a weekly grocery shopping list you will find that it is much easier to stick to a budget. In fact, from experience it can be quite addictive finding ways to save money on shopping for groceries each week!

2. TIME-SAVING

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 use Trello for our family meal planning. Read my post on how to get started using Trello to plan your family meals.

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. 

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PRINTABLE BASIC GROCERY LIST AND GROCERY SHOPPING LIST TEMPLATE

I’ve created a free PDF printable basic grocery list. Download it to understand how to create your own grocery list or use it to help teach your kids, students or schoolchildren learn about what needs to go onto a basic grocery list.

I’ve also created a free PDF printable grocery shopping list template that you can download.

You can print out a copy of the grocery shopping list template each week to write your weekly grocery shopping list on. 

You could also use the grocery shopping list template to create your version of a basic grocery list to use as reference. 

Related content: Free Christmas food shopping list and meal planner printables

HOW TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PDF PRINTABLES

If you are already a subscriber to Mums Make Lists you can go right ahead and click the image or link below to download your copy of the free printable grocery shopping list template.

Yet to subscribe? Then you will need to unlock this exclusive content by subscribing. It literally takes seconds, you just need to enter your email address.

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Click to download: Basic grocery list
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Click to download: Grocery shopping list template

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The best way to plan your weekly grocery shopping list
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MY BASIC GROCERY LIST BROKEN DOWN BY CATEGORY 1. DAIRY
  • 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
  • Yoghurt
  • Ice-cream
2. PRODUCE
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Berries
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions – spring, white, regular and red
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Brocolli
  • Spinach
  • Rocket/ Arugula
  • Coriander/Cilantro
  • Green beans
3. MEAT/PROTEIN

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
  • Tofu
4. PASTA, RICE, NOODLES, BREAD
  • Bread – Spelt sourdough, wholemeal
  • Bagels
  • 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
  • Tacos
5. FREEZER
  • Fish fingers
  • Sausages
  • Veggie Sausages
  • Smoked salmon
  • Prawns
  • 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
  • Honey
  • Peanut butter
  • Syrup – golden, maple
  • Mustard
  • Marmite 
  • Ketchup
  • Vinegar – white wine, red wine, cider, malt, balsamic
  • Cooking wine
  • Oil – olive, sunflower
  • Soy sauce
  • Salsa
  • Sriracha
  • BBQ sauce
  • Chipotle
  • Tomato puree
  • Capers
  • Olives
  • Lemon juice
  • Tikka paste
7. CEREALS, CRACKERS AND COOKIES
  • Porridge oats
  • Grown-up cereals
  • Children’s cereals
  • Oatcakes
  • Cheese biscuits
  • Crackers
  • 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,
  • Soups
  • Fish – anchovies, sardines, tuna
  • Fruit – pineapple, peaches
10. BAKING
  • 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
  • Treacle
11. SNACKS

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
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Gravy granules
13. DRINKS
  • Juice – orange, apple, grapefruit, tomato
  • Coffee – incl. decaf
  • Tea – black, green, mint, herbal
  • Cordial / squash
  • Sodas
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Spirits
  • Mixers

Kim

Sunday 4th of October 2015

Great list! I have a list as well, it really helps.

Sarah Massey

Tuesday 28th of January 2014

That's a really nice list of essentials to have handy! Thanks for sharing and for linking up at the Weekend Wind-Down Party with us!!! God Bless!

Antionette Blake

Sunday 26th of January 2014

I have definitely stopped overstocking, and just today while cleaning out my cabinets and pantry I threw out too many expired items because of that!

Annette W

Saturday 25th of January 2014

I keep a list of a few items to buy each week (milk, bananas, bread, yogurt) on my special grocery list printable. I keep it on my fridge until shopping time.

Thanks for joining our WWDParty. Please be sure to link to us in the future so we can feature and pin your posts!

Amanda Taylor

Wednesday 22nd of January 2014

I'm actually most impressed with all the other places you've now connected me to! Thanks!