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How these two lists Make grocery shopping so much easier (free pDFs)

I have worked out that there are two lists that make grocery shopping so much less of a pain:

  1. A master grocery list: A list you can refer to every time you plan to go grocery shopping
  2. A grocery shopping list: The list you create before you go shopping

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

Let’s now take a look at how to put together a basic grocery list. 

WHAT IS A MASTER GROCERY LIST?

A Master Grocery List, also known as a ‘Basic Grocery List,’ is a comprehensive list of essential food items and grocery staples that you need to keep your kitchen and pantry well-stocked. 

1. Its Purpose: To serve as a reference when creating your weekly shopping list. It ensures that you never run out of the essential ingredients and staple foods that your family needs.

2. How to Use It: Refer to your Master List before making your weekly grocery shopping trip/online order. Check which items you’re running low on or have run out of, and add those to your weekly shopping list. 

3. There are several benefits to taking the time to create a Master Grocery List:

   a. Time-Saving: It eliminates the need to create a new list from scratch every week, saving you time and effort.

   b. Meal Planning: Using it alongside a weekly meal planner ensures you have all the necessary ingredients for the meals you plan to prepare.

   c. Budget Control: It helps you keep track so that you can stay within your food budget and potentially save money by avoiding unnecessary purchases.

   d. Well-Stocked Pantry: You will always have the essentials on hand in your pantry, food cupboards, fridge, and freezer.

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Your Master Grocery List can evolve over time as your family’s dietary needs and preferences change. However, the need for the list as a reference tool will remain constant.

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My Master Grocery List

MY MASTER GROCERY LIST

A great way to get an idea of how to put together a useful basic grocery list is to see an example.

Scroll down to see the items on my basic grocery list. The list you put together won’t be exactly the same as mine, but my list should help you understand how it work.

We are omnivores who eat meat, vegetarian and vegan food, so our shopping list reflects this.

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

 I use this list in conjunction with a grocery shopping list and my meal planner.

MASTER GROCERY LIST IDEAS BY CATEGORY

Use this list to put together your own 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 looked at my master grocery list, it’s time to start thinking about how you make your own.

You can take some simple steps to make your first list. The most important thing is that you start it!

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Fruit and vegetables are essential for your grocery list.

HOW TO PUT TOGETHER YOUR MASTER GROCERY LIST IN THREE EASY STEPS

When putting together a master grocery list, the best place to start 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, with the cost of living rising every time we blink.

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

Here are the steps for making the perfect list. 

1. DECIDE HOW AND WHERE TO MAKE YOUR LIST

Here are some simple ways to create your list: 

  • Simply print out a copy of my free PDF printable version of the basic grocery list (keep scrolling to grab your copy)
  • Create a Word document or Google Document
  • Create a digital spreadsheet, for example, Google Sheet or excel
  • Use free a free list app such as Trello or Notion
  • Use the notes app on your smart phone

Go with the method that is easiest for you and will allow you to quickly check your list.

You should also consider who else needs access to the list, either to add to it or 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 to use. Otherwise, you won’t use it.

3.  TAKE AN INVENTORY OF BASIC ITEMS

Take stock of what you have in your fridge, freezer and food cupboards and note everything within its category or section on your list.

Now that you’ve nailed the idea of creating your own master grocery list read on to find the best way to assemble your weekly grocery shopping list.

Keep scrolling to grab your free PDF download of my Master Grocery List.

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The super useful grocery shopping list template

HOW TO CREATE YOUR GROCERY SHOPPING LIST

The best way to create your grocery shopping list is to use the master grocery list in conjunction with a weekly (or however often you shop) stock-take in your kitchen.

Want to be super organisded and ensure you stay on budget?

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 master grocery list as a guide to check your fridge, freezer, pantry and food cupboards.

Check what food and ingredients you’ve run out of, what is close to its use-by date and what is close to needing replenishment. 

2. ADD ITEMS FROM THE STOCK-TAKE TO YOUR LIST

Add everything you need to buy to your weekly grocery 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 make the most of the food you have. 

Read, The beginner’s guide to easy meal planning, which is a great way to get 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 LIST

Once you’ve put together your meal plan for the week ahead, you can add all the ingredients you need to your weekly grocery list. 

Once this is done you’re all set to do your grocery shop, safe in the knowledge you will be buying everything you need and avoiding things you don’t.

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Always have a shopping list at the supermarket.

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

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

WHY YOU SHOULD USE A MASTER GROCERY LIST

Here are the top reasons why it’s useful to have a master grocery list.

1. MONEY-SAVING

A master grocery list is essentially a planner; we all know that careful planning can save money.

It’s a great way to stay within your budget and even save money.

It will help you stay on track with the food you buy rather than buying unnecessary items. 

It is also makes it easy to do price comparisons.

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.

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.

4. KEEPS YOUR FAMILY HEALTHIER

It 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.

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.

A master 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 using a master grocery list with a grocery shopping list and a meal plan, you can streamline your kitchen so that you only buy what you need and don’t waste anything. 

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9 Comments

  1. Gorgeous, I am , Really helped me . Thanks for sharing

  2. So organised. I’m impressed!

  3. Great list!!😊😊 , really helped me . Thanks for sharing .

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

  5. Sarah Massey says:

    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!

  6. Antionette Blake says:

    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!

  7. Annette W says:

    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!

  8. Amanda Taylor says:

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

  9. Debbie Tom says:

    Great list of essentials! Visiting from Whatever goes Wednesday 🙂

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