A master grocery list is a terrific method to keep your kitchen stocked, will help you avoid impulse purchases, and will help you remember what you need to buy. Download a free printable shopping list now.

I don’t know about you, but one of my least favorite household tasks is grocery shopping. I’m always forgetting something that I need to make for dinner, or I think I have more of something than I actually have. Sometimes my list is so unorganized that I forget something that is already on it. which then means I need to make an extra trip to the grocery store. I have been in this position a few more times than I would like to admit.

But I have found a way to make sure that my kitchen is well stocked with everything I generally need so that I have meals ready for my family when I need them. To solve this problem, I have created a master grocery list to help me.

Today I will be sharing with you how to create your own master grocery list. There will be a free printable for you as well as my own master grocery list to give you an idea of how it might look all prepared for you.

What is a Master Grocery List?

A master grocery list is pretty much what it sounds like a list that contains all the ingredients you use on a daily basis in your kitchen to prepare your meals weekly or monthly.

The list can be as long or as short as you want it to be; you can have everything your household needs, from kitchen items to household items. Every household is different, so the list is centered around your own buying needs.

Grocery List
Grocery List

Why you need a master grocery list

  • Prevents food waste: I know that in my household, creating a list of what I already have in my fridge and pantry helps me use what I have in my kitchen before buying new and having items expire that I already have. It helps me to create a meal plan with items I already have, and sometimes I end up being creative with what I already have.
  • Organization: It helps you stay organized; you will know what you will have on hand and the amount, plus you can carry it with you. So if you see a sale or an item, or you just want to grab an item, you can see how many you have at home without overbuying.
  • Saves money It will help in the long run with your budget because if you strictly stick to the grocery list, you won’t buy anything you don’t need, and as a result, you will save money. (This is sometimes harder than it might seem.)
  • Fewer impulse purchases For me, there are so many times that I go to a grocery store and end up with many more items than I went for, and if you have kids, it’s even harder to focus sometimes on what you want to buy and what gets put into the cart. By sticking to your grocery list, I have seen my expenses go down by 20%. It’s quite the challenge, I know! but it will help you save on not buying those other unnecessary items. 
  • Makes shopping There is nothing worse than spending over an hour grocery shopping, then getting home to unpack everything and realizing you forgot one of the key ingredients for dinner. So, you then have to find a way to still make dinner without that item or go back out and get that item.
  • But with a master grocery list, you will not have this problem because you have a thorough grocery list that shouldn’t fail you. Once you have made your master list, you won’t have to do this week after week without trying a dish that you don’t usually have the ingredients for. So this means no multiple trips to the grocery store for an item you forgot.

How to create your own master shopping list

When you’re ready to set up your master shopping list, you want to set aside about an hour, depending on the size of your fridge and pantry. Once you have created the list, it’s very easy to update.

  • Step 1: Decide what type of master list you want to create, You can use a piece of paper and write it all out with a pen and paper, or if you prefer a more digital version, you can use an Excel sheet or an app.
  • Step 2: Check the inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry so that you don’t forget anything. Go into each place, go shelf by shelf, and write down everything you usually have or want to have on hand. Organize them by categories, so when you need to look for something on the list, it’s easier to find. When it comes to the freezer, you want to do the same thing: make a list of everything in it that you have on hand.
  • Step 3: Organize your list, After you have gone through your list of what you have, it’s time to separate it into categories. You can create your own categories. headings that work for your own, or you can use categories like these. Remember to add any other items you didn’t find while going through your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and know it’s a staple. Also, adapt the list to any dietary restrictions.
  • Fresh produce
  • Dairy
  • Meat and seafood
  • Sauces, oil, vinegar
  • Frozen
  • Fridge
  • Canned and dry goods
  • Baking supplies
  • Herbs and spices
  • Household products (paper products and cleaning products
  • Personal care items (shampoo and other personal items)
  • Miscellaneous items (anything that doesn’t fit into one of the other categories)
  • Step 4: Transfer all the grocery staples to a shopping list template. Now that you have everything, it’s time to put it into a master grocery list template, which I suggest laminating and putting somewhere on your fridge. I will have a free printable right below.

Things to include on your master grocery list

The best thing is to create a master list that is centred around your family’s specific preferences and any dietary restrictions (gluten-free or low-carb), but here are some ideas of what to include on your list:

  • Fruits: fresh, dried, and frozen (apples, bananas, berries, pineapple, and melons.)
  • Vegetables: Fresh, frozen, pre-cut ( broccoli, corn, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, carrots, lettuce, prepared salads.)
  • Milk and Dairy Products: milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, and condensed milk.
  • Protein: meat seafood, eggs, beans, pulses, lentils, and tofu
  • Grains: rice, pasta, noodles, oats, and quinoa
  • Bread: white bread, wheat bread, naan, bagels, and tortillas
  • Baking items: all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips, coconut, and cornstarch
  • Breakfast granola, and cereal
  • Beverages: coconut water, almond milk, hot cocoa mix, coffee, tea, and juice
  • Canned food: broth, soups, beans, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, canned mushrooms, and canned vegetables.
  • Oil & Vinegar: coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, avocado oil, red wine vinegar, and white vinegar
  • Condiments: ketchup, mayo, soy sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, relish, and horseradish sauce.
  • Herbs and spices: Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, steak seasoning, salt, pepper, cilantro, dill, rosemary and parsley. I also like to have spices on hand to make any spice blend I want.
  • Frozen: vegetables, burgers, fruits, meat, ice cream, and chicken strips

Don’t get me wrong. Creating this list is quite time-consuming, but once you have your master list put together and laminated, you can use it over and over again and use a dry-erasable marker for an easy way to add and remove items from your list. I find I have to go through my list 2–3 times a year. Because I try to eat seasonally, it will be different for every family.

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