How many times have you had to make a second trip to the grocery store for something you forgot to pick up on the way home from work? Perhaps you thought you still had the ingredients at home, or it slipped your mind while shopping or you were distracted after meeting someone at the store, and that item you needed slipped your mind.
We all do it and forget to pick up those special items. Sometimes we did not check the fridge to confirm we needed milk. Whatever the reason developing a master grocery list can help reduce those second trips to the store for items that we forgot the first time.
We all know what a grocery list is and why we should prepare a grocery shopping list before heading off to the store, but what is a master grocery list, and how will it help to ensure we have everything we need when preparing meals for ourselves and our families?
What Is a Master Grocery List?
A master grocery list includes everything you purchase at the grocery store and acts as a reference to use when preparing your shopping list for the latest visit to the grocery store. The list can be organized into segments to make it easier to find items on the list. You can make your personal categories however they may include:
- Baking ingredients c
- Household items
- And more
What is a Master Grocery List Template?
The master grocery list template contains a list of everything you normally purchase at the grocery store. Some folks use the template as a checklist to check before they head off to the store with the actual grocery list. They prepare their shopping list using the template as a guide and compare it to what they have in the pantry and their fridge.
Many people add checkboxes that they can check off for those items they need. They simply print a copy of the master grocery list template each time they go to the store, place checkmarks against the items they need after checking the pantry and the fridge against their master list, and add anything they might not have for a new recipe they wish to try out. The template can be used over and over again.
If you do not want to print the template each time, add it to your smartphone and update the list with those items you need. As you pick up various items on your list, the checkmark can be removed, indicating that you have found the item you need.
Master Grocery List Templates & Examples
Why Use a Master Grocery List?
There are several advantages to using a master grocery list. Although it might take some time to initially set up the list and use it to prepare your grocery list for the days shopping, compared to a second trip, the preparation time invested is minuscule. The list of advantages to using a master grocery list include:
- Eliminate second trips to the grocery store
- Checking for expired items before going to the grocery store
- Keeps you organized and your pantry stocked with popular items
- Avoids running out at inappropriate moments, like just before a party
- Saves time and energy
- Helps the environment by reducing car trips
- Reduces stress and family conflicts by eliminating a rush trip to the grocery store
How to Make a Master Grocery List?
Making a master grocery list is quite straightforward. Although it might take a little time in the beginning to prepare the master grocery list, it is time well spent. The following are the basic steps to prepare one:
- Draft a random list
- Add items you missed
- Organize your list
- Type up a printable grocery list or
- Fill in a master grocery list template
Draft a random list – write down all of the items that you can think of. Typically, these are the items your family consumes most often, e.g., dairy, meat, vegetables, cleaning products, and toiletries. You can ask other family members to participate and help fill in the list. They can include their favorite item on the list as well.
Add items you missed – next, you will want to inventory your pantry, the fridge, and the bathrooms. Look for items in these areas that are not on your list. They could be products you forgot about or items that are not purchased often. Don’t forget products in the laundry area, such as soaps. Note how often you need various items. Categories such as weekly, monthly, bi-monthly are good reminders to help in checking what is needed when preparing to go shopping.
Organize your list – to help you prepare your grocery list. There are several ways to approach prioritizing grocery list items. For example, products that are required often may be at the top of the list, e.g., milk, eggs, bread, while items that are needed less often are lower down on the list, e.g., toothpaste, shampoo. At the end of the list are long-term grocery list items that are purchased every few months, such as spices.
Alternately you might organize your list by area, e.g., kitchen, laundry, bathroom et.
Type up a printable grocery list – once you have your master grocery list products organized in a fashion that makes the most sense for your personal use, type up the list, adding a box to place checkmarks against those items you need to purchase when you are preparing your grocery list. Make copies and use this list when you go shopping for groceries.
Fill in a master grocery list template – another approach is to download a master grocery list template and fill it in using your computer or smartphone. A smartphone master grocery list means you can have your list with you at all times and use it as a reference when grocery shopping. If you use your computer to fill in the template, print a copy whenever you need to go shopping and check what groceries are needed.
Tips to Categorize Your Master Grocery List
The basic steps to preparing a master grocery list were covered in the previous section; however, there are few tips that many shoppers can consider while organizing and preparing their master grocery list.
- Basic grocery list
- Follow your grocery store
- Follow the seasons
- Consider your family demographic
- Food and non-food products
- Special meals
- Budget and cost
Basic grocery list – identify those items you need weekly or on a bi-weekly basis and keep them in a separate list with you or on your phone. Products such as dairy, vegetables, and meat are common items purchased regularly and qualify to be on a separate list.
Follow your grocery store – ever notice how your grocery store is set up? Dairy in one section, bread in another, condiments in another, and so on. Consider organizing your shopping list in the same way so that as you pass through an area, all of the items you need on your list can be selected without the need to backtrack.
Follow the seasons – many items are seasonal. Grouping your grocery list in this manner according to the seasons may be helpful and save you time.
Consider your family demographic – many parents tell their children to eat whatever is on the plate or go hungry; however, some products are specifically for adults, children, and the elderly. There are also products specifically for males and females. Depending on your family makeup, you may want to organize your list around the demographic of your family unit.
Food and non-food products – soaps and shampoos may be in one area while detergents are in another, and both are on display away from food areas. Organizing your list in this manner also helps to save time and get you in and out of the store quickly.
Special meals – do you have visitors, or are you planning a special meal? Do they have special needs, or are you trying to impress someone? Special grocery lists can be prepared to ensure you have everything you need for that special person or event.
Budget and cost – prepare a grocery list to provide a heads up regarding how much you will be spending at the grocery store and help avoid surprises. Sticking to the grocery list you prepared vs. randomly selecting products can also help the budget and control your costs.
Foods to Avoid While Grocery Shopping
Steering clear of some foods will help your budget, your health, and your weight. Using a grocery list and applying self-discipline to stick with it can help control your budget, improve your health and avoid gaining weight.
- Packaged Fruit
- Iceberg lettuce
- Yogurt covered nuts, fruit, and pretzels
- Salted Nuts
- Dried fruit
- Fat-free dressing
- Vegetable oils
- Yogurt with fruit on the bottom
- Liquid egg whites
- Vanilla soy milk
- Packaged Fruit – whole or sliced is more expensive than unpackaged fruit. Sliced fruit does not keep as long
- Iceberg lettuce – does not contain many nutrients compared to darker leafy greens
- Smoothies – are sweetened with sugar and cost more than if you make your own
- Yogurt-covered nuts, fruit, and pretzels – the yogurt is not real yogurt and usually contains more sugar and fats.
- Salted Nuts – watch your salt overload and calories
- Dried fruit – check for added sugar, purchase unsweetened
- Fat-free dressing – may contain sugars; check for the number of calories and sugar content
- Vegetable oils – are heavily refined and are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which trigger inflammation
- Yogurt with fruit on the bottom – lots of artificial ingredients, plus added sugars
- Liquid egg whites – lack nutrients from the yolk, including vitamin D
- Vanilla soy milk – look for unsweetened with added calcium and vitamins vs. the sweetened kind
The following are answers to frequently asked questions by many consumers when considering a master grocery list or a grocery list template.
What should be on everyone’s grocery list?
Create a grocery list considering the demographics of your family, their likes and dislikes, and the time you have for meal preparation. Your list should include staples from the following sections: Dairy, produce, meat, pasta, freezer items, sauces and oils, cereals, nuts, and dried fruit.
What food should you always have in your house?
The answer to the question is complicated by family demographics, time to prepare meals, and interest in healthy eating. Opt for natural foods rather than prepared meals high in salt and fat content. Plan your meals around the time available. Cook more than you need for a meal and save the leftovers for a future meal in the freezer or lunches the following day. Make sure you have staples available such as dairy products, whole-grain bread, cereals, nuts, dried fruit for snacks, pasta, and meat that needs to be cooked vs. processed meat and foods.
What is a typical shopping list?
Every family is different, and the needs of the individuals may vary; however, your weekly shopping list should include items from the following categories:
- Bread and bakery items
- Seafood and meat for protein
- Rice and pasta
- Salad dressings, oils, and condiments
- Breakfast foods including dairy, eggs, and cereals
- Low sodium soups and canned goods
- Frozen food for fast meals, be careful of the high sodium content
- Several different types of cheese
Creating a master grocery list can help save time, avoid return trips to the store, and ensure a full pantry. Although it may take a little organization at first, the time saved over the long run is well worth it.
A grocery list can also assist in managing your budget, especially if you stick to the list and avoid randomly adding items that you do not need and perhaps will never use.
Planning meals around your grocery list becomes easier since you have all of the ingredients at your fingertips with a well-stocked pantry.
Using a master grocery listed saved on your smartphone or carried with you as a hard copy helps to ensure that products needed weekly are not forgotten. Similarly, items that are only needed once a month or even over longer periods are not missed.
Select a grouping that makes sense for your situation. Group items you need on your shopping list based on your grocery store’s layout, your family demographic, special events, and other groupings that make sense for your particular needs.
Download a master grocery list template from online and fill it out. Changes and updates are easily arranged, and groupings can be reorganized as your needs change or as you become more comfortable with using grocery lists to manage your shopping experience.