How to Create a Master Grocery List

Why have a master grocery list? Well, working from a master list does a few things for you. First, it keeps you from having to write the same 20 items over and over. Second, it allows you to go through the house (or have a child do it) and inventory what you do and don’t have - checking it off, rather than trying to remember what’s missing. And third, and perhaps most important, it keeps you from buying “off list.” Once you see how much you really buy in a month - buying more is almost impossible to do!


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    Create categories for the things you buy, like "Pantry" and "Produce"- and then create subcategories, perhaps breakfast foods; canned goods; snack foods or baking supplies.
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    Write down every item, in it's appropriate category, that you purchase at the grocery store. Include sponges, shampoos, and doggie treats, even if you don't necessarily buy these items at the grocery store. Check every room in the house to make sure you have not forgotten to write down all the needed items.
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    Type these items in a Word document on your computer (use the tables feature) or in a spreadsheet. If you have a student in the house, make them practice their typing skills.
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    Leave space at the bottom of each category for write in items - this is particularly handy around the holidays.
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    Print out and use the list when looking at the weekly circular in your paper. Highlight or circle items you need and cross them out as you buy. If you keep the receipt after your trip, you should also be able to start a very up-to-date price book, which will help you start saving money on your shopping too.


  • If you use coupons, clip them to the list, so that you are more likely to use them.
  • A good example of a master grocery list is available at
  • Try to keep the list to one page by using columns. If it's more than two pages, it seems overwhelming...and is kind of a pain to carry around.

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Categories: Meal Planning