A grocery store usually has a layout strategized to make shoppers like you lose focus and spend beyond their means and needs. With discounted items and promotional deals of unnecessary grocery items placed strategically near the counter, it’s no wonder that unnecessary things fill grocery carts. With that said, consider the use of a grocery list. This type of list facilitates your grocery shopping by keeping a record of the purchases you need to make while sparing you from making any unwanted expenses.

You can create a grocery list from scratch on a piece of scrap paper. But if you want to create a carefully considered and formed grocery list, download and customize any of our grocery list templates and examples below!

51+ Sample Grocery List Templates

What Is a Grocery List?

A grocery list is a tool used by shoppers to make wise purchases. This type of list is a memory aid for people who find it difficult to remember the things they need to buy. This list is also a guide that helps grocery shoppers avoid the temptation of buying things on impulse. Apart from that, grocery lists are also one way of having a formal planning method. It does not only structure your daily meals, eating habits, and non-food expenditures, but it also allows you to preserve your financial resources.

For individuals who are on the path toward healthy living, grocery lists can help guide them toward their goals. Those strapped on cash can make wise purchases that won’t bust their budget. And those who live far from any grocery store can make the most out of every grocery shopping trip.


Grocery List Categories

Grocery items vary from one household to another. But to keep an organized list with a mix of healthy food items and non-food items, sorting things out by categories help you shop efficiently and save you from purchasing items on impulse. Below are some suggested basic categories that you may consider incorporating in your grocery list.

Bakery and Bread: To check if you are making healthy choices, see to it that its ingredients include whole wheat, whole wheat flour, or whole-grains and check if it has at least three to four grams of fiber.Meat and Seafood: Don’t buy more meat than you need. The fresher the cuts, the better. In buying red meat, select the leanest ones. Your options include chicken, turkey, pork, beef, salmon, tuna, and so on.Pasta and Rice: This category spells out one word and that is carbohydrates. Many assume that carbohydrates are evil because it risks people to obesity. However, there is such thing as complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains. This type of carbs is packed with more nutrients and is higher in fiber, making it the best option for those who would like to control their weight.Oils, Sauces, and Condiments: If you are on a diet, check the ingredients of every item you pick under this category. Many condiments are high in sodium and sugar and this might be good for you. For those with high-fat content, look for healthier alternatives.Cereals and Breakfast Foods: There are some cereals and other breakfast food items that are high in sugar. Be sure to choose the ones that are high in fiber but also have low sugar content. Opt for whole grains or multigrain if you are looking for healthy options.Canned Goods: Canned goods are notorious for their usually high sugar and salt content. Always check the label before you pick an item under this category and choose variants with lower sodium or sugar. In buying canned fruits, always go for the ones that are packed in juice and not those with syrup. In buying canned tuna, always go for those packed in water rather than oil.Frozen Foods: Frozen food items include yogurt, vegetables, fruits, and even seafood like shrimp. Frozen vegetables are ideal for throwing into dishes like casseroles and stews. Even if buying and eating fresh is ideal, sometimes it is best to opt for frozen food items. It is more convenient for those who have limited time to spare for meal preparations.Dairy Products: Next to carbohydrates, dairy products like butter and cheese are among the food items that health-conscious people avoid. However, these products contain important nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Choose variants with lesser sugar and calorie content and buy in smaller portions.Produce: The fresher produce, the better. It is best to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season because these do not only taste better, but these also cost less. If you want lesser meal preparation time, opt for pre-cut fruits and vegetables.Drinks: Avoid anything with artificial flavoring. If you buy juice, say lemon juice, be sure to pick the one that says 100 percent lemon fruit juice. Do not be fooled with labels like “lemon juice drink” or “lemonade” because these already contain sugar water which is unhealthy.Non-Food Items: These items may include paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, and the like; cleaning supplies such as laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, and dishwashing soap; healthy and beauty items such as shampoo, body soap, toothpaste, medicines, and other pharmacy items; and, miscellaneous items such as plastic wraps or bags, aluminum foil, and so on.


Importance and Benefits of a Grocery List

Grocery lists are more important and beneficial than you think. Think it’s otherwise? Then wait until you find yourself wandering in the grocery store, not knowing what and what not to buy. If you need more convincing, read on the importance and benefits of having a grocery list.

Saves Money: Based on a Statista survey, the average household food expenditure in the US amounted up to approximately $7,923―the highest it’s ever been between the 2000-2018 survey period. Just imagine how much you can save by simply having a grocery list. If you are you tied on a shoestring budget, a grocery list can help you stick to that and it can even help you save some of it. Instead of buying unnecessary items, a well-organized grocery list compels you to stick to your budget. With a grocery list, you can also estimate the total amount you only have to spend, saves you from overspending in the process.Saves Time: Are you constrained by the limited time you can spare for grocery shopping trips? Another benefit you can get from grocery shopping is that it also saves you time―imagine shortening that hour-long shopping down to fifteen minutes. By then, you no longer have to go around in circles wondering what items you need to refill and stack up.Determines Needs and Wants: A grocery list allows you to distinguish your needs from your wants, allowing you to weed out unnecessary grocery items from your shopping cart. While coming up with a list of the things you have to buy for your next grocery shopping trip, you will realize a lot of things. You need to stack up on condiments since you’re running low for weeks already. You also don’t have to buy another bottle of shampoo since you still have a half-used bottle at home. And yes, you seriously don’t need those bags of chips for snacks.Avoids Excess and Waste: Having excess leftovers and spoiled foods are a waste of money. If leftovers and food spoilage are your constant household dilemma, you can deal with that with the use of a grocery list. When you follow a grocery list, you can easily remember the maximum food intake of your family and whether or not bulk buying fits your lifestyle. Bulk buying might be one of the best ways to save up. However, if you don’t use it all up during its prime, you might as well skip it.Encourages Meal Planning: There will be times that coming up with a list of grocery items gets overwhelming. When this happens, it encourages you to think ahead and plan for your meals for the week ahead. And with all those plans, you will know what exactly you want to purchase during your grocery shopping trip. Meal planning helps you identify the things you should purchase. Aside from that, it also serves as an opportunity for you to diversify your food choices and create healthy eating habits.


How to Create a Grocery List

The end goals of the following steps are to make your grocery shopping efficient and make you a wise shopper. If you want to achieve the same goals, be sure to follow the steps below.

Step 1: Download a Grocery List Template

As mentioned, you can create a grocery list from scratch on a piece of scrap paper. This kind of grocery list only gets you through a single grocery trip and you can no longer use it the next time around. But if you are among the 32% of US primary household grocery shoppers who make two to three grocery store trips within a week based on a Statista February 2017 survey, then using a grocery list template is encouraged. When you download and make use of any of our list templates above, you can easily customize it according to your needs. You don’t need to worry about getting things out of control since each template contains a ready-made organized format.

Step 2: Create a Meal Plan

If you feel overwhelmed when thinking of what food items you need to purchase, creating a meal plan is highly encouraged. In creating a meal plan, planning meals for at least two weeks is ideal so you can limit your number of visits to the grocery store. Once you have a specific meal plan, determine and list down the ingredients. The list of ingredients are not your final list yet; you still need to check your current food stock and see if there are some items in the list that is you still have available at home.

Step 3: Check Your Current Inventory

Check your refrigerator, freezer, pantry, cabinets, and other places where you store food and non-food items to see your current inventory. Take note of these items that are running low, half-used, unused. By knowing these, you would know what you need to buy and what you can put off for your next grocery store trip. Check also the things that you can buy in bulk so you can save money that way, but see to it that it’s not perishable or that you can use it up before it goes bad. Among the things you can buy in bulk are batteries, kitchen and toilet tissues, light bulbs, and other necessities you usually run out of fast.

Step 4: List Items Based on Categories

To make your grocery trips quick and easy, organize your list according to different categories or sections. You can categorize your list according to food groups or how the arrangements of items in the grocery store. Listing things down under categories is one of the best ways you can save time and money. This step is easier for you to accomplish since you already made meal plans and checked your inventory. Add grocery items as you go when you have already decided on the categories that make your grocery shopping more organized.

Step 5: Review

Before you head out and start your grocery shopping, be sure that you have listed everything that you need to purchase at the grocery store. Avoid any possibility of making multiple trips for the next two weeks as it is a waste of money and time. If you are familiar with the prices of each item on your list, you may write this down. Including prices can help if you are on a tight budget and if you need a reminder of your limited grocery allowance.

Dos and Don’ts of a Grocery List

Take notes from the following dos and don’ts to be guided when you create and make the most out of a grocery list.


1. Do make meal plans before writing your grocery list.

Planning your meals ahead of time enables you to determine the essential and necessary ingredients that you only need to buy. Whether you are on a tight budget or a strict diet, having a list makes grocery shopping more comfortable and more convenient on your end. Meal planning saves you time and money, encourages you to eat healthy meals, and helps you avoid making any food waste.

2. Do have an inventory of your current supply.

See to it that the only items you need to write down on your list are things that you need to refill or lack. Do not purchase anything that is still available at home. Do not even buy items that are half-used and can last another week or two. Check your food and non-food storage places such as the fridge, freezer, cabinets, cupboard, pantry, and the like and know what you still have.

3. Do make use of your grocery list. 

What’s the point of making a grocery list if you are not going to use it anyway? Update its contents before going on a grocery trip because what you might need for the next two weeks might be different from what you currently need. If you create grocery lists but still find it unnecessary, then maybe you should start using it to experience its functionality.


1. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

A grocery list should serve as the game plan that helps you fight against the temptation of throwing a bunch of useless things into the shopping cart. So, don’t overwhelm yourself and try to perfect your list. Perfection is known as an excuse in disguise and an excuse to procrastinate. That said, you might not end up creating your grocery list in the end. Start with the basics if you are feeling too overwhelmed. Torn between buying and not buying in bulk? Then do not buy in bulk or you’ll only make more problems than solutions.

2. Don’t forget to check your receipts after every trip.

If you are running on a fixed grocery budget, it will be wise to keep track of the prices of the usual items that you usually buy. To do that, you need to keep the receipts of every grocery store trip. In doing so, you can make sure that your estimated total cost is exact or close enough to the actual total amount. Another benefit you can get from keeping your receipt is that you can check whether you were wrongly charged on a particular grocery item.

3. Don’t buy things you can forgo.

Do you need to buy a bunch of kitchen paper towels when you can buy a reusable kitchen towel? Do you have to get that optional ingredient that is only good for a single meal? Do you need to stack up on vegetables that you won’t even need for any of your meal plans? If no is your answer, then go ahead and skip it all. You are not only keeping your grocery budget in check but you also cut down on clutter and save space in your food and non-food storage places.

With the use of a grocery list, you will no longer forget the essential items you need to get during your grocery store trip. And you will no longer have any problems with sticking to your budget anymore. Even if you are now an adult with a lot of responsibilities in your hands, having a grocery list might make you enjoy grocery shopping the same way you used to enjoy it when you were younger.