Basic grocery list – Learn how to create a master grocery list, track your pantry items and never forget to buy a staple again!
How often does this happen to you?
You have guests coming over and you are planning an extravagant meal. You have planned well – Made a long list of grocery items you need, and completed your grocery shopping a day in advance.
The big day has arrived and you are relaxed, start cooking and make all these lip-smacking dishes. Finally, it is time to garnish and you realize you have don’t have any cilantro leaves (dhania). Ugh!
It has happened more often to me than I would like to admit much to my husband’s chagrin (he is the one who has to do the last minute run to the grocery store).
That’s how the master grocery list was born so that busy moms like us would never ever forget to buy a staple again.
How to create a basic grocery list?
For the sake of this post, let me explain what a grocery list is – it is a master list of all items you need for your cooking. You will update this list so that it reflects the status of your kitchen pantry items. In short, it will help you create your weekly shopping list
There are two tools you can use to create a grocery list – an excel sheet or using a grocery list app such as Out of Milk (it is a free app). I will explain in detail how we go about using both options.
While I will show you how to create a basic list using both options, I wanted to share that Out of Milk is my preferred option for the following reasons –
- The grocery list is with you always…on your phone. No more fretting over grocery lists that get lost in your purse or get accidentally dropped in one of the grocery aisles.
- Use it track what you are running low on. I update it when I am planning my meals and also when I notice I am running low on certain items as I am cooking. There is an option to write notes for each item.
- Easily create shopping lists by store AND categorize them by aisle. For example, buy X item at Costco and Y at Whole Foods. In addition, you can check off what you have already shopped for.
- Share the list with your husband and since it is already categorized by aisle, he will not call you to ask where to find coconut milk 🙂
How cool is that!
And you can do all that using a free app! It also has a to-do list for other items you want to track as well, for example – pick up the clothes at the dry cleaners. I haven’t used it yet, but it is there if you want it.
Now that you have decided which tool to use, let’s go ahead and get started with creating the list.
Steps to create a basic grocery list
A. Using an Excel sheet
- Create a column called categories – Ideally create categories as per the aisles of your store like the example below –
- Add items to each category – include the description of the item, the quantity you want, the amount it comes in, along with units (pound/bottle/case etc). You can also add a column for notes.
Download a copy of the basic grocery list I created. You can save it to your desktop and modify it as you please.
B. Using the Out of Milk website –
- Sign up at outofmilk.com and then click on Pantry -> Manage Categories, Add category: Enter the category description and click on Create Category. You can look at the categories from this excel sheet -> basic grocery list to get some ideas
- Go back to the Pantry screen by clicking on it. Click on “new item” to add a new entry. Enter the product information and category. You can ignore the “How much field” for now. This field defaults to “Full” and I like to keep it that way so that I can change it “Low” as needed. You can click on “Show more” to add notes such as ‘buy in one pound bags only’ and they will show up on your shopping list. Click on “Add to Pantry” to add.
NOTE – I have tried the import function of the Out of Milk website and I found some issues. For example, I populated an excel sheet and imported a CSV file to make this step take less time. While the pantry items were pulled in, they were not categorized at all. You could always use my basic grocery list and import the items and manually sort them into the categories you want. You can add these items via your Out of milk app as well, but I prefer the website because it seems faster to me.
After you are done adding all your pantry items, your pantry list will look like this when you log in to your app ->
How to make use of this pantry/ grocery list?
You can use this pantry list in two ways –
- Track/update your pantry inventory and/or
- To create your weekly shopping list
How to track your pantry items?
I like using the app because it is a more practical approach to track your daily staples – our phones are always handy, right? Whenever I am done with cooking, I quickly update the app – add notes, indicate an item is running low etc.
If you are using excel, then add comments in the notes section to indicate if you are running low.
How to create your weekly grocery shopping list?
If you are using the Out of Milk app, click on the shopping list section in the menu and then go to My lists and create different lists for each store you visit. You can do that using the app or the website. Here’s what my list looks like
The next step would be track down the items that you are running low on by reviewing the pantry list. Add those items to the respective shopping list. For eg, add milk to the Costco shopping list and then add organic sugar to Whole Foods.
Ta-da! And just like that, you have created two shopping lists. The best part is that is each list is categorized by aisle.WOW!
Bonus – Share this list with your husband/roommate/ assistant! Your notes are visible in each shopping list for every item, so you won’t get multiple calls for clarifications 🙂
You’ll have to do all this manually if you are using Excel, that’s why I use the app. The screenshots don’t do this app enough justice – go check out the app, you’ll realize what a time saver it is!
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