Ultimate Grocery Shopping Checklist

Fruit and veggies in hanging basket
credit: Brenden Lowry

Just think, in one massive grocery run, you can cook most anything your heart desires. That's the goal of this checklist.

Note: Snacks are a personal choice, as are drinks. And if you are gluten-free, paleo, allergic, or have kids, adjustments shall be made.

Short of that, though? You want Italian tonight? You got it. Stir-fry? Sure. Forgot to buy pancake mix? Just make it. Ran out of BBQ sauce? You've got all you need on hand.


  • Milk
  • Plain yogurt (Greek is great, but you can always just strain plain)
  • Butter (Salted in the fridge, unsalted in the freezer if you bake)
  • Hard cheese, like cheddar
  • Soft cheese, like goat cheese or feta
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Eggs

Fruits and vegetables on the counter

  • Onions (Yellow, brown, or white, plus red)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Shallots
  • Potatoes
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Heirloom tomatoes (In season)

Fruits and vegetables in the fridge

  • Berries (In season, of your choice)
  • Carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes (All year-round)
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Dark, leafy greens (Spinach, kale, chard)
  • Salad greens
  • Peppers (Red or green)
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions

The herb garden

These herbs do great on a patio or in a window and with a little care are nice year-round.

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Thyme

Other refrigerables

  • Tortillas (Corn or flour)
  • Salami or the deli meat of your choice
  • Bacon


  • Mustard (The more the merrier; Dijon, at the very least)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Sriracha, sambal oelek, or your favorite Asian hot sauce
  • Tapatio, Cholula, or your favorite Mexican hot sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Jam or jelly
  • Tahini — vital for DIY hummus
  • Miso paste — not just for soup


  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen fruit
  • Bread (Slice before freezing and toast before eating)
  • Ground meat (Pork and beef = meatballs, meatloaf, and more)
  • Chicken (Thighs or breasts, your choice)
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Frozen salmon
  • Frozen pizza dough or puff pastry
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Edamame — if you have kids, or if you like sushi, this is a no-brainer

Dry goods

  • Canned tomatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Anchovies
  • Capers
  • Kalamata olives
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Asian noodles (Soba, rice noodles)
  • Other grains (Quinoa, farro, couscous)
  • Breadcrumbs (Regular or panko)
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Chicken and vegetable broth
  • Canned tuna
  • Peanut butter and/or almond butter
  • Canned chiles
  • Pickles

Coffee station

Whether you keep your coffee in the pantry or on the counter, you never want to be without.

  • Coffee
  • Black tea
  • Green tea
  • Herbal tea

Cooking shelf

  • Olive oil
  • Any neutral oil (Avocado, grapeseed, canola)
  • Sesame oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup

Spice shelf

  • Salt (Sea salt, kosher)
  • Peppercorns
  • Bay leaves
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Crushed red pepper — or packets from the pizza parlor!
  • Curry powder
  • Dried chiles
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried dill
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cumin
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Paprika
  • Sesame seeds
  • Nutmeg
  • Garam masala — for an Indian curry, in a flash

Baking shelf

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Cocoa powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cream of tartar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Chocolate chips

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle, design, and women's health.