Use this basic grocery list to get your kitchen fully stocked. Perfect for families, moving into a new home or even college students, this list will help get you cooking healthy meals and keep you on a budget with grocery shopping.

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The Ultimate Basic Grocery List

There are so many things that go into setting yourself up for success in the kitchen. Having a go-to basic grocery list is just one of them, but I often find that when I have a fully stocked kitchen I can be more creative with my recipes, and it’s easier to whip something up on busy nights.

Since we’ve moved so many times, I’ve learned how to stock our kitchen from nothing, and knowing what to buy has now become second nature. When I run out of these items, I always buy more, even if I’m not planning on using them immediately. This way, my kitchen is always stocked.

These are ingredients that I use regardless of being our new dietary restrictions, but I also have a great go-to shopping for dairy free basics and a guide for dairy free substitutes, as well.

And, don’t forget to make sure you have you bases covered with these basic kitchen essentials that every home should have.

Dry Goods

These are all non-perishable items, that can be stocked up on in bulk. I typically by these items at Costco, or in large quantities when they’re on sale, so I don’t usually run out.

This is by far the largest section on my list, and the ingredients can be used in so many ways: chickpea salad, chipotle salsa, tuna cakes, and so much more.

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Coconut milk
  • Tuna
  • Diced green chilies
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Reduced-sodium beef broth
  • Reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • Peanut butter
  • Low-sugar strawberry preserves
  • Plain breadcrumbs
  • Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • Brown rice
  • Arborio rice (for risotto)
  • Penne or rigatoni
  • Spaghetti
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Taco seasoning
  • Brown gravy mix
  • Sriracha sauce
Baking Basics

These are items I commonly use when baking. I always have them on hand, and it makes throwing together some chocolate chocolate chip cookies or my extra fluffy dairy free pancakes so simple.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cocoa powder
  • Rolled oats
  • Cornmeal
  • Shortening
  • Vanilla extract
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Fridge Must-Haves

Most of these items are non-perishables until they’re opened, but I’m listing them here because they take up some serious fridge space. I use ingredients like these to make Dijon vinaigrette, shrimp cocktail sauce, and my favorite aioli recipe.

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Dijon mustard
  • Butter (or vegan butter if you’re dairy free)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Minced garlic
  • Minced ginger
Spices & Seasonings

Spices and seasonings can get pretty pricey, but all of these are basic, inexpensive ingredients that can really bring a recipe to life. Some I buy in bulk at Costco, others I pick up at the dollar store or on sale at the grocery store.

Spices are great for so many things, but I find myself using these basic ingredients the most, like in my marinara sauce, Cincinnati chili, and my homemade ranch dressing.

  • Granulated garlic*
  • Dried basil*
  • Dried parsley
  • Cinnamon
  • Whole bay leaves
  • Chili powder*
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Salt (coarse/kosher and table salt)
  • Black pepper

I’ve read that spices should be used within 6 months, but I don’t follow that rule. I do, however, toss them when they are no longer fragrant – that’s usually a sign that they won’t add much flavor to your recipe.

*These are the ones I usually buy in bulk.

If you’re looking for even more help with meal planning and grocery shopping, my friend Melanie has a great meal planning notebook to help keep your organized and on track with your daily meals.

Last Updated on January 21, 2020 by Melissa Belanger

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  1. I love this list! Totally applies to us right now. We are slowly setting up our kitchen here. Usually I try to plan for the week and buy accordingly, but I am missing something often, because I am so used to having pantry staples that Is never worry about.

    1. Moving makes it so hard! Especially when you’re abroad. Some basic staples aren’t so easy to find! I hope you get that kitchen fully stocked soon! How long will you guys be in the same location?

  2. What a useful post! When it comes to groceries, I’m an impulse shopper and I often run out of basics such as dried herbs and diced tomatoes, because I’m drawn to the fresh herbs shelves and delicacy counter instead:)

    1. Oh I am too! Fresh herbs are just so much more flavorful, but I try to always stock the dried stuff to just so we have them when we need it.