One of my reasons for planning out my menus is to get the best bang out of our buck. Even though food costs are really at a high right now, I still think that the food budget is a place where money can be saved.
When I sit down to make my menu and list, I have the store ads, my coupons, a calculator, a pencil, a stapler and the calendar. The reason I have the calendar is to see what nights we might be out with sports or church and school activities and I can plan dinner accordingly. No 3 course gourmet meals on PTS night! Or ever!
Then while I'm looking through the ads and coupons I can match the coupons to sale prices. For example, Safeway had Healthy Request Select Harvest soup on sale for $1.29 last week in their Mix and Match sale. I matched that with a $1.00/3 coupon and paid 96 cents each. By spending a little bit of time, usually less than an hour, (even with interruptions!) I can have my menu planned, list made by store, and coupons sorted by store.
The reason I say by store is because that's the way I shop, and the way my brain works. We are lucky to live near a city that has all of these stores within a couple of miles of each other so I don't burn a lot of gas going from store to store and I can usually get all of my grocery shopping done in one day. This wasn't always the case. When we lived in Missouri I did most of my grocery shopping at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter because it was the most convenient and usually the cheapest. I'd supplement with Aldi and the local market for certain things, and bought all of my bread at the Sara Lee breadstore for $1.00 a loaf, cheaper than what I could make it for. List making was super easy with fewer stores.
In my web-surfing moments I have come across TONS of cute, organized, grocery lists, printed them out, then never used them. They might be functional for the person who made them, but with the way my mind processes things they don't work for me and end up being scratch paper, or I use the back for my list.
I have to keep things simple or I get overwhelmed and the system doesn't do any good, anyway. So I've kept it SUPER simple for my one-page list. I just listed the stores with space below. I can list what I'm buying, add a price if I want, and I circle the item if I have a coupon in hand for it. Then I group the coupons for that store together and staple it to the back in of the page in the same order the stores are in. I know it is almost too basic, but it works for me!
Grocery List by Store