In reading The Simple Dollar Synergizing the shopping list and the coupon box to save big money at the grocery store - I have come to realize that there probably aren't that many money site out there that don't mention the above.
My shopping experiences are a tad different, we have an Aldi & a Wal-Mart Super Center, so while it is sad to say, I have only been in one of our local grocery stores since October. We also go to a local meat market convenience store for in between shopping trips & if I only need a few things.
Needless to say, I don't use a lot of coupons, Aldi doesn't take them & if they did, there wouldn't be very many brand name items anyways. Frequently (9 times out of 10) I am buying something at the Wal-Mart that wouldn't have a coupon (store brand) & is usually priced cheaper than the brand name minus the coupon. Of course I do check the coupons, since my Mother In Law still sends them. I'll cut out something I think I'll use (shampoo, batteries, toothpaste, dishwasher soap), otherwise I'm sorting through a ton of coupons to find what I need.
I don't shop ads, since Aldi doesn't have any & Walmart doesn't run real loss leaders that often. If our local grocery stores send out the coupons for free stuff again, I'll go, use those coupons & try to match with manufactures coupons (for freebies, I'll play the game!)
I do a lot of buying in bulk (Sam's Club), free samples online, etc.
My best weapon in the war over my $1 is my price list. I update it everytime I go to the store (you'd be suprised how much the price of 12 egss fluctuates over a year). It is an excel file, all I have to do is enter the quanity needed of each item, when I'm done I sort by quantity & print out the list from 1 & up. It even totals it for me, so all I have to do is grab the list & my money (I try to remember to add 20% to my total, for that just in case scenario.)
I also try to shop with a plan in mind, a menu plan that is. I know my kids could eat grilled cheese or eggs & toast daily, but I like a little variety. So I try to have some meals in mind when I make my list. Then I don't have to run back the evening I am cooking for something I don't have. It does make it hard, when you buy chips to serve with sandwiches on Wed, but since you shopped Monday they were gone by Tuesday evening....grrr.
I guess the key to my successful shopping trips is to know what I am getting. I have a core list of things I always keep on hand & I get the best price I can on those, giving me a little wiggle room when dh grabs the wrong bologna & costs us $3 extra or we need to go to the meat market for that extra bag of chips!!!