I recently met with a friend who asked me how I lay out my shopping lists and plans. I started thinking more about that after I left. I didn't verbalize it very well to her, so I'm going to try to get it right this time...
I subscribe to the Sunday paper. I only get one copy and don't buy extras. I know some people do this, but I haven't gotten that hard-core yet. I try to carve a few minutes out every Sunday to sit down with my circulars. I usually just pull out the stores I know I am interested in - Walgreens, CVS, Target, Meijer, and Office Depot (my prefered store for my business). I also pull out any coupon circulars and set them aside.
I flip through to see what the stores are offering. While I can usually find several good deals on my own, I've gotten used to waiting to see what others find before making any real plans. Several people on my Favorites List often post their finds right away (or have links to them). I keep finding new sites and will continue to update this list. Once I visit a few sites, I sit down with my circulars and a notebook. I go store by store on each page and write down the item, price, what coupons I use, etc (much like you see in my blog). I only write down things I know I will use or things that are EXTREMELY good deals. As I'm doing this, I pull coupons that go with that store/list and put them in a ziplock bag with that stores name on it. When the list is done, I add that in the bag too and drop it in my purse.
Since I have 2 kids, I don't have time to run from store to store. In general, I either go when my oldest is in daycare or at night after they are in bed. If there really aren't a lot of deals that have corresponding coupons with them, I will some times do the price matching at Wal-mart. Usually, though, there are enough deals at Meijer with coupons that make it worth me going. I will often hit either CVS or Walgreen's too, depending on if there are deals that make it worth a trip. One nice thing is that they are across the street from each other, so I can some times hit both.
I don't always find every thing on my list. Some times I get to the store and they don't have what I want, or I change my mind. What works for me, though, is writing it down. I'm even insane enough to some times reorganize my list by the order of the store (especially Meijer) to make it easier. After all, as I mentioned before, I'm a list person.
I'm still working on figuring how I'm going to organize and store my coupons, but for now this is working for me. Of course, doing all this in front of my favorite t.v. show always makes it easier and a lot less "nerdy".