I've done lots of different methods for meal planning/grocery shopping over the past 7.5 years of my marriage, but none of them have "stuck" with me through all the varied changes, new grocery stores, etc. Except one: the unplanned route. I'm a firm believer in menu-planning and list-making for that weekly grocery trip; however, with my trusty Fannie Farmer and How to Cook Everything cookbooks, I don't need to be nearly as specific as I used to be! A few simple ideas work. Ideas as simple as the following: chicken, green veg, starch. Nice, eh? What about looking up the ingredients for a particular chicken dish? Not going to do it. I have plenty of spices and with my beloved H2CE book, I can always find SOMETHING to make for dinner. With FF in hand, I can always make breads/desserts/homey-casserole if we need something along those lines. It's also a great resource for breakfast-y type meals.
I'm trying to simplify grocery shopping, too (who isn't?!). So, I'm going to just stock my freezer with basics (meat, packaged in quantities appropriate for one meal; frozen veggies (always broccoli, corn, peas, and spinach; mixtures are nice, too); rice/grains; bread; homemade chicken stock). We should be able to concoct anything we need from that. I keep canned tomatoes, peanut butter, dry beans, oils, vinegars, etc. on hand. With those things, combined with any fresh produce/dairy I pick up that week, I should be able to whip stuff up that's fresh, healthy, and inexpensive.
I've been shopping this way for some time now, and my grocery trips are quicker, more targeted, and I'm saving money. I make a list for random things (like, my husband needs plastic forks to restock his stash at work) and just go for sale items from there. I may do a theme week every now and then just so we can get a good Indian-food fix or make good use of an occasional run to the Asian store. I had thought thieme weeks might simplify things further, but I'm going back to my unplanned way.