Not all of us odd-balls live on pizza, beer, and cocoa puffs.
The system I use now is the second half of the system I described, namely the spreadsheet part. It allows us to enter the information by hand into the shopping list, and then do the filtering according to stores and aisles.
My wife prepares a months worth of menus in advance. She goes shopping once every two or three weeks. By organizing her monthly menu, and her shopping list based on the menu, she saves a good deal of time on the day she chooses to go shopping. She can also check the adds in the paper to see what is on sale, (hence the utility of a catalogue of bar codes, to add sale items to the shopping list).
Presently we store the menus on the calander portion of the palm pilot desktop. (They are easy to move around from month to month.) Ideally the menus could be stored in a database and the ingredients and amounts need for each menu could be exported
In addition there are certain items we buy in bulk at club stores. (for example Sams or Costco, each of which is a 90 mile round trip for us. It's a real drag when we make the trip, and forget to buy a bulk cooking item because we just went in the kitchen looked around and noted we were a little low on "eggs")
The perishables like produce and milk are picked up when they run low with a quick stop at the store on the way home from the office
So it is true if you subsist basically on "cans of soup" this is over kill. It's no big trick to go buy a case or two of Dinty Moore's beef stew. However if you actually cook, and are otherwise engaged in a busy life, saving 5 to 10 hours, and 50 or 100 bux a month (bulk buying and sales) is worth developing this kind of system.
I have a nice little networked appliance in the kitchen which allows for easy implamentation of such a system. If the cuecat and database are added, there will be a little initial overhead to populating the database with data, but once populated, a 1/2 second scan adds an item with all it attendent attributes completely ordered to the list so you can simply walk down the aisle and place the items in your cart. How many wasted minutes do you spend in the store, wandering around in circles, in search of those elusive cocoa puffs?
gee at 100 bux a month saved, I can buy a free computer system a year, or 10 gateway connected touchpads, (I can place one in every bathroom.) Or maybe I can put a couple of bucks away for my kid's college fund. Beyond that I save my wife time and hassle, and in return she hasn't found it necessary to feed me cocoa puffs for dinner for a number of decades.
It looks like such a system would be fairly easy to implament using visual access.