When I first started couponing I was so excited about all the money I was saving- that I thought I needed to cash in on EVERY deal at EVERY store! I was shopping at Albertson's, Walgreen's, Walmart, Target and occasionally K-Mart. And this was on a weekly basis. Obviously, it didn't take long before I was completely burnt out. Not to mention my kids would spot the Big Red Bullseye and burst into tears. (Okay, I may be exaggerating- but you get the point)
I quickly had to choose just one store that I would focus my efforts on. My choice was Albertson's- because it's the only store with in about 25 minutes of my house. (If I were closer I would probably focus on 2 stores.) I still occasionally go to Target and Walmart- but it is not a weekly occurrence anymore.
Also, it's best for you coupon virgins to learn 1 store at a time. You will get WAY too overwhelmed if you are trying to learn every policy all at once. I think the easiest way to choose a store is to just pick what is closest to your house. You will be wanting to go often, so it makes sense to not have to travel very far.
Another key to finding balance in couponing- is to remind yourself that this most likely isn't the last time you will see products at this price! When I was a newby- I didn't realize that the prices I was seeing were more than Once In a Lifetime Sales!! The industry standard for coupon and sale cycles is 3-4 months- but on a lot of products, like Kraft and General Mills, it's more often than that!