When I was in "Pirchei" boys' youth groups as a child, at snack time I was taught to make a "Mezonos" on my cake, "Shehakol" on my drink, and "Haetz" on my sliced fruit. Then, at the end, the group leader always said "Al Hamichyah" for everyone and we all said "Borei Nefashos" together.
Over the years I've learned more and more, of course, and I've studied the laws of Berachoth and tried to apply them to my eating habits. But mostly I've followed this pattern except when I've eaten bread, in which case I've assumed (again, as I was taught as a child) that the bread exempts everything. For a few years I even made separate Berachoth on salad that had prominent pieces of food items of different varieties (ramen noodles would get Mezonoth; olives or cranberries would get Ha'Etz; lettuce and tomatoes, etc., would get HaAdamah; and if there was cheese or chicken pieces, they'd get SheHakol). I've since abandoned this and say HaAdamah on the entire salad - and I don't like ramen noodles anyway, so that's moot; ah, but croutons...
Now, of course, I've left out certain special Berachoth and certain "exception" cases, but is the way I was taught as a young child more or less the correct way? I continue to be baffled by the Halachoth that seem to contradict this, and unless the Halachoth are actually as muddled as they seem to be and have exception upon exception upon exception, I can't help but think that I was taught incorrectly (perhaps as a way of ensuring we all made and learned our Berachoth, we said everything?), and in my efforts to do it right I've ignored what I've learned later and stuck to what I was taught as a young child as the rule, and assumed everything else was the exception.
Bottom line: Should I just choose one food as the 'Ikar and exempt all the others?