Stocking the fridge is a domestic ritual for good reason. Unless you can afford to dine out for every meal, it's a good idea to have some food around the house. But with so many options for where to buy your groceries and what to get, you might be overlooking potential savings.

In the era of convenience, we sometimes forget that a little planning can translate into serious savings. Follow these easy pointers and you might be surprised at how much extra change you've got after your next visit to the grocery store.

Know Your Specials

There are always sales going on. You just have to find them. These days, you can even do your deal research online with retailers' circulars and coupons and then arrive at the store with a list in hand. That will save you time as well as money.

Look for sales on items in bulk and see if you can stock up on them enough to make it through to the next deal. If you can plan a menu entirely out of sale items, you've already made a serious impact on your bottom line.

Don't forget coupons, either. They can often be used in conjunction with sale prices to get better deals. And always have a shopper's card for the store you're using. If you don't, ask the cashier if they can use a store card for you.

Don't Get Sold on Fancy Items

Can you really tell the difference between store-brand and name-brand goods? Whenever possible, choosing the store brand will help you save the most. You can apply this logic in the deli, too, where fresh cold cuts demand a premium compared to pre-packaged items.

When shopping for meat, never pay full price. There are always items on sale, so get familiar with what's available and use it to create a menu.

It's always cheaper to prepare your own meals instead of buying things that come ready to eat. To maximize your savings, see if you can substitute items you already have for certain parts of a meal.

Buy Groceries Less

When you have a plan and visit the store with the idea of getting the most for your money, you save. It's the quick trips back where you make impulse buys that will make you broke. Stick to your plan, make a shopping list before every visit and don't deviate from it unless you really must.

Many items that you can purchase on sale can be stockpiled and used as components in popular recipes. A few examples of these include rice, beans, pasta and soups. Oatmeal, dried fruits and cereals are also good items to stock up on.

Know Where There's Value

Single-serving items and products high in water content are typically bad deals. Avoid juice mixes, pre-packaged items and single pieces of fruit. Instead, buy drinks in bulk and purchase bags of fruit, such as apples and oranges.

If you can consistently follow these practices, you'll feel it in your pocketbook. You might be thinking, "I don't have to subject myself to that." But the truth is, nothing about these plans forces you to eat foods that are unhealthy or unappealing. It's all about knowing your options, planning ahead and spending only what you need to.

Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington