RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With food prices taking a bigger and bigger chunk of people’s budgets, many are looking for ways to economize on their food shopping.

One way to save money at the grocery store is by being a discriminating shopper.

It’s now estimated the average American family spends about 10 percent of its total budget on food according to Bureau of Labor statistics.

That’s about $550 a month for the average family.

Before you even step into the grocery store, plan ahead. Make a list and stick to it.

By not deviating from the list you keep your food costs in line.

Greg Sikes watches his food expenses carefully.

“It’s going up,” the retiree said. “I probably spend $100 a week.”

People tend to spend more on extras that add little nutritional value like bakery items, soda, and chips.

Avoid those extras and make healthy choices instead, they’re cheaper.

Ina McCoy is frustrated at produce prices right now.

“Fruits and vegetables are ridiculous,” she said. “This is something we really need. It’s a staple and it’s expensive.”

To reduce produce costs, buy items that are in season.

Supermarkets price in-season produce to move because it can’t sit around or it will go bad.

Another reason to buy in-season is that many markets purchase local produce and those costs tend to be lower than produce shipped in from halfway around the world.

For example, if you buy watermelon imported from Guatemala right now, it’s going to cost more than if you wait till watermelon season here in North Carolina.

Don’t confine yourself to one store—hunt for food bargains everywhere.

“I try and go to different grocery stores and get deals and stuff,” said Laurie Price.

By using coupons and following the sales you can save significantly. Also, don’t overlook buy one, get one free items.

“I look for bargains and deals,” said Sikes.

You pay more for name brands so why not buy the store brand instead.

Many supermarkets buy national brand products then put their label on them.

By going generic or private label you save a lot over national brands which rely on expensive ad campaigns to keep their names known.

After you do your food shopping make sure you make the most of the food you purchased by packing your own lunches.

If you avoid eating out at lunchtime, you’d be surprised how the savings add up.