Hold the Steak, Bring on the Chicken

Shoppers trade down to save money.

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Are you replacing steak with chicken? Fresh veggies with frozen ones? Citigroup Global Markets reports that consumers are buying their food at less expensive stores such as Wal-Mart, making cheaper dinners, and avoiding pricey brands.

The firm attributes the shifts not only to an uncertain economic environment but also to steep food inflation. The price of food for home consumption has risen 5.1 percent over a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And food isn't the only reason for squeezed budgets: More than 70 percent of consumers surveyed said higher gas prices had changed the way they shop.

The bottom line: Making a home-cooked meal on the cheap is getting harder. You can check out these tips on how to buy and cook in bulk to save while still keeping your stomach happy.