In 2008 it may have seemed like most of your monthly budget was spent on astronomical fuel costs. However, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average American spends approximately 10 percent of his or her yearly income on food. The average family of four can spend nearly $650 a month on food alone. That said, saving money on food is an invaluable skill to perfect. Cutting coupons, buying in bulk, and scouring your store for sales may be the easiest ways to save money, but they're not the only methods to spend less. Here, a few sneaky, money-saving food swaps you may not have thought of before. 

Swap credit for cash. Sure, using a credit card has its perks. You can defer your payment for the next month. You can accrue airline miles or rebates. But the truth is, when you use plastic, you pay more. Credit card debt is a big problem in the U.S. According to the American Bankers' Association, the average American family has an estimated $8,000 in credit card debt. In fact, if you use credit cards instead of cash, you will spend 12 to 18 percent more. This is money that could have been saved or put toward more important ends.

Swap brand name products for generic. Contrary to popular belief, generic brands are not of lesser quality than name brands. Sure, some generic products may be a bit higher in sodium and fat than other brands, but with a careful eye to nutritional facts, you can save yourself some serious cash. In some cases, generic can even be healthier than other brand choices. For example, generic breakfast cereals often contain fewer additives and preservatives than their well-marketed counterparts. Remember, all food manufacturers must follow health standards to provide products of high quality. So next time you're at the supermarket, look to the lower shelves for lower prices.

Swap soda for sparkling water with a splash of juice. Not only is this swap cost- effective at $0.10 per 8 oz. serving versus $0.50 for soda, but it's more health-effective as well. A serving of Coca-Cola has 27 grams of sugar while sparkling water and a splash of juice has approximately 1 gram. Aside from the price and diet perks, the combination of juice and sparkling water are not only refreshing and delicious, but the options are virtually endless.

Swap ground beef for ground turkey. Another health-conscious as well as economically-savvy switch is ground beef for ground turkey. Ground turkey, on average, costs $1.67 per pound while lean ground beef usually clocks in at over $2.00 a pound. What's more, ground turkey has less calories, less grams of fat, and more protein per serving than its beefy opposite. Despite these positives, it may seem odd swapping red meat for poultry; however, when applied to chilis, tacos, meatloaves, and meatballs, the change is almost undetectable.

Swap fresh produce for frozen. Few foods are tastier or healthier than a bowl of fresh fruit or some grilled, fresh veggies with your steak. But when shopping on a budget, sometimes having to opt for frozen produce is a must. A 20 oz. package of frozen spinach averages $1.66 while a 9 oz. bag of fresh spinach can cost as much as $2.00. Fresh strawberries cost approximately $2.25 per pound while the frozen variety averages $1.00 per pound. A common misconception about frozen produce is that it is somehow less good for you. Produce is typically frozen at the peak of ripeness when nutrients are abundant. So, while your frozen carrots may not have the crunch you'd like, they're still just as good for you-while costing you less.