New figures show Americans are not only eating out less, they're shopping their own pantries and buying generic brands.
In the last quarter of 2008 food spending dropped 3.7 percent from the third quarter.
It's the sharpest decline in 62 years, according to the Commerce Departments Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Daniel Howard, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University says shoppers have changed their mindset.
"We know that people have not stopped eating and we know that they aren't eating less. We have seen people bargain hunting," he said.
They're abandoning national brands and shopping generics.
Kroger says its store brands are up 20 percent from this time last year.
The Commerce Department's data shows people are still buying eggs, milk, and fresh vegetables.
Alcohol saw the biggest decline, down almost 11 percent.
Pet food and snack food were down more than 5 percent, followed by cereal, beef, and poultry.
"It is general and across the board. In fact, it is across the board for most population segments, and in fact for most food items," said professor Howard.
Economists estimate food companies could suffer for another year, but historically, when the economy recovers and wallets get fatter, so do waist lines.