For the next several weeks, Tightening the Belt will offer ways to spend smarter on food, and it's worth doing. The average American family of four spends $9,172 on food each year, according to the federal government's Consumer Expenditure Survey. Cutting that total by just 20 percent saves you more than $1,800.
Cooking at home is one major way to save, because dining out accounts for 42 percent of a four-person family's annual food spending, according to the expenditure survey.
You don't have to cook every night. When you cook, make double and triple batches, and freeze the rest. It's minimal extra hassle and about the same amount of cleanup, said Annette Economides, co-author of Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half.