Pizza Night – Homemade Pizza Ideas and Cost

When I was a kid, Fridays were always pizza night.  We’ve taken it a step further in our family and made it our weekly “pizza and movie night”, complete with fresh, amazing homemade pizza. In this article, I’m going to compare the costs between buying a pizza, getting a pizza kit, and making your own – answering for once and for all the question “Is Homemade Pizza Cheaper?” And if so by how much? I’m also including a printable recipe so you can make pizza from scratch too! Read on for all the details.

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My oldest son is occasionally the pizza chef in the house

Pizza And Me – My Childhood Memories

Pizza night didn’t involve ordering a pizza from a local restaurant – no, that would have cost too much. Instead we got “pizza kits” from a local pizza place. What’s a pizza kit, you might ask? Well it’s a package put together by some pizza places in town with dough, sauce, and cheese. For the low investment of a pizza pan (about $10) you get your pizza for half the price of ordering out. Not every restaurant offers it, but luckily there was one in town that did.

In our family rather than using pizza kits, we make pizza from scratch every Friday. This includes making our own dough from a recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook I received as a gift when I first moved out at the age of 20. For many years we would occasionally make pizza, but about five years ago it turned into a Friday night tradition. Since then, that page of the cookbook has been used so much it’s almost see-through.

I was wondering, though, does making the pizza actually save money compared to the pizza kits-or buying it outright from a local pizza place? After all they likely get their ingredients in bulk, saving money. So let’s look at the recipe and break down the cost:

Cost Of Ordering A Pizza Versus a Pizza Kit

  • Large cheese pizza from restaurant: $14
  • Pizza kit: $7 (note: this is an estimate. The restaurant where I would usually get a pizza kit sadly burned down last year, so I can’t get a recent price. However, they were always half the cost of ordering a pizza)

You can see right off the bat that I’ve saved $7 per pizza. If we get a pizza every week, that’s about $28 per month, or $364 per year in savings. So a pizza pan like this one at Amazon would pay for itself in less than two weeks. It takes about five minutes to assemble and pop in the oven, so at $7 savings it’s like you’re “making” $84 per hour by taking this simple step. Obviously this varies a lot by area, and your savings may be more or less than in my town. Also, your savings changes depending upon how often you eat pizza (once a week, once a month, once every few months-the savings will be different)

Making Homemade Pizza

Making your own pizza takes a lot more time and effort, for less savings. Why do we do it then? Honestly I prefer the taste and control over the ingredients. Plus, it’s fun – you can make mini pizzas, giant pizzas, put whatever toppings you want in whatever quantities you want. You can experiment with flavor combinations that you might not find in your local pizza place (such as mashed potato with bacon and caramelized onions, topped with cheese!).  We even do make-your-own-pizza as a birthday party activity for the older kids every year, and their friends love it. In fact, their friends ask about it before the party!

So how to make homemade pizza? Well, first, we get all the ingredients at BJ’s. All the ingredients for homemade pizza can also be used for other things, so keeping them around the house is useful beyond pizza making. For example, the oil can be used for cooking, the sauce for pasta, the cheese on meatballs, and the yeast for bread baking. Given that we’re a family of five and we make a lot of food ourselves, we use the ingredients before they go bad. Most of the ingredients are non-perishable, meaning that you can keep them around for a while and they won’t go bad. As for the cheese, it can be frozen so it stays good as long as you need it to.

Here’s the pizza basics – check out the end of this recipe for a printable version! It’s so easy, kids can make it, and they love to help with the toppings.

Dough

  • Flour – 2 ¾ to 3 ¼ cups
  • Salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Yeast – 1 package, or 2 ¼ teaspoons
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Water – 1 cup warm water

Sauce

  • One jar of your favorite sauce

Cheese

  • Mozzarella cheese – About 2 cups (more or less as you want!)
  • You can also add other kinds of cheese, like parmesan or asiago

Salt, pepper, oregano, basil to taste

Read to the end of this post for fun topping and shaping suggestions!

Instructions:

Mix 1 ¼ cup of the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and oil. Beat with a mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high speed for three minutes. Mix in as much of the remaining flour as you can (how much you’ll need depends on the moisture of the air – you need less in drier weather). Knead the dough by hand or with a mixers dough hook for 6-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Decide what kind of pizza you want to make (one big one? Several small ones?) and divide the dough accordingly. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then shape the dough. If you want a thicker crust, let it rise a bit (30-45 minutes) after shaping.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees for a thin pizza, or 375 for a thicker pizza. Bake the crust for 12 minutes (thin) or 20-25 minutes (thick) until its brown. Spread the sauce and cheese (and salt/pepper/herbs) on the pizza and bake again for another 10-20 minutes. The cheese should be brown and bubbly. Let cool slightly, cut into slices, and eat!

Printable Homemade Pizza – Printable!

homemade-pizza

Is Homemade Pizza Cheaper?

We already took a look at the cost breakdown of delivery pizza versus a pizza kit. Now lets break down the cost of homemade pizza to see if homemade pizza is really cheaper-and by how much.

Ingredient Item purchased Total Cost Number of servings Cost for pizza
Flour 10-pound bag of Gold Medal flour $4 151 ¼ cup servings $0.21
Salt Diamond Crystal iodized table salt – 4 pounds $2 1,210 ¼ teaspoon servings $0.01
Yeast Fleischman’s instant dried yeast – 1 pound $6 576 ¼ teaspoon servings $0.09
Oil Price Chopper canola oil (note – usually I get this at BJ’s, but that week I didn’t have to go so got this at Price Chopper) – 1 gallon $6  256 tablespoon servings $0.05
Water N/A – tap water $0 N/A $0
Sauce This week I got a three pack of sauce at BJ’s for $6.99, plus a $2 off coupon, making the cost $4.99 for three large jars of Classico sauce. $4.99 3 $1.67
Mozzarella Cheese BJ’s brand cheese, 3 pounds total (two bags at 1 ½ pounds each) $8 48 ¼ cup servings $1.33
Total N/A $31 N/A $3.36

So making your own pizza costs $3.36, or slightly more if you add herbs or other cheeses. $3.36 for a meal that feeds five people means the cost is about $0.67 per person. Now THAT’s a bargain. Especially as my kids turn into teenage boys, being able to whip up two pizzas for about $6.50 is going to help the food budget. So it’s true that homemade pizza is cheaper.

What about the cost of my time?

BUT – you’ll notice the “hourly wage”, or rate of return on my time, is much lower when going from a pizza kit to making my own. So is it worth it financially to make my own pizza as opposed to picking up takeout? Let’s analyze this:

Pizza Type Time (not including baking time for any option) Total Cost Savings from prior option “Hourly Wage”
Takeout 20 minutes (calling, driving to/from pizza place, waiting in line) $14 N/A N/A
Pizza Kit 25 (still need to drive to/from pizza place, but you need an additional 5 minutes to put in the oven) $7 $7 $84 per hour (spend 5 minutes of time to save $7)
Make your own 35 (no driving to/from the pizza place, but you need to assemble the ingredients, make the dough, let it rest. If you let it rise it takes much longer) $3.36 $3.64 $21.84 (Spend 10 additional minutes of time to save $3.36)

Choosing a pizza kit over takeout saves $7 for 5 minutes of work, a return on your time of $84 per hour. But choosing to make your own pizza over picking up a pizza kit only returns $22 an hour. Sometimes the small choices are what gives us the biggest bang for the buck in terms of saving money.

Topping Ideas

Here’s a few fun topping ideas for adults and kids – costs will vary.

Loaded baked potato pizza – leave off the sauce, and instead add mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, bacon, and chives under the cheese. Salt & pepper to taste. Bake the crust as instructed above and then bake the pizza until its golden brown

Pepperoni pizza – Buy some pepperoni and put it on with the sauce and cheese (easy peasy)

Meat lover’s pizza – Get pepperoni, meatballs, sausage, and bacon. Cook the sausage and bacon, then add the meat. Cook pizza a few extra minutes until everything is nice and bubbly. I like to use meatballs when I have some leftovers from earlier in the week)

Vegetarian pizza – Buy peppers, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and any other of your favorite veggies. Cook the vegetables while the crust is rising and baking, until they’re soft and lightly browned. Add on top of the sauce

Buffalo Chicken Pizza – Omit the sauce. Pre-cook the chicken. Add Franks Red Hot sauce to the cooked chicken, and toss until coated. Put the chicken on the crust and top with the cheese. Bake as above (you may need a few extra minutes)

Chicken Parmesan Pizza – Pre-cook the chicken, as well as some red peppers and onions until soft and lightly browned. Cover the sauce with the chicken and vegetables, and top with cheese (you may need a few extra minutes)

White Pizza – Omit the sauce, and get some extra cheeses – including ricotta. Spread the cooked crust with ricotta and top with the cheeses

Piggy Pizza – Omit the sauce. Get some ham, bacon (optional but always delicious), onions, and broccoli. Pre-cook the bacon, onions, and broccoli. Once the crust is cooked add the toppings then the cheese.

Mexican pizza – Omit the sauce, and instead pick up a few tomatoes, a red onion, jalapeños (if you like it spicy-if not, green peppers). Finely chop the veggies until the consistency resembles salsa. Replace the mozzarella cheese with Mexican cheese or queso. Once the crust is cooked, top with the chopped veggies and the cheese. Bake until golden brown.

What favorite pizza toppings did I miss? Let me know your ideas!

Fun Shapes!

Since you’re making your own pizzas, you can make them into fun shapes. For example, you can make a Halloween pizza shaped like a pumpkin with veggies for the eyes/nose/mouth. For Valentine’s day, shape the pizza into a heart. Try and red and green pizza for Christmas, using red and green peppers (or red peppers and basil).

This is also an awesome way to use up leftovers. Leftover meatloaf or meatballs? Pop it on! Have some chicken in the fridge? Make chicken parmesan or buffalo chicken pizza. Did you make ham? Make a piggy pizza and shape it into a pig! Some leftover veggies? Might taste great in a pizza!

But There’s More!

I hope you now see both the cost of homemade pizza, and that homemade pizza really is cheaper. Looking for some other cost breakdown information? Check out my article on how the cost of homemade cookies compares with storebought, and the cost breakdown of a fancy homemade cake.

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chiefmomofficer

IT professional, MBA, working mother of three, avid reader, geek and personal finance nerd

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