When I was a kid, Fridays were always pizza night. We’ve taken it a step further in our family and made it “pizza and movie night”-at least we did before my middle son started drama club that meets Friday evenings. So now it’s pizza night, and movie night has moved to the weekends. In this article, I’m going to share with you a cost comparison between buying a pizza, getting a pizza kit, and making your own – and I’m including a printable version of the recipe so you can teach your kids how to make pizza too!
Now the pizza night when I was little 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 you get your pizza for half the price of ordering out. It was never on the menu, but if you asked for a pizza kit they would give it to you. We would always go to a specific restaurant in town to get the pizza kits, so I’m not sure if other places had them as well.
In our family we take it one step further. Rather than ordering pizza kits, we make pizza from scratch every Friday. This includes making our own dough. We got the dough recipe from my old 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:
First, the comparison between ordering a pizza and getting a pizza kit.
- Large cheese pizza from restaurant: $14
- Pizza kit: $7 (note: 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 already in this example 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 pizza is a great example of the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the results can be accomplished by 20% of the effort – and accomplishing that last 20% takes 80% of your effort. Getting a pizza kit and making it yourself, in your oven, takes only a few more minutes than just getting take-out pizza. You save about half the cost for those few minutes, making it a good deal. But making your own pizza – that takes a lot more time and effort, for much less savings. Why do we do it then? Well, 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!
Making Homemade Pizza
So how do we 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.
All right, 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.
- 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
- One jar of your favorite sauce
- 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 suggestions!
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 – Teach Your Kids to Make it!
Cost details – feast your eyes on the cost breakdown of a homemade pizza to feed five!!
|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|
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.
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)|
So you’ll see that choosing a pizza kit over takeout saves $7 for 5 minutes of work, so it’s 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.
P.S. 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!
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!