Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eat at home inspiration: Home-made pizza

I'm pretty sure that eating at home more often over the past year and a half has been the one change in our lifestyle that has affected our savings budget the most.  It's now become a habit, but we are still tempted all the time to just grab some takeout on the way home or appease the kids by stopping through a drive-through. 

We are halfway through this year, we are in a big push to meet our year-end savings goal.  And I've been trying to re-inspire myself with new dinner ideas and recipes. 

I'm going to start sharing some of my favorite easy and cheap dinner ideas on this blog.  None of these recipes I dreamed up myself.  If I can remember where I got them from, I'll post a link.  Most of the dinners I cook cost less than $10 to make, many are around $5.  I don't like to and can't spend all afternoon in the kitchen, so most of my dinners take less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Maybe seeing one of these dinner ideas will inspire you to skip the take-out and cook at home tonight.

First up:  home-made pizza.
Time to make:  ~20 minutes
Cost:  $3 base price for cheese pizza plus some extra for toppings

I'm a big pizza lover.  I could easily eat pizza once a week if not more.  When we were both working we used to order pizza delivery at least once a month.  Then when I quit my job, I looked into making pizza but I found that delivery or even frozen pizzas were just as cheap as making my own.  When I got pregnant a few years ago, sodium really started to bother me and I found that most delivery/frozen/takeout pizza was just too salty for me.

So I started to look into making pizza, not really for the price break, but for having more control over the ingredients and sodium content.  I've made pizza with several different kinds of crusts--Bobboli, Pillsbury refrigerated crust, and out of a package...and I think I've come up with the best combination for me in terms of price & taste.

The crust I now use is the Great Value brand pizza crust mix, sold at Wal-Mart.  It's 50 cents.  Just add hot water and a teaspoon of oil.  The pizza sauce at Wal-Mart if $1.00 a jar, and it's enough for 2 large pizzas.  So, 50 cents a pizza for sauce.

After mixing the water and oil with the pizza mix, the dough needs to "rest" for 5 minutes.  While it's doing this the oven can pre-heat to 450 degrees (the package says 475, but I've had better results on 450 degrees).  The crust then bakes by itself for 5 minutes.  It's a thin crust.

After pre-baking the crust for 5 minutes, it's time to top the pizza.  This is where my kids like to help.

As far as toppings, you can get as creative as you want.  I like to use the Hormel italian sausage crumbles (around $2/bag and it lasts for 3-4 pizzas).  We've also browned ground beef and mixed in grilled onion.  Or bell peppers.  Our pizzas usually have pepperoni (this can be bought at the dollar store in small packages or at any store in larger packages that last for a few pizzas).
I use a little more than half a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese for a large pizza.  I can find the shredded cheese on sale for $2.50 or usually less, so I figure $2.00 at most for the cheese.  So the base price for this home-made pizza is around $3.00.  With my toppings, I'm still usually at $5.00 or less.

Now it's ready for the oven:

And after 8 minutes at 450 degrees it's bubbly and done.
Add a salad and fresh fruit, and the meal is done!

One large does it for our family of 5...since one of our kids doesn't eat pizza and our kids are still pretty young.  I'm sure once our kids get older we'll have to  make more.

Sauce and cheese are always handy to have around the house--they can be used for quick lunch pizzas on english muffins or those round bread thins.

Do you make pizza at home?  How do you do it?  What are your favorite toppings?


  1. Pizza dough from Trader Joe's. Frozen spinach, thawed and pureed to make the sauce.
    Pineapple chunks for the topping.
    Trader Joe's or Costco mozzarella.

    We call this Jedi Pie. And my kids love it!

    I probably spend about $5-6 per pizza, largely because we keep kosher so we have to buy specially marked cheeses.

    1. Sounds good! I wish we had a Trader Joe's near us...one is supposed to be opening in the next town in a few months so I may have to make the trip over there!

  2. you can also use a biscuit-have the kids stretch it out large and they each get to top their own. It makes a really light crust.
    I also buy a pizza from Sam's/Costco-they are really big pizzas. One can feed 4 of us, and my kids are 10 and 12. I also buy a hot dog, because one of my girls is allergic to milk. The whole meal is $11.50-not bad for a take home meal.

  3. We also do bbq chicken pizza. BBQ sauce instead of pizza sauce, maybe a little cheddar and monterey jack cheese in place of a little of the mozzarella, leftover chicken from a previous meal, and chopped up bacon if I have that leftover too. If I feel we need some veggies, I might throw on some sauteed onions and peppers too. Preston doesn't eat pizza either, and Scarlett will only eat pepperoni and cheese (literally just the pepperoni and the cheese, she ignores the crust entirely).

    I like the idea of Jaime's Jedi Pie. I need to get more creative about my food naming.

  4. Jedi Pie was a last minute marketing ploy. I accidentally flipped half of the pizza over the other half (making it a calzone) and knew that one of my kids who does not like surprises would not be thrilled, even though it was the same stuff, just messed up a bit. So on the way to the table I summoned the Force and Jedi Pie was born! The kids loved it and not a single bite was left. Now we just go flat pie and still call it by the same name.