Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is homemade pizza really cheaper than Little Ceasar's?

Have you ever wondered if cooking from scratch is really cheaper than some of the best deals out there, like $5 pizzas? Occasionally, buying something pre-made really is cheaper than buying all the ingredients separately, so I set out to see if pizza is one of those things.
We'll start by using the pizza crust recipe from the Food $ense Creates curriculum. If you already have a favorite pizza dough recipe, the prices probably aren't too far off.

Pizza crust:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon canola oil

I used this brand of whole wheat flour on sale at Macey's for $3.99. That measures out to 26 cents a cup. For 2 cups of flour, 51 cents. If you bought an even bigger bag of flour, it would be even cheaper. I like to use this whole white wheat flour, which is less heavy than the standard red wheat, and it's the same price! Of course, white all-purpose flour is even cheaper, but it doesn't have the benefits of whole grains!

Here's how the rest of the ingredients for the crust work out:

Yeast--bought in bulk @ $9.97 for a 2-pound bag. That's approximately 128 packets which is 7.7 cents each. Buying yeast in individual packets is usually about 75 cents each. 

1 teaspoon salt is about .008 cents. We'll round it up to 1 cent

Sugar--a 5 lb bag is $2.58, so 3.2 cents per ounce.  You can get about 5 teaspoons in every ounce, so that's about 1 cent for 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. 

Water--pretty much free from the tap, but we'll say it costs 1 cent.

Canola oil--$2.24 for 48 ounces measures to 4.6 cents per ounce. Six teaspoons per ounce makes that .74 cents per teaspoon, which we'll round to 1 cent

Total cost of crust: 62.7 cents!

To finish the pizza, we'd use about a half cup of this tomato sauce, which would cost 20 cents. Buying tomato paste and thinning it with water could be even cheaper.

We'd use about a cup of shredded cheese on one pizza, which would be $1.09. Definitely the most expensive part of the pizza.

That brings the total of this cheese pizza to $1.92! You could make two for $3.83, and then use $1.17 for toppings before reaching the cost of a Little Caesar's $5 pizza! Two homemade pizzas for $5 or less, and you'll know exactly what's in it. 

The thing I love about homemade pizza is I can make a lot of pizza dough, then freeze half of it in a zip loc bag. All I have to do is pull it out of the freezer in the morning, and by dinnertime it has thawed out and risen, ready to put on a pan with toppings and bake for 10 minutes. 

 In a Food $ense class recently we made a Thai pizza with peanut sauce, zucchini, and peppers. It was delicious, and probably about as cheap as buying tomato sauce and cheese. You can make a simple peanut sauce by combining peanut butter with some hot water, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. It will be your new favorite vegan pizza!
This is a pizza one of our participants made. Come to our classes, and you can monkey around with your food, too!

Monday, October 13, 2014


Yesterday, the Flu and I were in a battle and you can guess who was winning.  And as much as I didn't want to move from my bed and my comfy pillow, I still had to be Mom.  My chills told me I wanted something warm and comforting and since kids still need to be fed even when parents are recovering from what feels like the plague, dinner was going to happen whether I liked it or not.  This is where some of my best friends saved the day:  Crock Pot, frozen vegetables, and soup base....Plus a little help from these simple steps from Create A Soup:

Best of all, I didn't have to run to the store because I had everything I needed in my pantry and freezer.  A bonus is that food handling was down to a minimum since it was mostly just scooping things into the crock pot and pouring water.  Once the crock pot is set, I could even go take a nap.  :-)   By the way, the soup I made was a Vegetable Barley (add cubed steak for Beef & Barley) and it was delicious and fed everyone for under $2.50/serving.