Amy Clark

How to Save Time, Money, & Make the Perfect Pizza

About five years ago, I decided to stop buying pizzas and started making my own at home. We eat pizza every Friday and the kids look forward to it all week long. As I was preparing the dough this past week, I started thinking about the amount of money I have saved for our family on just this simple and lovely tradition of preparing the family pizza.

If you think about it, it is safe to say that we would spend $15 on a pizza for our family of four. If you multiply that number by four, I am saving us $60 each month on this tiny gesture of savings. If you calculate that over the course of a year, it is $720! Then when I think about  the five years that I have been doing this, I realize that I have saved my family, $3,600 on a little moment of effort.

Maybe you have never made pizza before and are a little intimidated by the process- that is okay! I promise that once you find the perfect recipe that creating pizza at home will be easier than you think! The  process takes practice and a little patience, but once you find the best recipe for your family, you will be sailing through the process in no time at all!

Let’s start with some tips to get you started!

It’s All About the Stone- One of the best investments I ever made in my  kitchen was to buy a pizza stone. I have two of them that I use to make our pizza and the other is used for an additional pizza or cheese bread. Mine came from Pampered Chef, which I absolutely love, but there are many examples of stones you can find on Amazon. On occasion, I have also seen them at discount places like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s in the housewares section.

The stone is the only real investment that I have ever had to make in this process. The only other major tool that is nice to have on hand is a bread machine, stand mixer, or food processor for mixing the dough. Extra tools that can be of use are a  pastry brush, a rolling pin (unless you are good at shaping and throwing dough without a rolling pin), a dough scraper, and a pizza cutter are also great tools to have for pizza night.

Buy Your Baking Supplies in Bulk- I don’t use my wholesale club membership very often except for our family’s eye care needs and for the occasional party. I won’t ever let my membership lapse though because with one trip to buy my baking supplies, my wholesale club membership has earned its space in my wallet. I make a trip twice a year to buy all of the necessary supplies for my baking and pizza-making needs.

Don’t believe me? Here is the current prices from my local Sam’s Club:

25 Pounds Bread Flour- $6.59 (needed depending upon the recipe)

25 Pounds All-Purpose Flour- $6.68 (needed depending upon the recipe)

2 Pounds of Yeast- $4.16

Cheese (5 pounds for $10.43) , pepperoni (5 pounds for $11.88), and crushed tomatoes (102 ounces for $2.68) can also be bought at a fraction of the price, but in the past I have lacked the capacity and ambition of storage for all of the ingredients.

Food storage for my baking ingredients though  is easy because I just store the two containers of flour in under-the-bed storage containers and use coffee mugs for scooping into my flour container. I also keep the yeast in a mason jar in the fridge for quick grabbing on pizza day.

As a side note, if you do own a membership to Sam’s Club, they have a wonderful Click ‘N Pull service that you can utilize for your shopping day and they can pull the ingredients right to the front and email you when your order is ready to pick up. This is a fantastic free service for moms with small children or who are short on time!

Bag it Up- Half of the battle for me is getting all of the ingredients out and assembling them for our pizza night. Instead of doing this process once a week, I started bagging four bags of  ingredients at a time and storing them until our pizza nights roll around. Add a label to the front with what liquid ingredients need to be added, and then enjoy a month of Fridays with minimal effort.

To save a little extra money, hang on to those bags and refill them again with a fresh set of dry ingredients instead of discarding them. Not only will this save you a little green, but the effort is an environmentally conscious one too! Other great options for storage could be a reusable container or, depending on the quantity, a large mason jar.

Hit the Salad Bar- If you don’t want to waste money and only need a handful of vegetables for your pizza, consider visiting the salad bar at your grocery store for the toppings. Salad bars are a great place to visit for a colorful splash to your pizza or to make a supreme pizza without making the grocery investment of buying several vegetables that may not get eaten.

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Over the years, I have tried dozens of pizza dough recipes depending on what we had on hand, how many mouths I needed to feed, and just to add a little variation into our routine. I hope that these recipes will give you some ideas for ways to incorporate a homemade pizza night into your routine. Choose your recipe (based on your cooking equipment) and then jump down to the Friday Night Pizza Routine for cooking directions. It is as easy as that!

Basic Pizza Dough For Beginners (Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen Baking Book)

4- 4 1/4 cups bread flour

1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups warm water

To make this dough in the food processor: Pulse 4 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt together in a food process (fitted with a dough blade if possible) to combine. With the processor running, pour the oil, then water through the feed tube and process until a rough ball forms, 30-40 seconds. Let the dough rest for two minutes then process for 30 seconds longer. If after 20 seconds the dough is sticky and clings to the blade, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour one tablespoon at a time as needed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and form it into a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 /2 hours before using.

To make this dough with the bread machine: Add ingredients as follows- warm water, olive oil, flour, salt, and then add yeast at the top. Turn machine on and select the dough setting. When the machine beeps, you can roll out the dough onto your pizza stone/pan.

Now follow the Friday Night Pizza routine below.

Add a side of cheese bread:

Because of the amount of dough this makes, I am able to make one large pizza and an order of cheese bread on the side. To make the cheese bread, just roll out the dough and then brush with olive oil and then sprinkle garlic salt and Italian cheese blend or mozzarella cheese on top. I bake this at 450 degrees for twelve minutes or until the cheese and dough is a nice golden color. Serve with an extra side of sauce, highlighted in the pizza routine below.

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Basic Pizza Dough (courtesy of “How to Cook Everything,” by Mark Bittman)

1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea slat, plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

Combine the yeast, flour, and 2 teaspoons salt in the container of a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons of oil through the feed tube. Process for 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Grease a bowl with the remaining olive oil, and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. You can cu this rising time short if you are in a hurry or you can let the dough rise more slowly in the refrigerator for six to eight hours.

To make this dough by hand: Combine half the flour with the salt and yeast and stir to blend. Add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add remaining flour a bit at a time; when the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading, adding as little flour as possible- just enough to keep the dough from being a sticky mess. Knead until smooth but still quite moist, about ten minutes. Proceed as above.

To make this dough with a standing mixer: The machine must be fairly powerful or it will stall. Combine half the flour with the salt, yeast, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 cup water; blend with the machines paddle. With the machine on slow speed, add flour a little at a time until the mix has become a sticky ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (switch to the dough hook if necessary). Knead for a minute by hand, adding as little flour as possible, then proceed as above.

To make this dough with the bread machine: Add ingredients as follows- warm water, olive oil, flour, salt, and then add yeast at the top. Turn machine on and select the dough setting. When the machine beeps, you can roll out the dough onto your pizza stone/pan.

Now follow the Friday Night Pizza routine below.

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Pizza Hut Style Pizza Dough

1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cornmeal
3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp yeast

To make this with the bread machine: Add ingredients to bread machine, according to manufacturer’s settings, and run dough setting. After the machine beeps, roll out the dough. You can roll the dough into two 9×13″ pizzas,  two medium pizzas, or a large pizza and one order of breadsticks.

Now follow the Friday Night Pizza routine below.

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Now that you have the dough, it is time to make some pizza. Regardless of the dough, my approach towards making the pizza is always the same.

Amy’s Friday Night Pizza Routine

1 ball of pizza dough
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup 5 or 4 cheese blend
Toppings of your choice
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is preheating, cook the crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt in a pot over low heat for fifteen minutes. Bake the crust only for eight to ten minutes. Pull the crust out and then top with the crushed tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, 5-cheese blend, and toppings of your choice. Put pizza back in and cook for ten to twelve minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is nicely browned.

Do you make pizza at home? What is your routine and recipes for making this family night favorite?

Published March 23, 2010 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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