Pizza Delivery Too Expensive? Try This Instead

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  • Inflation has sent the cost of restaurant food soaring.
  • You can make pizza at home with a little elbow grease, and it'll come out exactly the way you want.
  • Not only will this activity save you money, it's great family fun as well.

You might want to wear an apron.

When I was a kid, my family didn't have a ton of extra money, but we splurged a little and frequently ordered pizza or Chinese food delivery on Friday nights. Especially during the school year, it was a great way to start the weekend, and while I've tried to continue this tradition as an adult in my own place, I've had to reevaluate because of the cost. The cost of food away from home rose 8% between August 2021 and August 2022, per the Consumer Price Index. Price hikes aren't unique to fine dining establishments; pizza delivery king Domino's forecasted increasing costs for its ingredients and supplies at the beginning of this year, and modified its promotions strategy (and prices) as a result.

So, what's a pizza fan to do on a Friday night, to start the weekend off with a bang? I've been making my own, and I enjoy it so much that I rarely miss pizza delivery. And my bank account certainly appreciates my DIY approach!

Source your ingredients

Pizza is one food that is extremely easy to make with a wide variety of ingredients. You can play with a variety of breads for your crust, for example. Got leftover French bread from dinner earlier in the week? That can become pizza. Same thing with English muffins or flat breads. I usually opt for premade pizza crusts, but you can also buy premade pizza dough. Or, if you feel ambitious, you can absolutely make your own dough from scratch.

As far as what else to use, the sky's the limit. You can use whatever sauce you want, be it homemade or store-bought. Same goes for cheese and toppings. If you have exotic taste, you can customize your own pizza in ways your local pizza joint never imagined. I'm a big fan of olives, and I usually have at least three or four different kinds of jarred or canned olives on hand. The big pizza joints usually only offer canned black olives as a topping choice, which are the boring tan sedan of olives. And if you like to go overboard on your pizza toppings, you will definitely save money making it yourself! For example, my preferred national pizza chain charges $2.29 for extra cheese…ouch.

Get the whole family involved

I don't have kids myself, but I have enough parent friends to know the appeal of a low-cost activity, especially as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. If you have little kids, they can be trusted to help spread tomato sauce and add cheese and toppings (and they'll likely love to help). And for that matter, making your own pizza is a great way to spend time (as well as save money) with a spouse, a partner, or roommates.

Enjoy the savings

I decided to run the numbers for my weekly pizza night, and compare my costs to what I'd spend ordering a pizza from my favorite big national chain. If I order a large mushroom, black olive, and pepperoni pizza out, I will spend $22.34. This doesn't include tax, delivery fees, or a tip, which would push my pizza order up to $30 territory.

Here are the costs if I make the same pizza myself at home, using items from my neighborhood grocery store. Most can be used for multiple pizzas, so I've included the cost of each per pizza, as well:

Ingredient Purchase price Per-pizza cost
Premade 12" crust $5.59/each $5.59
Pizza sauce $2.39/14 ounces $0.60
Shredded mozzarella cheese $2.79/8 ounces $1.40
Pepperoni $4.39/5 ounces $1.46
Canned mushrooms $1.39/4 ounces $1.39
Sliced black olives $1.79/3.8 ounces $0.60
Data source: Price Chopper.

The cost of one pizza made at home, using these (admittedly plain) grocery store ingredients? $11.04. That's less than half the cost of ordering one from my favorite pizza chain, and closer to one-third of the cost if I had it delivered. And I get to have the fun of making (and then eating) my own culinary creation. What could be better than saving money and eating delicious pizza?

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