Updated June 2021
Can a homemade pizza beat the $5.55 pepperoni pizza from Little Caesar’s or a $7 frozen pizza?
I’m going to bust out of my usual don’t-sweat-the-details-or-be-very-precise mode of operation and calculate this down to the last penny.
Here are the ingredients that I use to make the crust of my pizza.
I generally buy my flour when it’s on sale, so a 5-pound bag costs around $4. That means each cup costs $0.20, and the four cups necessary for the pizza dough add up to $0.80.
If you use a cheaper brand of flour, this could easily be as little as $0.40. But I really like my King Arthur bread flour for pizza dough, so I splurge.
The teaspoon and a half called for in the recipe costs a little less than $0.008. In other words, it’s negligible. We can just round it up to a penny to make things easy!
I use plain old tap water, which is so cheap, it’s practically free. I’ll throw in a penny, but I kinda doubt it costs even that much.
Because I buy mine in bulk, each “packet” (2 1/4 teaspoons) costs $0.03.
If you don’t buy yours in bulk, though, your pizza dough is going to be WAY more expensive. Individual packets of yeast are craaazy expensive.
I think this bottle costs around $3.50 (I can’t find my receipt!) which means that 2 tablespoons cost $0.21.
So, the cost for two pizza crusts is $1.06.
And that’s even with olive oil (not canola or corn) and expensive King Arthur flour.
Henceforth, I will not even blink at the price of my King Arthur pizza flour, because $0.53 for a pizza crust is a screaming bargain.
I’m just going to calculate this for cheese pizza because then you can simply add on the cost of the toppings to compare.
A jar of tomato sauce costs me $1.19, so the cup I need for the pizzas costs $0.40.
An 8 ounce block of mozzarella is $1.79. I generally use the whole thing for two pizzas, so that’s coming in at $1.79.
So, the toppings for two cheese pizzas total $2.19.
Total Ingredient Cost
The total cost of ingredients for two cheese pizzas is $3.25, or $1.62 per pizza.
That’s pretty impressive. I thought it would add up to a lot more.
This is a little difficult to calculate, but when I figured the cost of a loaf of homemade bread, I found out that an hour of 350° baking at $0.12/kwh costs $0.24.
For this recipe, though, I have to heat the oven to 500° and it has to stay there for a good hour.
I imagine this would cost maybe double what an hour of 350° baking costs, so I’m going to go with $0.50.
Total Homemade Pizza Cost
$3.25 for ingredients
$0.50 for electricity
$3.75 for two pizzas, or $1.87 per pizza.
So, that means I could add $3.68 worth of toppings to each of my pizzas before they’d reach the Little Caesar’s $5.55 level.
I know for sure that I don’t add $3.68 worth of pepperoni (a whole package only costs about $3.) or vegetables (mushrooms and peppers are really cheap!)
So it’s safe to say that my homemade pizzas are indeed cheaper than Little Caesar’s.
And they even beat the super cheap frozen pizzas (you know…the sort that have almost no cheese on them!)
Plus, homemade pizzas produce less trash overall than frozen pizzas do.
Homemade pizza, even with the cost of electricity factored in, is ridiculously affordable.
However, it does take some time to make.
Most of it is hands-off time, though (oven heating, dough rising), so as long as you’re at home already, it won’t feel like it takes that long.
If, however, you’re working outside the home and don’t have long to prepare dinner, the rising time and oven heating time could feel really inconvenient.
So, frozen or takeout pizzas could look very appealing.
Also, if you’re choosing not between homemade and frozen pizza but between frozen/takeout pizza and eating out, then of course the frozen/takeout option is generally the more budget-friendly option.
Saturday 6th of November 2021
Your waaaaaay off in some of your pricing. Cheese & sauce are triple your estimate, sorry to say.
Friday 11th of June 2021
What kind of cheese do you use? In your other post on why your homemade pizza isn’t good/meh, you mentioned a fancier mozzarella block but in this post it looks like Aldi cheese.
Kim from Philadelphia
Monday 7th of June 2021
Let’s not forget Little Caesars uses cheap cheese- it’s oily and pretty tasteless !
Monday 7th of June 2021
This may not be for everyone but I thought I'd share my pizza technique to inspire those who don't have time. Here's how I make my favorite, Hawaiian Pizza. Its not beautiful, and it wouldn't be considered gourmet. it is tasty & fits my lifestyle. Perhaps it will inspire someone. Like Kristen, I make my own DOUGH. I only make one pizza at a time, so half the dough goes in the freezer. I can my own TOMATO SAUCE in 1/2 pint jars perfect for one pizza. I purchase a 5# block of MOZZARELLA, shred it in my food processor, keep it in the freezer. (when it’s time to make pizza I crumble off 5 oz., after a while in the freezer it gets somewhat compressed & I have to use a knife to break off what I need) I also can my own MUSHROOMS in ½ pint jars. I use half a jar for each pizza. The leftovers go in the freezer. I buy a big can of PINEAPPLE tidbits & portion out 20/pizza and keep them in the freezer. I buy "ends & pieces" CANADIAN BACON. I'm not particular about how the pizza looks. I'm going to chew it up anyway, so I chop the C. bacon up & portion it in 2 oz. portions that go in my freezer. I buy whole OLIVES (I often have an open can of olives in the refrigerator, since one of my go to meals is Taco Salad.) For pizza I slice 15 olives. Then I want Pizza for dinner I pull the pre-portioned ingredients out of the freezer the day before. In the time it takes the oven to preheat I assemble the pizza. If there isn’t a ½ recipe of dough in the freezer already, it takes longer. They don't call me the Frugal Spinster for nothing.
Monday 7th of June 2021
I switched to homemade years ago thanks to your original post. Mostly the bread flour, and CRAZY hot oven, plus plenty of time to rise. I often triple a batch of dough using my bosch mixer, and freeze after the first rise (and punch down) to make it easier. Anyway, I wanted to mention one other thing that has TOTALLY changed my pizza game here. Whole milk mozzarella cheese. It's still usually called low moisture, but it's made from whole milk. It's still a hard(ish) block, just to clarify that I am NOT talking about fresh mozz. But the whole milk stuff just melts so much better and really takes the pizza up yet another notch. I find it hard to locate sometimes, but can find a 5 lb block at my local costco business center, and then we cut and vacuum seal it for the freezer. Anyway, give it a shot! I know for sure walmart carries it, and I sometimes get it at trader joe's. Just so much more flavor - you won't regret it!
Monday 7th of June 2021
Yes! I should have updated the post to include that; I now use the whole milk mozzarella too and I think it totally changes the pizza flavor. Definitely a worthy expenditure.