With money tight these days and the cost of living rising, it can be tough to find cash for even the little luxuries of a night out at the movies following dinner at perhaps an Italian restaurant. The theatre part alone can easily run more than $25 with two adults and two kids.
You may even say to yourself, “Sure, we could stay home. But if the pizzeria won’t deliver, we get stuck with heated frozen pizza. What a pain!”
But you can afford a fun Friday or Saturday – or another other – night with just a little advanced planning and a tiny bit of shopping. The result can be far better than a soggy-in-the-middle heated frozen pie and a wonder over those awful on-the-shelf pizza kits you can buy.
Take this idea, for example: for the cost of the movie tickets alone, you can buy a decent pizza stone, similar to the kind used in some Italian restaurants to bake pizzas. This stone is designed to be heated ahead of time and then serves as the baking spot for your homemade pizza or a decent quality rising crust frozen pizza (once you’ve had the latter prepared on a pizza stone, you will never return to a cookie sheet).
Then, for far less than the cost of feeding four at a pizzeria, you can purchase all the ingredients you want to make custom pizzas, at home, either with ingredients left over for another night or used to top additional pies that night. The latter works great with kids who get to choose their own toppings. Also, you can experiment with toppings you rarely have but want to try. I highly recommend the langostino (lobster meat) and bacon and/or black olive and the black olive, roasted red pepper, and red onion pizza is a vegan wonder. Experiment with different cheeses as well, which can modify both the texture and taste of the resulting pizza.
Unless you’re an experienced and dependable dough maker, save yourself time and effort by purchasing prepared pizza doughs. You can find these in the freezer case. Many stores make and sell their own pizzas and most of these make extra crust dough to sell in one pizza sizes, often for $1 or less.
Some also sell tomato sauce specially for pizzas plus jars of pizza sauce, although you can also press certain marinaras and other spaghetti sauces into service for your meal. A thicker sauce works best, but you can slowly cook a wetter marinara until it thickens. And, of course, the more industrious can make their own sauce, or create one from a can of diced tomatoes – perhaps with one Italian seasonings already added – that you can simmer into a thicker sauce and customize as you want.
If you decide to make homemade pizza night a regular event, you benefit from having a regular assortment of ingredients on hand so you can mix and match. The idea is a hit for super bowl parties, impromptu weekend get togethers, and even children’s parties with adults supervising the pizza making. All adult parties may want to open a bottle of Chianti or add some good beer to chase down the pizza slices.
Before you make your first pizza, do yourself a favor and buy a package of corn meal. This works better than flour for both covering the pizza stone so the dough does not stick to it as well as for dusting onto the dough before you roll it out with a rolling pin. The corn meal tastes better, too, when a light dusting is left in place for cooking.