Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Tribute to the Tightwad Gazette

Years ago (dare I say decades? I know it was before the internet) my mother had a subscription to a monthly newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette. The articles were filled with tips for frugal living. Later these newsletters were compiled and published in book format --and you would do well to see if your local library carries them. I still have my three volumes and every time gas nudges upward I'm motivated to peruse the pages in search of another money-saving tip. Some of the ideas are now quaint reminders of the way things used to be--gone is the need to set a timer for long distance calls. Others have stood the test of time. Just a few weeks ago I was helping a homeschooling friend set up a grocery price book to track sales and bargains. My favorite articles were the ones involving math calculations to show how much could be saved by making items from scratch (that was the future accountant in me I suppose). There have been a lot of comercials on TV lately touting the "bargains" by various pizza chains. Dominoes has been selling 1-topping medium pizzas for $5.99. The latest Papa Johns' commercials tout the pizzas they sell are "worth twice" theie sale price of $11. Now pizza is a weekly staple in our family but how do these "bargains" stack up to homemade. Well here are my tightwad calulations.  Normally I try to add some freshly ground wheat into my dough but for ease of math I'm using the recipe as it comes from my bread machine manual.

  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Tbl oil
  • 1 Tbl  sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 Cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast

For toppings we add (approx):

  • 2/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 38 slices pepperoni (yes I counted them)

I recently stocked up on pizza making ingredients from Sam's Club so I'm using current prices                         
Ingredient Price Size Calculations Cost Per Unit Recipe Uses Final Cost
Bread Flour $7.86 25 lbs 3.57 C per lb $0.09 C 2 1/4 C $0.20
Sugar $6.43 10 lbs 37 T per lb $0.02 T 1 T $0.02
Yeast $4.68 32 oz 2.25 t= 1/4 oz $0.04 t 1 t $0.04
Salt $1.38 26 oz 5.1 t per oz $0.01 t 1 1/2 t $0.02
Pizza Sauce $3.88 12 C   $0.32 C 2/3 C $0.17
Mozzarella $10.98 5 lbs 4 C = 1 lb $0.55 C 3/4 C $0.41
Pepperoni $8.38 816 slices   $0.01 slice 38 slices $0.38
Water $0.00   free from well   C 3/4 C $0.00
Oil $2.26 96 T   $0.02 T 1 T $0.02
I found all the ratios for volume per weight on various baking sites on the internet.  The number of pepperoni slices was taken by multiplying the number of slices per serving by the number of servings listed on the  packaging.  I will say that when it comes to toppings I've never been one to cover every square inch of surface.  A taste a pepperoni every bite or two is sufficient.  My pizza already looks like a bargain at $1.27 compared to $5.99 or $11, but let's keep digging.

My pizza measures 12" X 17" (I use the same silpat mat every time) or 204 square inches

Dominoes medium pizzas are 12" in diameter or 113.04 square inches

Papa Johns large pizzas are 16 " in diameter of 200.96 square inches

The volume of the Papa John's pizza is about the same as mine but at 8.6 times the price.  I'd have to buy two Dominoes mediums to get the same volume and it would cost 9.6 times as much.   Since we eat pizza every week, I'm saving over $500 per year by making mine from scratch.  That more than pays for the bread machine I use to make my dough.

(This post is part of The Christian Home blog magazine Issue 24)

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