Hey there, my fellow frugal friends!
We’re gonna try something new today — a fun and frugal recipe for active (and even picky) families.
One thing I’ve realized in my (ahem) older age, is the constant fluctuation in grocery and meal needs for my household. Now that my two sons are in their early twenties, my partner and I find it’s often just the two of us home for dinner.
Our family life has always been super busy since the boys were actively involved in sports.
Depending on the time of year, they might be at basketball, football, or baseball practice. Then once all of the games started up — good lord, they had us both going crazy driving back and forth.
Then trying to fit some nutrition in there was definitely a constant challenge.
But now that the boys (young men) are starting to live their own lives, they’re not home for dinner as much as they used to be. They either grab a bite on the go or they go out to eat with friends.
So where does that leave the rest of us? When I’m so used to creating huge meals to match the appetites of two growing teenage boys? Well, we have to be creative — and make sure we’re putting all of our refrigerator and pantry items to good use.
Especially when it comes to perishable items. In the past, we’d go through 2 gallons of whole milk per week. Nowadays, we’re lucky if we finish our 1/2 gallon of 1% milk.
With that in mind, I recently planned a quick weeknight meal using a few staples and some existing items from our pantry.
I call it my “Quick & Easy Homemade Pizza for the Frugal Family”.
It’s so simple, extremely versatile, and can be modified in countless ways.
Want a meat lovers pizza? Throw some cooked ground beef and bacon on there.
Veggie pizza? Add spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, broccoli — you name it!
Or how about a buffalo chicken pizza? Add cooked chicken, blue cheese, hot sauce and celery.
And guess what — making it at home is sooooo much cheaper (and more fun) than ordering from the local pizzeria. Also, you don’t need to wait an hour to have it delivered!
So here is my step-by-step guide on creating this Quick & Easy Homemade Pizza for the Frugal Family.
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Step One – Prepare Crust
Buy a pre-made, ready-to-bake pizza crust, like Boboli original pizza crust.
The awesome thing about the ready-made crust is you have this blank canvas that’s ready to go. You just add your special touches, and voila, the perfect work of art!
Also, it’s super-easy to plan variations based on everyone’s particular tastes. My hubby loves pepperoni. But frankly, it gives me heartburn. So we can do half pepperoni, and half whatever I want.
Even better — I know I’m never going to finish half of a pizza as he can. I simply would not be able to keep up. So we can make homemade pizza with 3/4 pepperoni and 1/4 plain cheese.
Have you ever tried to ask for that at your local pizza place? It would definitely be a no-go. Especially if you’re ordering online — As far as toppings go, they’ll only let you do half or whole.
In order to prep your canvas, a neat little trick that I do is add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and brush it across the crust, almost to the edges. I do this before adding the sauce or toppings. This adds a bit of flavor, and helps create a nice golden crust.
Step Two – Add Sauce
Next step — add your favorite sauce! You can use your favorite jarred sauce or even plain old tomato sauce in a can. One of my favorites to use is garlic Parmesan jarred pasta sauce, which adds a nice kick to the flavor.
Add as much or as little sauce as you’d prefer, coating the crust evenly.
Make sure you don’t get too close to the edge. You want to make sure the crust bakes up nice and crispy.
Also, if you’d like to add any extra spices like salt, pepper, garlic powder or oregano, now would be the time.
Step Three – Add Some Cheese
Let’s face it — pretty much everything is better with cheese.
That’s why I like to start with a small layer before adding the toppings. And then follow up with more cheese to top everything off.
You can use shredded cheddar, shredded mozzarella, one of those fancy Italian seasoned mixes, or any combination of your favorites. I start with a layer of shredded cheddar and work my way up from there.
The cool thing about making homemade pizza is you can use any type of cheese you want. If you don’t have shredded cheese, you can use block cheese and slice it thin or grate it. Or you can even use cheese slices layered in a pretty pattern.
Be creative. Use different colors, flavors and textures. Make a piece of pizza art!
Step Four – Add Toppings
This is the fun part. Picking your toppings.
Open up your fridge and pantry — what have you got on hand?
Pepperoni slices are perfect for layering onto your creation.
Or, have you ever tried Genoa salami on your pizza? I kid you not. This is a family favorite. Salami on pizza is amazing — that mixture of seasoned meat and salty flavoring. And when it bakes up nice and crisp, along with the melted cheese — totally to die for! Maybe it’s just a Northeast thing?
Or you can also try cooked ground beef, bacon or chicken.
And what else can you pair with a protein? Check out your canned goods: Roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, sliced mushrooms, black olives. Or how about cooking up some frozen veggies: broccoli, green peppers, onions.
A seafood lover may want to make a clam casino or shrimp scampi pizza. You can easily swap out the red sauce with jarred Alfredo sauce instead.
I’m a huge mushroom fan, and really love when they’re sauteed first. You can fry them up with a little bit of olive oil, cooking spray or a small pat of butter or margarine.
Layer your toppings on the entire crust. Or you can do half on each side if you have picky eaters.
Have your kids help out! They’ll have so much fun “decorating” their sides of the pie. And how neat for them to know they helped to “cook” dinner.
Plus you’ll be sneaking in some veggies, to keep the meal healthy. Fresh spinach adds some vibrant color, and contains beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
Related: Easy Lunch Ideas To Put the ‘Break’ Into Your Lunch Break
Step Five – Add More Cheese
Add a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese to top off your creation, and get ready to bake this baby!
Step Six – Bake
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or to your liking.
*Note – If you’ve piled on the toppings, it may take a little longer to cook and for the cheese to melt.
Check it out — Doesn’t that look amazing???
Make sure to allow sufficient time to cool, and then you’re ready to dig in!
Step Seven – Eat!
In the words of the infamous Joey Lawrence … “WHOAAA!!”
Enjoy your dinner : )
Step Eight – Relax …
YOU just took care of dinner!
Wasn’t that easy??
Now you get to kick back and enjoy the rest of your evening.
- Boboli pre-made crust
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup pasta sauce
- 2 cups shredded cheese
- 1 can mushrooms
- bagged spinach
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the crust on a lined baking sheet or pizza stone. Brush with olive oil almost to the edges.
- Add sauce, again spreading almost to the edges. Sprinkle with a small amount of shredded cheese.
- Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, if desired. Add desired toppings, then another layer of cheese.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden and crispy.