Monday, April 30, 2012

Foods that I'm dreaming of

So, Saturday night was the school fundraiser.  Get dressed up, eat appetizers, drink wine, bid on items to raise money for our school.  It was located at a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church with a great view of the mountains and ocean.  Now, it's hard for an-almost-7-months pregnant woman to appreciate this fully.  I have a hard time standing for a long time, I can't drink wine, and the list of unsafe foods is pretty long.

Plus, there's the whole "looking pretty" when you are as big as a house.  Yes, I was the only pregnant woman there, and I pieced together a silver skirt with a stretchy waist and a pink top, with silver flip flops.  We were supposed to be "casual elegant".  I wasn't elegant.  But that's okay.  I did wear makeup for the first time in 2012.

In any event, the sparkling lemonade was good and the food was awesome.  I was worried, as was my paleo / SCD neighbor.  But we needn't have worried too much.  Now I am dreaming of those vegetable spring rolls.  I didn't try them to near-end of the evening because I thought they had sprouts.  Turns out, those were rice noodles.

The spring rolls had carrots, cucumber, red peppers, and rice noodles with a peanut dipping sauce.  There were chicken ones also - didn't try those.

The crudite platter was artfully arranged with a variety of sticks going vertically - multiple colors of peppers, cucumbers, carrots, celery, zucchini, with a sun-dried tomato dip.  There was a grilled vegetable platter with olives, fresh mozzarella, and mushrooms, peppers, and asparagus.

The fruit platter was gorgeous.

Of course there was a lot of cheese and bread/crackers, crab cakes, chicken skewers, empanadas.  There were tortilla rollups (that I couldn't eat because of the deli meat/sprouts), mini-pizzas, and a bunch of other things I didn't try because I wasn't quite sure what they were.

Those spring rolls with the peanut sauce and roasted vegetable platter...those, I am dreaming of.

We spent about $280 and came home with a membership to the Natural History Museum, a knitted baby cap, a globe/lamp for my son's room, a 3-class trial yoga membership, and the quilt I made and donated.  I decided to out-bid my friend and show it in our quilt show this year.  And then probably give it away.  I already have a taker (my step-dad really liked the photo).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Meal Plan - Update

I like it when things last a little bit longer than I expect.  Here's an update:

Lunch: Leftover frittata, salad
Dinner: Leftover bean/chicken/veg burritos.  Here's the filling with the veg as I was cooking:  cabbage, onions, peppers, carrots.  Later on added pinto beans and chicken.

Lunch: Leftover frittata.  For me, hubs had a business lunch.  But he ate frittata for breakfast after getting his bloodwork done.  Results: low good cholesterol (as usual), meaning - eat more fish.  So then we move to...
Dinner: Baked salmon with dill, dijon, and brown sugar glaze (from the neighbor...he has a "fish guy"), with frozen green beans.  We wanted to get dinner done fast - spouse cooked and I wasn't home from the CSA yet.  I love this fish.  6 ingredients, really easy.  We bake ours at 375F for 35 minutes, vs. broiling.  I don't broil much.  The oven doesn't like it, and the fish was too big for the toaster oven. 

Lunch: Last of the frittata
Dinner:  Leftover salmon, the last of the chicken burrito stuff, and kale chips.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan, and Frittata

I decided I should post a weekly meal plan.  I plan my meals almost a week in advance anyway.  Sometimes I make substitutions depending on whether the leftovers last longer or not long enough.

I usually have to plan things out to use up our CSA veggies.  Often, my spouse does dinner on Tues/Friday (he's home earlier) so I aim for easy those nights.  So far this week, we're carpooling.  He can't drive yet.

Lunch: birthday parties
Dinner: Hamburgers, salad with lemon-garlic-mustard dressing

Lunch: Bits of leftovers, bread, fruit
Dinner: Ina Garten's Roast Chicken and vegetables, salad with lemon-garlic-mustard dressing and avocado.  I did not take a picture.  I used potatoes, carrots, and onions.

Lunch: Chicken sandwich, Mediterranean chickpea salad
Dinner: Chard-onion-bacon frittata, salad with lemon-garlic-mustard dressing and avocado (can you tell we've got lots of lemons from our neighbor?)  Bread with bruschetta.

Lunch: Chicken sandwiches, leftover roasted vegetables
Dinner: Chicken and bean burritos, stir-fried greens, leftover roasted vegetables.

Lunch: Leftover frittata, salad
Dinner: Soup from freezer (ham, bean, cabbage)

Lunch: Leftover frittata
Dinner: Soup from freezer, whatever veggies we get from the CSA

I got nuthin'.  We'll see what we've got by then.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I made hamburgers!

I never make hamburgers.  Usually I pay $7 a pound for the local, free range beef and then STREEEETCH it as far as I can in a soup or casserole (chili with beans, 1/2 oz meatballs, etc.)  But I started feeling like burgers last weekend.

My husband is the burger guy.  He has this great recipe from the lone cookbook he brought to our marriage - Better Homes and Gardens. Well, that's not really true.  He had 2-3 more, but I got rid of most of them.  Just couldn't get into the Joy of Cooking.

Anyway, I was all set to do stir-fried greens and have him make burgers yesterday.  It was a busy day that started with my Sat morning walk to the farmer's market (2.7 miles), and I was actually pretty speedy and less waddle-y yesterday.  My neighbor caught me on the way there and offered to give me a ride home.  So yay!  After that it was 2 kids' birthday parties, and that's when disaster struck in the form of a sprained ankle.

So, we spent some time in urgent care and my spouse spent some time on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on his ankle.  So making the burgers was up to me.  Turns out: they're pretty easy.

Better Homes Burgers:
1 egg, beaten: 0.25
2 Tbsp milk: 0.05
2 Tbsp onion, minced: 0.05
1 clove garlic, pressed: 0.05
1/2 tsp dry mustard: 0.05
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper: 0.02
3/4 cup homemade fresh breadcrumbs: 0 (I just save bits and pieces of old bread).  Much less if using dry storebought.
1 lb ground beef: $7
Total: $7.47 for four 1/4-lb burgers.  $1.07 per burger.

Mix everything except the beef really well in a bowl.  Add the beef and mix well.  Form into four 3/4-inch thick patties or six 1/2 inch patties. We always make four.

Broil 3-4 inches from the heat for 15-18 mins (I did 20), flipping part way.  I use the toaster oven.

I was so happy to have them done and hungry that I forgot to take a nice picture of the competed project, so here's a picture of the lone leftover burger.  Of course, when you add the bun (0.25 each) and condiments, it comes out closer to $1.50 per burger.  Still, delicious and higher-quality beef than (the still very yummy) local burger place, which is about $3.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rosemary and Cheese Scones

I used THIS RECIPE, and edited a bit based on some recommendations by other users and other recipes.  I added 1 Tbsp of sugar and decreased the baking powder to 1 TBSP.  Then I added 1/2 to 2/3 c of cheese and 1 TBSP dried rosemary.  SO easy and these are the BOMB.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Enchiladas, A REALLY GOOD SALAD RECOMMENDATION, and my son's concoction

My son must be a food blogger in the making.  On our last night of the soup last week, he turned it into his own "creation", and wanted me to write down the recipe and take a picture.  So here it is, in all of its glory:

I can't find the recipe card, but it's basically the last of the soup, a cracker, and a piece of cornbread with honey all mixed together.   Yummy huh?  Well, he liked it.

Yesterday I had a great girls' lunch with my buddy Maryanne.  We used to chat all of the time in the morning at work, and now...well, I quit that company 3.5 years ago, and she quit last year to stay at home with her 1.5 year old.  And now we never see each other.  It's terrible.  But on a positive note, our lives are so lame on the weekend that she can call me at 11:15 on a Saturday and we can go to lunch at noon. Yay!

Our "place" is CPK (California Pizza Kitchen).  She always orders the broccoli sun-dried tomato fusilli.  I could order for her.  I change each time, and this time I was feeling salad (about 75% of the time, I am feeling salad).  Eliminating deli meats and soft cheeses narrows down the choices for me easily.  The base salad (Roasted Vegetable Salad) I had, I believe, was vegan (I can't speak for the dressing), but I added shrimp.  It's "new" on the menu and is a roasted vegetable salad.  It's a dijon vinaigrette over romaine, and warm roasted veggies - asparagus, corn, peppers, eggplant, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes.  And avocado on top.  Delish! (and left room for dessert).  I just love it when I can eat out and fill up on many cups of vegetables.

Last night I made enchiladas for dinner.  I think the best enchiladas are made from leftover bits and pieces.  These were quite tasty and ... different ... because I used the easter ham, with potato, pinto beans, onions, hot peppers, and corn.  Served with our world famous kale chips!

I think I may try vegan enchiladas next time with potatoes, beans, and kale.  I still have that vegan cheese I bought accidentally. Should use it.  I should check to see when it expires.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I can't find my camera battery charger. And...the good and the bad. camera battery is dead, and I don't know where the charger is. I probably last used it on Spring Break.  That's a bummer.  Here's to hoping we can find it.

This was a good week and a bad week, as they are when spouse was traveling.  I had all day training on Thursday at work.  That was a bad day.  Wednesday was a difficult evening - the pinnacle of work and home exhaustion and frustration.  Poor baby "mommy are you mad?"  "No sweetie, just tired."

My meals on Thursday were thus:
2 pcs toast with egg and cheese (this is normal), small OJ
pastry at the training
mini struesel muffins at the training (probably 4 or 5)
3 slices pizza (training)
chocolate chip cookies at the training
2 bottles water
out for burgers at dinner: burger (with onion, lettuce, tomato at least) and fries

A banner day, and I paid for that burger with hearburn and tasting it all night long.  But my son and I had fun at the restaurant just chatting and eating, then home for bath, cards (he beat me at Go Fish, Crazy 8's, AND I ended up with the Old Maid), finishing off the latest book "The Mouse and the Motorcycle", and bed.

Friday, I cleaned up my act a bit
Banana whipped oats (from Kath Eats!) with sunflower seed butter
Pink lady apple with cheddar cheese
KIND bar
1 to 1.5 cups steamed romanesco (in the broccoli family)
Ham sandwich on whole wheat with a whole avocado and pickles (I made this)
100 calorie dark chocolate bar
Salad with avocado, oranges, and cashews
3/4 cup mac and cheese (yes, from a box, but it was organic!)
a couple of crackers with local hummus

I had my 2nd round of acupucture yesterday, and actually slept almost 8 hours last night, yippee!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Single parents

Okay, anybody who chooses to become a single parent (doesn't have it thrust on them due to death, accident, divorce, etc.) and cannot afford a  live-in nanny is either really stupid or bat-shit crazy.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Of course I made soup with the leftover ham.

Ham, cabbage, kale, pinto beans (because I had 'em), onions, garlic, celery, corn.  Bay leaf, thyme, pepper.

It was a little bland.  Better on day 2, but still needed a little salt.  I didn't salt it the first day because of the ham.  Still, since the veggies were fresh and the beans were from dried and the veg bouillon was sodium free, I guess it still needed a little bit of salt.

I love leftovers.  Tonight dinner was easy...soup and leftover cornbread, and I had 1/2 of a ham sandwich with avo and pickles.  Very few dishes too.  I really go as easy as possible when spouse is traveling, so I can spend more time with my kid.  Tonight, we did homework and spelled out words and sentences during dinner. I'm not sure how I feel about the first sentence he wanted to write.  I didn't really want to get into the difference between "pregnant" and "fat", especially since I've seen the size of my thighs lately.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cinnamon rolls

I love cinnamon rolls.  My mom used to make them all the time, and I helped her on occasion.  They were pretty labor intensive.  I don't know that I have her recipe, but I'm guessing that she used her regular bread dough recipe for the base.  The fillings varied.  She usually didn't frost them.  Instead, she made "sticky buns".  She would put butter, sugar, cinnamon in the bottom of the pan when she put in the rolls.  Sometimes she'd add raisins or walnuts in the filling too.  I was a big walnut fan, but I think my stepdad liked the raisins.

Anyway, I've never made them before.  Several years ago, some friends from up north were visiting (we just visited them on spring break) and they gave me an America's Test Kitchen cookbook.  I have never made anything from it, but I mentally bookmarked the "quick" cinnamon roll recipe.  This must have been close to 10 years ago. 

Today, I finally made them.  The "quick" part of them is that they are made with a biscuit-type dough, not a yeast dough.  Boy, Paula Deen would be proud...lots of butter.  They took me about an hour or so to make (I had help from my 6 year old).  They are labor intensive, as all cinnamon rolls are, but not very difficult.

Step 1 is to grease the pan and make the filling.
Step 2 is to make the dough, and the liquid is buttermilk and melted butter, so that was pretty easy.
Step 3 is to pat out the dough into a rectangle, no rolling.
Step 4 is to fill and roll.
Step 5 is to cut and put in pan.
Step 6 is to frost.

I didn't much care for the frosting, which also had buttermilk in it.  Too much tang.  Next time I won't use buttermilk in the frosting.

One disadvantage is that they say they are only good for about 2 hours because they are made of biscuit dough.  We'll be testing that out for sure.  Reheating can do wonders I think. 

Last night we had folks over for an Easter Ham Dinner.  Boy, we haven't had people over in forever.  I was too busy cooking, talking, and eating to take pictures.  We had spiral ham, aloo gobi, salad with olives, oranges, and cucumbers.  We snacked on strawberries, crackers, cheese, and hummus before dinner (the couple with the 1.5 year old were WAY late, but that's what happens - you cannot predict naptime).  We had ice cream cones after.  We bought beer for the boys (one of the other women was pregnant too), but not a single beer was drank (drunk?)  Anyway, I think the spouse is going to take the beer with him on this business trip.  We already had 3 beers in the fridge from 6 months ago.

Friday, April 6, 2012

On the Menu: spaghetti, meatballs, rice, lentils

I didn't have much in the way of leftovers from this weekend.  I was sick as a dog all weekend, and am still recovering.  I did get my wonderful husband to make meatballs from meat I bought at the farmer's market.  $7 a pound, but happy cows and so delicious.  It's a treat in our household.  The crushed red pepper made them a little too spicy for our son.  Every once in awhile you'd get a spicy bite.

I put them on top of skillet spaghetti and we had sauteed broccoli raab on the side.  The finished product: (my son's plate).

Spaghetti was definitely on the menu this week, as I also made cashew sesame noodles, to use up the cilantro we got from the CSA.  Love those noodles.  Still eating them for lunch.  And easy.  Boil pasta, make the sauce in the blender.  Toss.

Other nights were definitely meant to be easy.  I could have made them easier.  I made rice and lentils.  The lentils were from a pouch "Tasty Bite" Madras lentils.  The rice was just white rice in the rice cooker, but my son complains that he doesn't like rice.  He does, really.  But he likes "orange rice" (spanish/mexican rice at restaurants).  So I made the rice then sauteed it in a pan with onion, tomatoes (for the red), turmeric (for the yellow - makes orange!), and cumin, pepper, and oregano.

I topped this with avocado, and then made kale chips on the side.  My husband was LATE (he made our Costco run) and I had to do them myself this time.  They weren't bad!

Up tonight is leftovers, more kale chips, and some soup from the freezer (potato spinach).

Up this weekend is cook a ham on Saturday...the one day a year I cook a ham, and prep for the week.  Doin' the single parent thing next week, hubby is on a business trip.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why It's Okay to Not Be Perfect

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

Here's a bit of information about myself. I'm type-A. Very type-A. I tend to be a hard charger and pretty hard on myself. Certainly, moving to Cali from the east coast and having a child have mellowed me - in a good way. I have learned to cut myself some slack. But I have a history of being a hard-charger, from being HS valedictorian, varsity volleyball player (did I mention I'm only 5'2.5"?), president of the National Honor Society, yearbook editor in HS. Then of course onto college where I took 19-21 credits per semester, was in NROTC, majored in Chemical Engineering in a top-10 school, held down a job for 5/8 semesters, and pulled a 3.7 gpa, graduating 5th in my class. Then of course I worked full time in the Navy, got my master's degree at night, and played on a few volleyball teams to boot.  Right about now I have a FT job, I'm pregnant, have a 6 year old, and decided to make a quilt to donate to my son's school fundraiser.  So, I like to be busy. 

When I started running a few years ago, I decided to try a half marathon.  That's pretty hard-core to most people (maybe not the marathoners or ultramarathoners).  Understand that I am short, stocky, and built more like a sprinter.  But then I got injured just before my 2nd half.  I ran it anyway, then "cut back" by training for a triathlon.  And then I eventually had to stop running.  For about 9 months.  THAT was one of times that I realized that I'm not perfect, and had to cut myself some slack.  I had three women tell me "it's great that you are listening to your body".  But the tone - they  meant 3 different things.  One of them meant "it's great that you are listening to your body."  One of them meant "wimp."  One of them meant "OMG I hope that never happens to me, I'd die if I had to quit running."  The thing is, none of them had to experience my daily sharp shooting sciatica pain, so they really couldn't relate.

You all know that I am interested in frugality, healthy cooking, and simple living. A lot of this has to do with my upbringing. I like to think about it, talk about it, learn how to do things better. I like to practice frugailty, find new ways to save money/spend less/ do more with less.  I also like to encourage others to do the same.  With math.  Like "if I pack my lunch and my spouse's lunch every day - in 5 years, it's a new car."  But I do see, on occasion, that I can take it too far.

You know when your spouse says something like "sometimes it's not enough for you. It's one thing to try and keep our grocery bill to $200/month. But then you try to do it while shopping organic and local and only buying meat at the farmer's market". And he's right. It's all about balance and choices. If your main goal is to eat 100% local, you will have a harder time keeping it frugal. If your main goal is frugal (by necessity or desire), then it will be harder to be local. If you are really into eating paleo and local, then throw frugal out the window (unless you kill your own meat and have chickens for your eggs). This is why my life is shades of gray, and I'm always trying to improve in certain areas - but with tradeoffs.

I have a love for the blog Mr. Money Mustache. This guy is badass when it comes to frugality and how to retire early. And he has a "take no prisoners/ no complainypants attitude" that I love. And I hate it at the same time. Because my life is shades of gray. Some people cut themselves slack - too much slack - and it keeps them in the consumer mindset and the merry-go-round longer and longer.   You know people like this.  I know people like this.  But sometimes, you HAVE to cut yourself some slack, but just know when and for how long. I've had periods of my life where we were super frugal in many areas, compared to most others. But I'm not right now (hence the slack). Examples:

1. When some people complain about gas prices, I mention riding my bike to work. I hear a lot of "but I can't because..." but I live in a beautiful area with great weather.  And I live 10 miles from work.  So anyone who lives closer than me is really just complaining.  Then again, right now, I'm pregnant, and I'm not riding. So, I am cutting myself some slack.

2. When I have more energy, I do things like carefully plan out my meals weeks in advance - so I am carefully using everything in the pantry, buying in bulk, baking most of my own bread, making my own yogurt. It can be a delicate dance of buying and making just enough and not wasting any food. But again, I'm pregnant. I didn't expect to be this exhausted the 2nd time around (and everything starts to hurt earlier), but I also didn't expect to have 2 hours of insomnia every night for the last 6 months. And I underestimated what it would be like to be pregnant at 41 WITH a child already (while working as an engineering manager at a startup company). So instead, I bake SOME of my own bread. I buy big tubs of yogurt. I do my best to cook from the pantry, but I also keep canned beans on hand and grilled cheese makes it onto our menu a LOT.  I have more cereal and toast for breakfast, less homemade oatmeal.  I figure that because I am successfully eating all of our CSA produce weekly without waste, that I'm a success! Even though our grocery bill has gone up by about 20%.

3.  Exercise.  I love exercise.  When I was pregnant with my son, at this point in the pregnancy, I was working out longer and harder.  These days, I am happy to get in 30 mins 4 days a week.  My max walk lately has been 3-4 miles, not the 6 I was doing last time around.  It's the slack.  I am careful, however, to not cut myself TOO much slack, because it's "use it or lose it".  I know that if I stop entirely, it will be harder to start up.  (I haven't stopped exercising entirely in decades, so that's not really a risk, just an example.)

The important thing to remember when you cut yourself slack is to keep learning and keep striving to be better - but maybe not perfect.  "The perfect is the enemy of the good" says my boss.  The outside world does so much to make it hard for all of us. 

For one thing, there's the "stuff". The hardest thing about the "stuff" is that everyone else has it. And what's another $400 on an Ipad? Or $25 on a meal out? I can afford it, right? And look at how cool all those smart phones are!  You can access your email and facebook from anywhere!  You can find a restaurant or hotel on the fly!  Well, frugality is a like a muscle. As you practice, you get stronger. You learn more ways to save money. It gets easier to say no. But then life happens and you slip. What's important when you slip is to cut yourself some slack...but not too much slack. Like an eating binge, you don't want that 5 lb gain to turn into 20 lbs. You don't want that one night of ordering pizza to turn into ordering in 3x a week, every week.  And you don't want that $100 expense to turn into $1000. It's always good to visit frugality blogs and forums to get support and a kick in the pants when you need it.   But recognize when you need the support, and when you need the kick in the pants.

I have really enjoyed reading Mrs. Money Mustache's "what a baby really needs" post. I have a niece who is pregnant with her first child, and she registered for a bunch of baby stuff. And I REMEMBER thinking that I'd need all of that too. And how little we used. We got rid of literally everything but the high chair with our first son (we were "one and done"...oops). This second time around - not so much.  We don't really need all that much.  I have purchased so little this far it's scary.  And my friends are purging too, which helps.  This is the kick in the pants that I need.

I love to vacation, but I'm scaling back my expectations - fewer trips to Hawaii (airfare! yikes!), more short car trips to lovely So Cal destinations. And more camping. I was just thinking about this recently anyway, after reading a recent book called "Living Off Off Grid". A week in Hawaii would have been $5000 this year. A week in Palm Springs would have been more like $1000-1500. (Our vacation in Yosemite/Bay Area was around $1200). How many hours do I have to work to afford that vacation? Crazy huh? I work a week just to afford to take a week off. The author of this book pointed out that people work hard, save money, and then spend a week "getting away from it all" camping when...couldn't they just live more like that in the first place?  This in particular has been a bit of an epiphany. Why don't I just take a week off?  Or work less?  (For the record, I will be cutting my hours by 25% after my maternity leave is over. My experience last time I worked PT is that our happiness level went WAY up and we didn't miss the money. I may actually be effectively doing this before I go on mat leave by taking every Friday off for the next 3 months). In reality, I *know* my kid would rather have the extra time with me than the money anyway. What does he ask for more often...another Lego, or for mom or dad to pick him up early from school? It's a no-brainer. He wants to be picked up early.

Only you and your close friends and family can TRULY know when you are being a "complainypants" and when you are just cutting yourself some temporary slack.  Outside people can give you perspective when your inner circle is caught up in the merry-go-round of consumerism.  They can also identify if you are just being...negative.  There are negative people and positive people, and I've found that optimism and the realization that I have control over my own life (I am not a victim) have really helped me achieve success.  Perfection is a good goal, but if failing at perfection means you give up entirely and throw your hands in the air and go back to your old ways (is that your personality?), then learn to compromise. But only a little. :) 
I've decided at this point in my life that it's okay to compromise in areas that maybe other people wouldn't, and maybe think are silly/stupid.  Pregnancy, work stress, insomnia, and severe illness have really taken it out of me.  This winter, I visited my family for the holidays and my mother passed away unexpectedly the day after I arrived.  I never got to talk to her, hold her - she was just gone.  I am still grieving, going through a pregnancy with a baby who will never meet his maternal biological grandparents (they are both gone - he will have my stepdad and my husband's parents).  I cannot call up my mom and share stories about the baby kicking, and tell her how excited my son is to be a big brother (she never even knew I was pregnant.)  It's a huge gaping hole in my life that I haven't adjusted to just yet.  And yet, I've learned some great things from this experience.  My mom's death was alcohol related and self-inflicted.  She spent much of the last decade as a "victim" to everyone else's outside influences.  I will NOT be that way.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Pizza Calculations

I know that I've done this before, but times and prices change so it's always good to revisit.  I decided to do the calculation today because the 3 of us mowed through one pizza and one focaccia (which is the same as a pizza except without the toppings).  I assume that before I know it, we'll be mowing our way through 2.  So how much money am I really saving?  I mean, you can get 2 medium pizzas from Dominos for $6 each, and they've definitely improved their flavors the last few years.  I prefer more local pizza places, but you'll be paying $13 a pizza there, easy.

We don't eat pizza that often - once or twice a month, but for this price, maybe I should do it every week.  And yes, we always add a veggie (steamed, stir-fried, or salad) on the side.

I use the bread machine recipe to make the dough, and the recipe makes 3 medium shells.  Or 2 large.  But the 2 large are a bit too large for my pans, so I do 3.

So here's the summary, for 3 pizzas:
Dough:  $1.06
Man, this is cheap.  But my whole wheat flour is only $0.60/lb at Trader Joe's, and the bread flour (I do 1/2 and 1/2) is about the same price when purchased in a 10-lb bag.  Most of this is the flour (71 cents).  The rest of the money is yeast (I buy in 2 lb bags at Costco, so it's pennies), dry milk, oil, water, and salt.  All cheap ingredients.  Lastly is a little oil and cornmeal for the pans.

Sauce: $0.50
Here I am using storebought marinara, assuming 1/4 cup per pizza.  ($2 for 24 oz.) Any more than that and you'll get soggy pizza, in my opinion (unless you cook it down, and I'm too lazy).

Onion: $0.20
I like sauteed onion on my pizza, and they're cheap.

Olives: $0.80
Our topping of choice, and I like good olives.  A mix of kalamata and green.

Cheese: $3.75
This is the good cheese, about 3 oz per pizza. I buy a 4-cheese mix of pre-shredded from Trader Joe's.

Total: $6.31 for 3 pizzas, or a shockingly trim $2.10 per pizza!  A 65% savings over Dominos, and healthier to boot.

Options to make it even cheaper:
Dough: Buy flour in bulk, and you can probably make it cheaper.  You can get AP flour as loss leaders during the holidays and you can make the dough by hand without the dry milk.

Sauce: Make your own from canned tomatoes in the #10 can (which are about $2.50 for 100 oz).  Or even better, can your own marinara from home grown tomatoes.  This can be affordable, but it depends on your locale, your space, your desire to garden, and your water costs.  I actually used home-canned marinara most recently (from CSA tomatoes that we got on a "pick all you want for free" day).

Olives: you can buy cheaper olives, or use cheaper toppings

Cheese: mozzarella can be had for approximately $2/lb at Costco and similar stores.  That will shave $2.64 off your 9 oz of cheese.  That alone cuts your per pizza cost to $1.22 per pizza!  That's a savings of 80% off Dominos!

Now, it's important to note that I did NOT factor in costs to run the oven in these calculations.  But then again, if I got take-out or ordered in from Dominos, I'd have to pay for gas/ give a tip. So I consider it a wash.