Tuesday, April 21, 2009

$10 Cooking Challenge

The last several weeks have gone by in a blur. Between Work, traveling for Easter, and now being in full gear working on the wedding, time just keeps slipping by faster and faster.

Thankfully, There is always something good to eat in this whole crazy mess. Not only is there always something good to make, but recently Troy (of Crowz Nest fame) proposed the $10 Cooking Challenge.

The premise was simple, cook an entire meal for $10 or less.

After a lot of thinking and planning, I came to the simple conclusion that $10 for one meal is pretty easy. I started thinking less about the monetary value I had to work with and started thinking more along the lines of "why?"...

I finally settled on making Pizza. I know there are people out there who don't like pizza, but I've certainly never met them. And the simple fact is that a LOT of people DO like pizza. As I was thinking about the shear volume of pizzas sold in this country (somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 Billion a year) I started thinking about what the average household must spend on Pizza every year. To order a pizza, most likely for two to four people, it will run you anywhere from $8.00 to $20.00 depending on what type of eaters you're dealing with. Many people order pizza often too.

I've always found pizza to be the perfect comfort food. And for a long time, especially when I was single, it was my fallback. Was it late? Was I tired? WasI just too lazy to make my own dinner? Order a pizza!

Looking back, I've probably spent more than I'd like to admit on pizza, especially from places that are probably a little embarrassing to admit.

Thankfully, there came a point where I was determined to make my own pizzas. From scratch, with no bitching or whining. I wanted a simplified process that could work in my dinky-assed kitchen in my craptacular electric oven with GOOD results. With a little time and experimenting, I eventually conquered that beast. To be honest, I really took it for granted. It's become so easy to make my own pizza that I just do it... When I'm feeling tired or lazy, I just make pizza.

So when Troy proposed to $10 Challenge, this struck me as a great topic. Not just because of the financial restraint of only using $10, but because of the overall idea of how much money I probably save every year.

It breaks down like this:

Cheese $1.66
LaRosas Sauce $1.69
Yeast $1.99
Pepperoni $1.25

One major flaw in this whole challenge is that I already had flour and sugar on hand. Most people do too, but to buy a 5# bag of each will probably run you around $5.00. Still, The average bag of flour has about 17-19 cups, enough to make at least 5pizzas at home bringing the per-meal cost down significantly.

The same goes with the cheese and sauce. I only used half of the 8oz bag of cheese and maybe a 1/3 cup of the sauce, thus stretching those items out further. Same with the yeast. Yeast, generally, comes in a strip-pack with three pouches, of witch you use less than one per pizza.

To go with the pizza, I made a fresh salad of organic greens with a lemon pepper vinaigrette. That broke down like this:

Lemon $0.33
Organic Spring Mix 3oz @ $3.99lb - $0.75

Fresh vegetables are at almost criminally low prices sometimes. Plus, making the vinaigrette that was delectably reminiscent of Stino's in Cleveland was a huge plus.

In the end, I spent $7.69 to make two 8" Foccacia Pizzas and two generous salad portions with one of my favorite dressings evar!

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