Save Money and Treat Yourself to a Pizza Week

Save Money and Treat Yourself to a Pizza Week

Pre-made pizza dough is one of the best things in the grocery store. You can find it in the freezer or refrigerated section, it’s usually sold in 16- or 20-ounce balls, and the flavor is pretty reliable across the board. For a couple bucks, you can bring home a versatile yeast dough and make things like cheater cinnamon buns, easy doughnuts, or pretzel bites. But you should really stretch your dough (hehe), and make four personal pizzas from one ball.

Start your pizza week strong

I know four days isn’t exactly a conventional work week but it’s pretty close (for some nurses this is more than a work week of pizza). Buy a ball of pre-made pizza dough. This will likely be from the grocery store, but sometimes pizzerias will sell you dough. I buy a frozen 20-ounce ball and pop it in the fridge on Sunday. By the time lunch rolls around on Monday the dough, has thawed. Lightly flour the countertop and dump the pizza dough onto the flour. Use a knife or sharp bench scraper to cut the dough into quarters.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Just like with pie crust or any dough that you want to roll out or stretch, the shape you start with is the shape you’ll end up with. If you stretch out this odd triangle of dough, you’ll have an oddly triangular pizza. It’s not the end of the world, but the rest of your dough pieces are going to slowly proof in the fridge over the next few days and a round shape with a skin will help its rise. Round off your dough balls and place them seam-side down on some flour. (Check out my bread-shaping 101 video to learn how to roll perky dough balls.)

Flip the dough balls around in some of the excess flour on the countertop and loosely wrap three of the balls in a plastic bag or two so they’re not touching. I usually put them in reused produce bags I brought home from the store. Twist the bags shut and plop the extras in the fridge. Over the course of the week, you’ll find that the bread balls slowly proof and even develop a bit of flavor during this time. 

Make better pizza with better tools:

A perfect personal pizza every time

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

1. Preheat the oven

The fourth ball of dough sitting on your countertop is for today. I eat my pizzas for lunch, but you can wrap and chill this ball of dough in the fridge until the right time for your schedule. Place a tea towel over the dough and let it hang out on the counter while you preheat the oven to 400°F. I like to use a cast iron skillet to make personal pizzas, but you can use a pizza stone, Dutch oven, or a parchment lined sheet tray. Preheat the heavy cooking vessels in the oven, but there’s no need with the sheet tray. They heat up in no time.

2. Stretch the dough

Once the oven is hot, lift the ball and use your finger tips to flatten the dough while rotating it. Be sure to start from the center as you rotate and stretch the dough. It should stretch easily since the gluten has rested, but if you find that the dough is pulling back together, lay it down on the lightly floured countertop and allow it to rest for another five minutes. Go back and try stretching it again. The dough will become quite thin, and that’s totally fine as long as you don’t rip a hole in it. 

3. Add toppings and bake

Once the round is about 8 or 9 inches across, I carefully set it into my hot cast iron skillet. There’s about a minute of buffer time to unwrinkle and adjust the dough in the pan before it begins to set and cook. Then top the dough however you like. Swipe on tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, or one of these alternative sauces, and add cheese and toppings. Bake it for about 15 minutes for a crispy bottom, or take yours out sooner if you like it less well-done.

You can top the pizzas in a different way every day, or even skip a day if you need to—the dough won’t overproof until about day five. See? Saving money has its perks. It’s only been Pizza Monday and you still have three more potential pizzas waiting in the fridge. That’s a work week I can look forward to. 

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