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Monday, March 9, 2015

Using my supplies prudently: measuring the cheese for pizza

So, I bought four 5-lb bags of grated pizza cheese last week. Of course, I had to make pizza that very same night. I like pizza as much as the rest of the family!

What I did differently, this time around, was to actually measure the amount of cheese I used on each pizza.

The cheese package label said that 1 serving of grated cheese is 1/3 cup. That serving size has 7 grams of protein, roughly equivalent to the protein of 1 egg or 1 glass of milk. So, I went with that as a portion for each person, on each pizza. We eat 1 large pizza, split 5 ways. I used 1 & 2/3 cup grated cheese on each of the 4 pizzas I made (for future meals). That amount is 5 servings of cheese, so just right for one large pizza for our family. And FYI, it melts down to look like much more cheese than when it is first scattered on the pizza.

The label also says that each 5-lb bag contains about 80 of those 1/3-cup servings. At 1 & 2/3 cup cheese per pizza, I can get 16 large pizzas from each bag. And at $9.98 for each 5-lb bag, the cheese portion for each pizza will cost me 62 cents. Factoring in all the other ingredients, I can make a large cheese pizza for about $1. (My crust and marinara sauce are from scratch.)

You may wonder how we can ever manage on 1 large pizza for our family of 5. To be truthful, we like pizza, but more than what the large will serve us is too much crust for most of our family. I usually serve pizza with a couple of substantial sides, like a pasta, bean and veggie salad, or a green salad with hearty toppings, like cooked garbanzos, homemade croutons and boiled egg slices.

Going forward, I plan on measuring more of my ingredients, the ones that tend to pour out loose, like shaped pasta and grated cheese, to make sure I am using the appropriate amount for the dish I'm preparing. My last big stock-up of cheese was in the fall. and it felt like we plowed through it all rather quickly. I'm hoping to make each bag last a month, which means I won't need more pizza cheese until July.



  1. I don't like lots of cheese on my pizza. I much prefer the sauce. So if I have a choice, I always use (or order) less cheese than most. My family my ask me to start measuring the cheese, so they get more on their pizza. :)

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I understand what you mean. A lot of pizzeria pizza has too much cheese for me, personally. But I guess a lot of folks do like the cheese. In our pizzeria days, I seem to recall that extra cheese was an option.

      Measuring the cheese, and also pasta, recently, seems to be helping me use our supplies more carefully. So, that's a success where it comes to our budget.

  2. I'm more likely to measure cheese for dietary reasons than financial, but in the end it saves both money and calories. Unlike Live and Learn, my kids and I don't care for a lot of sauce (my hubby likes it), so I usually add about 1/2 the amount of sauce. This trick won't work for pizza, but a Weight Watchers trick is to use sharp cheese because it has more flavor, and to use less of it--I typically buy extra sharp cheddar for our "everyday" cheese needs. I keep mozzarella on hand for pizza and lasagna emergencies. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      Pizza and lasagna emergencies! LOL!

      I've done something similar to the Weight Watchers suggestion of using sharp cheddar (and use less). For my dairy issues, I'm really not supposed to eat much cheese, so one thing I've done in the past for pizza is to use Parmesan on my portion. It does have so much flavor that I only need a small amount.

      I do like very saucy pizza, myself. I consider it a serving of vegetables that way. But one time, we were about out of sauce so only put a small amount on, and everyone said it tasted like take-out pizza (which was a good thing in their minds). I also like lots of sauce on pasta, and am not a fan of spaghetti with just a sheer coating of sauce. I guess I like the flavor.

    2. I have reflux, so while I like tomato products, I have to be careful and not eat them too frequently or in too large of quantities--I think that's partly why I shy away from heavy sauce. Good idea for you to use Parmesan in lace of mozzarella.

    3. Kris, do you ever make the white sauce versions of pizza?

    4. No, I've never made them, although I've eaten them a few times at restaurants, and they are tasty. White sauces usually have a higher fat/calorie load, so, as you know from your dietary issues, it's a balancing act on what to choose to eat. Over the past year I've gotten a better handle on what works for me and what doesn't--it was definitely a trial and error period.

  3. I like my pizza easy on the sauce. I like the white pizzas too, which I think, don't have any sauce. I do like more sauce on homemade pizza though if that makes any sense. I put about 2 cups of cheese per pizza and it is more than enough. We love pizza here and have it regularly.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      That does make sense, about more sauce for a homemade pizza. My scratch-made crusts tend to be denser, so more sauce seems to balance that out.

      I've only once had a white sauce pizza. they seem to be quite popular. I think I'm just stuck on what I've always known pizza to be, the marinara sauce kind. And of course, I do love marinara sauce!

  4. Thanks for doing the math for us. My husband is the cook in the family and he makes his own pizza, using the breadmaker for the crust. He's gotten quite proficient with making his own sauce from scratch too. His secret ingredient is adding a little lemon juice to the sauce. We have been portioning out the ingredients from the bulk packages hit or miss, so thanks for enlightening us about portion control. We make 3 medium size pizzas per baking session and eat 4 servings per pizza. So 12 (3x4) servings per baking session = 4c. I've written it down for the next time we have to break bulk.
    I recently found your blog and find it very informative and enlightening. You are very thorough. Anyone who does taxes long hand has the fortitude to figure things out exactly and in detail. I know because before tax software I did all our taxes from 1975 long hand. Whew! Also interesting that you are an art history major (yes I've been enjoying many of your past posts), while I love math and numbers I too love art. I think we have a lot in common, also since we're nearing retirement, we are practicing frugality like a science lol as our "third leg" of retirement since we won't have private pensions.

    1. Hi there,
      Thank you for the kind words!
      I am kind of a nut when it comes to figuring out the cost of things. But as it turns out, this has helped us tremendously with our own financial goals.

      It's nice to meet another art appreciator! Do you have many fine art museums in your area? There are several in the Seattle metro area. I've been to most of them. One is free all the time, and the others have a free admission day once per month, which is just such a fantastic thing to me!

      Best of wishes with your retirement goals. You'll get there!

      As for lemon juice in the pizza sauce, I'll have to try that. I add lemon juice to homemade ketchup and tomato soup, and like the flavor combination, so gotta try it in pizza sauce! Thank you for the tip!

    2. It's been years since I've been to an art museum. I took the kids to art museums when they were little, but on my own I haven't been in one in over 20 years. I enjoy viewing art via the internet and reading blogs by artists and crafts people. I especially enjoy reading interviews of fiber artists (my interest) and reading crochet blogs. I look forward to reading your blog as well since you kick the calculation part of frugality up several notches!!

  5. I'm trying to use cheese more sparingly too, because it's just sooo easy to pile it on! It never occurred to me to measure it though. Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. Hi Cat,
      It is so easy to pile it on!
      When I did these simple calculations, I wanted to do 2 things, make sure we weren't being wasteful, but also making sure we were getting enough protein for a cheese pizza. It's a balance. So at least with measuring, I know exactly what we're getting, without being wasteful.

  6. H Lili,
    Measuring is a great idea to save money. The white sauce is great and not too
    much additional if you sub white beans puree for part of the cream and white cheese also adds some more protein at a fraction of the cost.

    1. Hi Patti,
      that's an excellent idea, the white beans! I'm not supposed to have much dairy, so that would cut way back for me. Thank you for the suggestion!


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