Pizza: Homemade vs takeout, which is cheaper?
Pizza is one of the easiest meals to make at home. It's also among the cheapest takeaway options. Which approach provides better value?
"Two-for-one" deals and "Pizzas from $3.99" are just some of the incredibly competitive offers being made by takeaway pizza joints lately.
Whether you prefer a simple margherita or a triple-meat feast smothered in barbecue sauce, pizza is one of the cheapest options when you're looking for a quick and easy Friday night food fix.
But are those deals really worth it? Or would you be better off preparing your own pizza at home?
This Friday night in homes around Aotearoa, friends, flatmates and families will be looking for something simple to eat. With a few simple ingredients, pizza can be an incredibly quick meal to prepare that's also fun and adaptable.
But as the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation continue to bite, how much will those ingredients set you back? Are you better off buying takeaways – or even the frozen, ready-made supermarket variety of pizza?
Consumer NZ decided to try and find out. For six weeks, we're choosing a people-pleasing meal for four, then surveying our four big supermarkets to see how much it will set you back to cook that meal for four people.
Then we're comparing those prices to takeaway options.
Now we're turning our Friday night fake-away survey on ... pizza with all the toppings.
To make your pizza
How flash do you want to get? Sure, you can knead your own pizza dough, simmer your own sauce on the stove, then get an outdoor pizza oven fired up. That's probably how they do it at the best pizza joints around town.
For this survey, we're going for ease and simplicity – after all, it's a Friday night. Who has time to watch dough rise? That means we've surveyed store-bought bases and sauces, with toppings that take minimal preparation.
We chose Giannis pizza bases as they come in four packs and you can buy them in most supermarkets. (If you're after gluten-free bases, they're also readily available but often cost more.) We also chose Leggo's Garlic, Onion and Herbs Pizza Paste and Mainland mozzarella, which comes in pre-grated bags, for the same reasons.
For toppings, we wanted options. That means we put ham, pineapple, capsicum, smoked chicken, pepperoni, mushrooms and basil into our baskets.
How much did it cost? Let's find out.
Which supermarket was the cheapest?
Once again, our survey shows that it pays to shop around. You could save more than $2 just by buying your cheese from Pak’nSave ($8.35) rather than New World ($10.49). You could save almost the same amount on whole fresh pineapples, which cost $3.50 at Countdown, but $5.49 at Supie.
If you want meaty pizza toppings, that's when things got pricey. Free-range ham ranged between $6 and $7.20, smoked chicken $7.80 and $13.50, and pepperoni $4.29 and $8.59. If you're after a vegetarian pizza, with capsicums and mushrooms, you'll save plenty of money on this meal.
In previous surveys, Countdown and New World have traded places as the most expensive supermarkets. It was a shock, then, for this survey to find Pak’nSave was – for the first time – the most expensive supermarket to buy all those ingredients.
Our shop at Pak’nSave came in at $63.57, due in large part to the smoked chicken and pepperoni costing more than everywhere else. New World was second at $62.30, and Countdown third at $61.74. Supie was the cheapest at $55.47, although it didn't have any ham or pepperoni available on the day we looked (they’re included in our total price though).
How does that compare to takeaways and heat-and-eat pizzas?
You don't have to look far to find cheap pizza. On the day Consumer did this survey, Dominos, among the most well-known and cheapest pizza joints around, was celebrating World Pepperoni Day (Consumer checked and yes, that is a thing).
That meant large Pepperoni pizzas were on special for $4, down from $6.79. Four of those will set you back the low, low price of $16. If you have vegetarians in the house, a Veg Trio pizza is $6.49 ($25.96 for four). Cheesy crusts cost more.
At Pizza Hut, a loaded Pepperoni pizza with double toppings cost $15.99 each ($67.96 for four), and a Veggie Lovers pizza was $1 more at $16.99, with a pan base.
And at Hell Pizza, a “double”-sized Envy pizza – with salami, ham, onions, mushroom, pineapple and bacon – costs $22.50; the same price as a vegetarian Pride pizza, with mushrooms, capsicum, tomatoes, pineapple, onions and black pepper. Four of those will set you back $90.
Most neighbourhoods have a wood-fired pizza joint nearby. At my local, Francesca’s Pizzeria, a large Alla Toto with salami and mushrooms costs $22.50; the same price as a Primavera with artichokes, eggplant and rocket. That’s $90 for four as well.
Most supermarkets also stock frozen pizzas that just need to be baked in the oven. Countdown offers a Woolworths-branded pepperoni pizza for $5.80, New World has a McCains’ pepperoni pizza for $8.49, Pak n Save has a Pam’s pepperoni and capsicum pizza for $5.80 each, and Supie offers a Mommas meatlovers pizzas for $7 each.
At its cheapest, all those ingredients will set you back $55 at Supie. But at Dominos, if you bought four large pepperoni pizzas on World Pepperoni Day, you would have saved yourself nearly $40 to feed four people, rather than buying all the ingredients yourself.
But you'd miss out on the satisfaction of tailor-making pizzas yourself, twirling the bases in the air before loading them up, getting the kids into the kitchen to help out, and then eating them fresh out of the oven.
Next up: pad thai.
(Prices were accurate as of week beginning September 18.)