Many of my childhood food memories revolve around good ol’ pizza. From Friday “movie and pajamas” night that consisted of a delivery pizza from the Pizza Hut down the street to the Wednesday school lunch special that made hump day go by extra fast, pizza has been, and continues to be, a staple in my life.
These days, pizza no longer comes from a chain delivery restaurant or a school cafeteria. Oh no, we’ve tasted the better side of pizza, where the toppings are greener and everything underneath those toppings is completely real or homemade.
Homemade pizza is incredibly easy to make at home. And while pizza may be easy to make, there are times when making sauce, cutting up toppings, or making dough is just too much for a tired mom to handle. That, my friend, is when prepping pizza in advance comes in handy.
Making pizza in advance isn’t something I do every week, or even every month. Making homemade pizza in advance is a great real food skill to learn so that life can be easier when needed.
Why You Should Make Homemade Pizza in Advance
1. Easy Lunch or Snack Food:
Growing up I loved the bagel pizza bites sold in the freezer section of the store. Yes, it’s horrifying to think about the ingredients, but I didn’t know any better at the time. Today, kids are still surrounded by this kind of “food,” whether the influence comes from the school cafeteria and friends or an advertiser. Why not offer kids a tastier and healthier alternative via personal size frozen pizzas ready to cook at home? The kids can even help prep the pizzas in advance. Win-win!
2. A Dinner Backup:
Despite my meal planning there are times when I just can’t bring myself to making the dinner planned due to an extra busy day, unexpected events that day, etc. In these times, it’s nice to have a quick homemade option available. This can take on the form of meatballs in the freezer, lunchmeat and tortillas for quesadillas, scrambled eggs (no prep time and very inexpensive), or even a homemade freezer pizza. Think of these foods as “emergency backup.”
3. Just Say No to Pizza Hut:
I’m pretty sure we can all agree on this one statement: Delivery and frozen pizzas are not real food. Yes, maybe commercial pizza is getting better in terms of ingredients, but for the most part pizza options still have a long way to go.
We’ve been able to find a few pizza places in our area serving amazing homemade pizza, but regular visits can be quite expensive. It’s an amazing feeling to know that a homemade option is easy to make in advance and even better than carry-out. Homemade for the win!
How to Make Homemade Pizza in Advance
Make the pizza dough.
Here’s my basic recipe: 1 cup room temperature water, 2 teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 cups whole white wheat flour (I use all-purpose einkorn flour these days), 2 tablespoons olive oil.
In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the room temperature water. After about 5 minutes, the yeast will begin to foam. Stir in the salt. Using the dough hook on your stand mixer (you can also mix the dough by hand), gradually add one cup of flour at at time. Mix the flour and yeast mixture together. Knead the dough with the bread hook or by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding 1 teaspoon of water at a time, if needed. You may not need all 3 cups of flour. Coat the dough with olive oil (2 tablespoons). Cover the bowl with a towel. Let the dough rest on the counter for 30minutes-1 hour, until doubled in size. Note: If you’re using einkorn, add all the flour at one time and only knead for about 40-60 seconds. Einkorn doesn’t like to be kneaded and fussed with.
Now it’s time to roll out the dough and par-bake. Par-baking simply means partially baking the pizza crust before adding the toppings. By par-baking you’ll ensure homemade frozen pizzas are crispy, not soggy.
Preheat the oven to 425F.
After the pizza dough has risen, roll the dough out on parchment paper or a silicone mat. You may need to dust the mat/paper with flour to prevent sticking. With my dough recipe I can make two medium-size pizzas, one large rectangular pizza, or 7-9 personal size pizzas. When making pizza in advance, I like to make personal size pizzas since they take up less space in the freezer.
Pizza Size Note: The pizza(s) will need to fit in your freezer bag or container when you get to step four.
Place the pizza(s) on a cookie sheet/baking stone and par-bake for about 5-7 minutes. This is not a time to walk away and clean dishes or wash clothes, carefully watch the pizza. When the crust is ready to be removed from the oven, the pizza(s) should poof a bit on top and look dry. The time will vary with the size of your pizza(s). Once ready, remove the pizza(s) from the oven and let cool.
Now it’s time to add toppings.
When making homemade frozen pizza, I want to work quickly so I usually don’t make a special pizza sauce. Instead, I open a jar of Jovial crushed tomatoes, add some dried herbs according to taste (basil, oregano, garlic powder, and salt), and stir.
Top the pizza(s) with sauce (or pesto is a delicious alternative), shredded mozzarella cheese, and toppings (peppers, onions, firm mushrooms, and pepperoni freeze well). Add greens, if desired, later when baking the pizzas.
Finally, it’s time to freeze the pizza(s) for later enjoyment.
First, place the pizza(s) on a baking sheet and freeze for 1-3 hours, depending on the size, until the sauce and toppings are frozen. Once frozen, wrap the pizzas with parchment paper and secure the paper with a rubberband (you could also use plastic wrap or foil–I avoid using plastic wrap at home, so I stick with parchment paper). Slide the parchment-wrapped pizza(s) into a freezer safe bag or large container, and freeze for later use.
Homemade frozen pizza will keep in the freezer for 3 months. You can also keep par-baked pizza in the fridge for a couple of days for short-term use.
When you’re ready to enjoy a pizza, simply preheat the oven to 475F. Unwrap the pizza(s) and cook until the cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
This isn’t a prep day activity that’s regularly included on my prep list, but I think it’s an important prep day option/skill to learn. My weekly prep activities are constantly changing based on what I’m planning to make that week, my family’s requests, and our schedule. If pizza is in high demand and our schedule is busy all week, prepping a bunch of personal size pizzas is a great way to spend my prep time.
This week, your homework is to create a meal plan, go shopping for the food you’ll need to implement the meal plan, set aside a specific day/time for prep time, and then print and fill out the Prep Day Action Plan printable. Focus on five foods you can prep this week based on your meal plan and schedule: making soup or broth, cooking and shredding chicken, washing storing greens,prepping muffins/biscuits/pancakes, making eggs, marinating meat, or blending smoothies, etc.
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