Cheap Eats at Bloglander

3/13/06 | Ghetto Pizza

[ Currently Eating: Plain Bagel ]

Pizza made out of white bread

Warning – extremely Cheap Eats up ahead. You may want to look away if you’re adverse to main meal recipes with only three ingredients.

If you were ever a hungry latch-key kid coming home from school, chances are you’ve made an afternoon snack like this before. I call it Ghetto Pizza, although maybe it should be called “Starving College Kid Pizza”. I happen to think this is quite good for lunchtime meals as well (as long as you eat other stuff with it, veggies would be nice!).

I actually wasn’t a latch-key kid until high school, but I still found occasion to make these every so often. The recipe is stupidly simple, has endless modifications, generally tastes “good” and can be fairly cheap as long as you don’t go putting any gourmet toppings on top.

We haven’t had a recipe on Cheap Eats in awhile, and I know that this doesn’t really count, but hey it’s cheap isn’t it? Here are the basics:

Ghetto Pizza

2 tbsp spaghetti sauce from a 26 oz. $2 jar — $0.07
1 slice of white bread — $0.10
1 slice cheese (mozzarella, swiss, etc.) — $0.15

optional pepper, dried oregano — negligible

Total: $0.32

If you can’t figure out how to make this, then I don’t know what to say. Put the sauce on the bread and cover with the cheese. Optional dried oregano and pepper on top. Put it in the toaster oven and toast it until the cheese is bubbly. That’s it.

You probably want to make a couple of these to fill you up. You couch potato guys, I’m talking to you…

Although this is pretty dumb and lame-easy to make, here are a few tips to making your Ghetto Pizza experience truly worthwhile.

Varying the type of bread can do wonders. I particularly like to use English Muffins as the base, because they are round like a mini-pizza, they have nooks and crannies where sauce can get into and because they have that extra crunch that normal toast doesn’t have. Another favorite is the Ghetto Pizza Bagels.

Pizza made out of English Muffin

By the way, I know they have all these “mini-pizza” things you can buy in the frozen food section. I try and avoid those, because these are so easy to make.

If you’re REALLY hard up for sauce, well you can try using Ketchup. I can’t particularly stand Ketchup Ghetto Pizza though, there is just too strong of a taste to the sauce. I’ve tried mixing tomato sauce, tomato paste, and some herbs but it’s rather bland. The best sauce (other than making your own for cheaper) is the ready-made kind in a jar, about 26 ounces for $2 is the going rate. Probably cheaper on sale, and if generic.

The good thing is that you can store the jar in the fridge for a long time, and then just take a few scoops out for Ghetto Pizza as you need it. I like to get the sauces that have stuff in them, like Garlic and Mushrooms… that one works pretty well.

The cheese is probably the most expensive part of this equation. But you can easily get away with American Cheese on top, or even canned grated parm cheese. In the photos here, I had procurred a load of Swiss Cheese from the inlaws so that’s what I used. Mozzarella is of course the favored one, but I actually find it tends to pull off the bread easily since it’s so stretchy.

I find it tastes better to sprinkle some dried herbs and pepper on top. Use your imagination for other toppings… whatever you have leftover in the fridge will do.

A tip for putting this in the toaster. You may want to cover the grille with aluminum foil before making these, especially if the cheese is larger than the bread. Burnt cheese on the bottom of the toaster is kinda bad. Also, I like to use the “oven” setting because I find I need a longer toasting period on my crappy toaster to get the cheese nicely melted. Just don’t forget about it in the toaster or you’ll have a nice burnt mess.

For me Ghetto Pizza ranks right up there with the best Cheap Eats for people living at home… it is extremely cheap, uses readily available ingredients, can be used as hors d’oeuvres in a pinch, and doesn’t get boring if you vary the toppings. Why not make a few today in your toaster today? End Ghetto Pizza Commercial here…

Price: $0.32
Cheap Eats Score: 9/10

40 Responses to “Ghetto Pizza”

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  1. cybele Says:

    Excellent post.

    Sometimes the easiest (and cheapest) stuff is the best!

    It even works with stale bread or leftover garlic bread. The sauce can reinvigorate even the driest bread. (I learned how to make a lot of things with ketchup as a base when I was a latchkey high school student… something I called hamburger bash springs to mind.)

  2. Reid Says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who has done this. For just about every day during middle school I would come home and make one of these out of an English muffin, salsa, and a Kraft cheese single, then microwaved. Looking back I don’t know how I ever gagged it down, though I thought I was such a great chef at the time.

  3. Robyn Says:

    I used to eat pizza bagels for breakfast during the summer before going to camp. Mmm…really yummy use of a bagel…or a pizza abomination…YUMMY!

  4. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    cybele – hamburger bash??? you will have to explain this please … =)

    reid – hey, salsa… I never tried it with salsa as the sauce. I’ve got some more english muffins left [runs to kitchen]…

    robyn – i had picked up a bag of noahs bagels at costco the other day… so I’ve been alternating pizza bagel, pizza english muffin, and pizza sandwich bread. And I still have a half jar of spaghetti sauce left!

  5. cybele Says:

    Hamburger bash was either browned hamburger or actual leftover hamburger patties shredded up and mixed with whatever was on hand. It could be leftover pasta with tomoto sauce, ketchup and horseradish, or maybe a can of stewed tomatoes and kidney beans and sometimes I’d throw in some frozen vegetables like green beans or corn. I know it sounds disgusting, but when I came home from swim practice I was usually famished and really not very discriminating.

    My mother made a “real” version of hamburger hash that was pretty good, kind of like a rattouille with hamburger in it and she usually threw some shredded cheese on the top of the bowl before serving.

    Of course it all depended on what finances were like at the time.

  6. Marvo Says:

    I used to make ghetto pizza with French bread sandwich rolls, canned spaghetti sauce, whatever cheese was in the fridge, and whatever meat was around (ie bacon, Portuguese sausage)

    Good times. Good times.

  7. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    cybele – that actually doesn’t sound bad, like a homemade hamburger helper then… or a sloppy joe mix. But it actually sounds more healthy, if you threw in the veggies.

    marvo – portagee sausage.. i remember having that for breakfast quite a bit on the weekends. Yeah, i used to use french sandwich rolls or ghetto pizza too.

  8. william Says:

    We used to do these like an open face grilled cheese utterly slathering the bread with butter before tossing it in the skillet. English muffins are great as well though I really like them good and crunchy for pizza muffins. It’s been a loooong time since I’ve had one of those. I really need to introduce my nephews to these.

  9. Aaron Says:

    We used to have the english muffins “ghetto pizza” all the time when I was a kid. It was a staple for luch on the weekends. If you toast the english muffins first I thoght they were a littlte crunchier and I liked them better like that. Making them out of leftover garlic bread is a great idea too!

  10. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    william – butter! whoah…

    aaron – oh yeah, I forgot to mention you can toast in two steps… keeps the sauce from making the bread too soggy.

  11. Jude Says:

    I love little pizzas made on english muffins. Now that I know I can call them ghetto pizza’s I love them even more. Usually eat them the day after I eat anything that uses sauce from a jar.
    I toast the muffins, spread just a little sauce, then some cheese, then some more sauce (all the sauce on the bottom tends to make it soggy) then microwave just enough to melt the cheese.

    If you have peanut sauce, salad shrimp, and shredded carrots, you can make thai shrimp ghetto pizzas. mmm

  12. Amy Says:

    Wow, I didn’t know there was an actual term for what I was doing every night after class. Ghetto pizza… I like. You know I actually took a little bit of shredded/cut up chicken, mixed that in with some salsa, microwaved, and then added crushed up wheat thins for some crunch. Surprisingly pretty good. I’ve got plenty more where that came from…

  13. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    jude – the shrimp ghetto one sounds sort of like a CPK menu pizza…

    amy – i didnt know what to call them, so that’s the name they got =)

  14. bingsy Says:

    Remember the good old days when biscuits from those can type thingies – the things that explode when you tug on the paper – only cost $.25.

    I would buy those and use the same essential ingredients you did to make mini pizzas. I added jalapenos, but that’s only because I was new to the Sam’s Club concept and purchased a huge huge jar of jalapenos on my very first trip. I ate jalapenos with everything for a year and still only made a dent in the thing.

    I don’t make this anymore because my fiance is completely averse to the idea. I would complain, but when I really think about it – it’s pretty horrible food. I just ate it because it was easy and cheap.

  15. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    bingsy – funny about the jalapenos… my mom gave me a 1/4 jar of one from price club. That was about a year ago… I am still working my way through it!

  16. Sylko Says:

    Thanks for posting this. I forgot about ghetto pizza! I have a daughter who is very picky, but loves pizza, so I tried her on this for lunch on Sunday, and she said “Hey, I like this!” and gobbled it (I used some sandwich rolls I had in the freezer and mozzerella, which we always have on hand, and jarred sauce)

  17. Sandra Says:

    This site brings back waves of nostalgia. I remeber those days of finding stuff around the house and trying to see what I could make. Your lucky though you had all of that… I used to make this bread “meal” with bread, grated parmesan cheese, and mayo. Toast the bread, put mayo on toast, drench it in the cheese, put in microwave for about 30-45 seconds, let it stand for about a minute so it’ll get nice and crunchy and then you have an instant meal!

  18. ChrisN Says:

    I like using pita bread the best for making ghetto pizza.

  19. Red Chapel Says:

    Heck, when I was a little kid home with Mom, these were TREATS for lunch. She’d make them with white bread — English muffins when we had them — a little homemade sauce, cheese, and a piece of soft-cooked bacon on top. Since that was before microwaves, she cooked them in the broiler. Fine eating!

  20. Courtney Says:

    My brother and I used to make these on tortillas. We’d chop up a little bit of whatever veggies we liked, add sauce and cheese then broil them in the oven for 2-3 minutes.

    I still make them (now with whole wheat tortillas) for snacks after work. Good use for bits of onion and peppers or shredded carrots. Mmmmm!

  21. Dirtbag Says:

    That is actually my food of choice for Sunday hangovers! I love making that stuff! And with English muffins, although I do put in a bit of garlic puree also. The two step process is very important too. I toast the muffin fully on the bottom side first, then partly on the top part (the fluffy bit), then throw on the garlic puree, sauce, cheese (I like Cave Aged Gruy√®re – smells awful but tastes delicious), the oregano or mixted italian herbs, then whack it under the grill until it’s all lovely and bubbly. Take care to make sure the cheese is all the way to the edge otherwise you’ll have burnt bread at the edges. Sit down in front of the TV watching Antiques Road Show (BBC – UK), devour said food, and wash down with a big mug of tea. Ahhhhh, hangover gone.

  22. Amy Says:

    I don’t buy jarred sauce any more, because the cans of pasta sauce are only $1.29 (or less on sale). Storage could present a problem, since there is no lid to screw back on, but you could always put the sauce in plastic lidded containers. (That’s why I love saving empty, washed yogurt cartons, you can put smaller portions in them and freeze, then defrost as needed.)

    I haven’t had ghetto pizza in forever, though I loved them as a kid (and of course, didn’t call them ghetto pizza). I definitely see these coming out this next weekend when I don’t feel like cooking a real meal.

  23. Zeroes Says:

    Excellent!! i used to make these as a kid after school almost everyday, the bagel variety became a fast favorite! I often added pepperoni and sometimes other previously cooked left overs to the mix coming up with the best “ghetto pizza” i could fathom! greatness indeed

  24. Rudy Walker Says:

    you should give yhe meals one by one

  25. Laurine Says:

    those are delicious! theyre fun to make, you can put anything on them, and best of all they’re cheap! had them before at a friends bonfire party but didnt think to make them myself.

  26. jpatti Says:

    I do an expensive version. Put a low-carb tortilla in a cast-iron skillet, top with sauce, garlic powder, shredded mozzarella, pepperoni and parmesan and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. It comes out like a very thin-crust pizza.

  27. Lynette Says:

    My kids use to use soda crackers with pizza sauce and cheese. Micro till cheese melts. Wasn’t to bad. They loved them.

  28. sammy Says:

    I like using olive oil on the bread instead of the sauce.

    Olive oil
    Garlic Powder
    Parm cheese
    Oregano, Dried Basil

    gourmet ghetto white pizza, gotta love it

  29. Kevin Kennedy-Spaien Says:

    You know the ghetto english muffin pizza is both ghetto-ier and tastier with STALE english muffins.

    Wonderbread clearance outlet, anyone?

  30. caspervelle Says:

    ive alyays liked my welfare pizza with the block cheese youd get never kraft id rather eat hood block cheese than kraft singles anyday i dont even think they real cheese.gotta use the bagel a pasta sauce or tomato paste with oregano and basil. and good ol genoa salami the ones with the the im hung

  31. gardengirl Says:

    Oh, my mom used to make these! She used whatever was on hand for toppings – sliced tomatoes, peppers, onions … YUM! I still make them and I have kiddos now. I like them because I actually get the pizza I want, not the family consensus (cheese or pepperoni – blech!). Pass the hamburger and pineapple please! Oh, and here in the Midwest, Carnation makes Pizza Squeeze – pizza sauce in a squeeze bottle like ketchup. Very handy! About $1.50 for an 18 oz bottle or so.

  32. golfwidow Says:

    If you don’t have a toaster, make a closed sandwich (two slices, sauce on both sides, and cheese, butter the outside surfaces (optional), wrap it in foil, and iron the package till it smells good, about ninety seconds per side. I guess you have to factor in the cost of the foil and the optional butter for that one.

  33. stace Says:

    ha ha block cheese, I used to love that stuff when I was a kid. I have a scar on my thumb to prove it from trying to hack of slices of it myself when I was 6 and 7! I used to eat ketchup sandwitches when that ran out. Yech. I would eat that government cheese ( as I call it) now though. I think. Lol.

    Gonna have to try this ghetto pizza on a bagel.

  34. Loretta Says:

    My kids love this for lunch or a snack. We usually save some leftover spaghetti sauce just for this purpose on spaghetti nights! LOL

    If you happen to have any garlic bread left it’s really good on that too.

  35. Ten Says:

    If you want a lower calorie/more healthful version, just put it on a whole wheat tortilla. Still tasty!

  36. Pam Says:

    Oh my gosh *lol* my Dad was making this pizza on English Muffins when we were kids, in the late 1960′s..

    We actually lived in a part of town which was 5 minutes up town from a genuine projects in Northern N.J. (We were in the suburb part of a city which had somewhat of a dicey reputation, in some places)

    How funny this name now is to me..

    I had no idea it would have such rich meaning…

    p.s. THANKS SO much for your money saving ideas for families with $$$$$ concerns in our nation’s current part two of the great Depression..*coughs* uhm, I mean, errrr….Recession (yea, that was last week..)


    God bless America..&every1els..

  37. Don Xiong Says:

    Another version me and my brothers like and a little bit healthiers is use flat bread and actually make a pizza sauce… put the sauce on top… then put a slice or as many as you want of pepperoni and use bits of cottage cheeze ontop… toast and enjoy… cottage cheese melts at a higher heat so don’t be surprised is it isn’t gewy lol

  38. Norman Says:

    Ghetto is sweet! What I used to do as a kid was to add sliced hot dogs as well – my poor version of pepperoni. Yay for random animal parts!

  39. Indigo Says:

    The fact you called this ‘ghetto pizza’ makes me far too happy. I can see this is going to feature a lot when I go to uni in October ^__^

    I love the idea in the comments about ironing a closed sandwich in foil to make a toastie, too! That is too much win

  40. Jayme Says:

    LMAO, My sister and I used to make that ghetto pizza ALL the time. Though it usually wound up having american cheese on it cus we were always out of something…lol



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