I got into pizza making primarily for two reasons:
1. My favorite local pizzeria, over the last decade or so, started cutting corners (lower temp, lower hydration, increased thickness factor, teenage help).
2. I got tired of spending $12+ a pie.
Although it seems like every day I spend a little more money on raw materials, the frugality still plays a large part of the experience.
It takes a lot more effort, but I can produce a similar quality pie from $.15/lb private label supermarket flour (on sale) that I get from $.32/lb bromated All Trumps. I can also almost always find some brand of mozzarella on sale for $1.99, and, if I'm very carefully to choose rigid/non squishy packages and use it quickly, the results are top notch.
But, tomatoes... yeesh. I'm having a really hard time finding an economical tomato. Out of all the supermarket brand purees (I've tried all the <$2 ones), the only one I'll go near is Cento. Everything else tastes like reconstituted paste (which it is). I can get cento on sale for as little as .99 a 28 oz. can. That can of cento is thick enough to be able to add a few oz. of water to- enough to be able to just squeeze 4 17" pies out of. With longer and longer cold ferments, my yeast cost per pie is negligible. And I grow my own basil.
I really like the idea of a $1.50 pizza (about where I'm at now). I've purchased the Cento San Marzano's and a local brand (Corrado's). Both say they're packed in 'puree.' Yeah, right
If I food mill the tomatoes and add the 'puree,' the sauce I end up with is too watery for pizza. If I leave enough of the juice out, I only end up with enough sauce for 2 pies. I don't really mind the food milling too much, but at $2.50 for a 28 oz. can (Corrado's), I'm almost doubling the cost of my raw materials.
I have to admit, I like the taste of the SMs. Quite a bit. Even watery, they're still pretty flavorful/fresh tasting. But that $1.25 per pie bump... I'm telling you, it's keeping me awake at night