How to Save Money Every Time You Order Pizza

Ordering the right-sized pizza is always a challenge.

With the phone in my hand, about to press the green button to call my favorite delivery chain, I freeze.

How hungry am I, really? Will I eat the leftovers? Do I need the leftovers? (The answer is almost always ‘yes.’)

Or I’m at a restaurant, spastically throwing my hands around making a pizza shape as I ask the server just how big the 16-inch pie is.

Still, I always feel like I’m taking a blind guess.

But I don’t need to worry anymore — and neither do you — because NPR’s Planet Money did the math: To get the most pizza for your money, always order the biggest size.

How to Save Money on Pizza

Don’t worry about breaking out the protractor or trying to remember pi (only the pizza kind of pie) — the team at Planet Money did that part for us. Here’s what they found:

Although the 16-inch pizza might not look much bigger than the 8-incher, when you do the math, you’re getting a heck of a lot more pizza for each cent you spend.

Think back to your high school geometry class.

A circle’s area increases with its square radius. Remember the pesky πr2 formula? So a 16-inch pizza is actually four times the size of an 8-inch pizza.

That’s four times the amount of melty cheese and delicious Canadian bacon (or greasy pepperoni, if that’s your thing).

And buying the smaller size will cost you, found writer Quoctrung Bui, who analyzed 74,476 prices from 3,678 pizza restaurants nationwide.

“To get the same amount of pizza you get in a 16-inch pizza, you’d have to spend an extra $2.35 on 14-inch pizzas, or an extra $16.41 on 8-inch pizzas,” he concludes. Here’s what you’d spend on each size to get the same amount of pizza:

Pizza deal

Who’s willing to spend an extra $16 on the same amount of pizza?!

So the answer to my weekly dilemma is pretty clear: Always order the bigger pizza, and welcome the leftovers with open arms.

Save Even More on Your Next Pizza Order

If you’re looking to strike more deals on your large pizza, try deal-stacking.

Look for coupons and promo codes, and keep an eye out for special promotions like this one.

Another option? Use a cash-back credit card (but only responsibly). Some even offer extra cash back for spending money at restaurants.

Or stake out every store that sells Pepsi and search for the pizza emoji.

Finally, you’ll want to put a note on your calendar for February 9. It’s National Pizza Day (of course it’s a holiday), which will guarantee us gobs of coupons and deals — and extra cheese, please.

Your Turn: What size pizza do you order? Have you ever done the math?

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing grad school, she focuses her time and energy on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.