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$9 (Nine Dollar) Dinners - Pizza Hut
Let's revisit the rules again:
- I will be able to use $9 pre-tax so that the total does not exceed $10
- I will not include a drink unless it's part of the meal. Drink water. It's free.
- I will start with restaurants or other eating establishments. Frankly it's too easy to create a $9 dinner at home.
- I will take advantage of regular promos or coupons, but not something rare or limited time. For example, if I can normally get a Tuesday deal at Popeyes for $4.99 then that's okay. But I cannot include a limited time BOGO deal from Domino's in the $9 dinner challenge.
- I will only eat things that I consider delicious. It's my money and I'm not going to throw it away so I have something negative to write.
- The ultimate gauge of this will include how many meals will I get for my $9, and will it have any nutritional value?
What is $9 Dinners?
Here's a recap of the birth of $9 dinners. If you've already read this, please skip ahead:
On the face of it, a $9 dinner is quite a luxury! After all, every now and again you hear about CEOs and famous people taking the SNAP challenge for a week or two. To remind you, the SNAP challenge is when you live on $4.50/day equivalent to what a lower-income SNAP participant has to work with. $4.50/day!! It's incredibly challenging and any time you read what the CEO of Panera or a state senator experience, it's clear that the stress of having not enough money to buy what you want or need to eat is huge and overwhelming.
So back to the question, what is a $9 dinner? My hope as someone who thinks about personal finance a lot is to explore answers that 90% of people can use to get more satisfaction out of life, or to maximize life. For me, when I worked in an office environment, the question of what to eat for lunch came up a lot. While I would brown bag it more often than not, I had a couple of colleagues that would literally debate for 15 or 20 minutes what to eat for lunch that day. And when they came back from lunch, they'd say how disappointing it was, and that they should be able to get more for $10. $10! A whole Alexander Hamilton! I could find a lunch or dinner that's satisfying, tasty, and plentiful for only $9, or so I thought.
So let's craft some rules!
Pizza Hut Pizza
$9 at Pizza Hut
$9 at Pizza Hut
My first thought when it came to maximizing $9 at Pizza Hut was the Dinner Box that's been advertised on TV so much around here. But for anyone who's familiar with the Dinner Box knows, it's actually $10 and not $9! So I'm going to have to think outside the box and see what kind of deals there are.
If you get creative, there are lots of yummy eats at Pizza Hut:
- Pizza including stuffed crust options and the new Cheesy Bites pizza
- Chocolate chip cookie "pizza"
- Breadsticks and cheesesticks
- Salads, including a Big Salad that Elaine Benes would approve of
- Tuscani Chicken Alfredo pasta dish
- Tuscani Meaty Marinara pasta dish
- Wings from Wingstreet in a variety of flavors
That's a good amount of variety and given that most of these are bread-based, they're heavy on carbs and sufficiently filling. I have a good feeling about this $9 dinner.
Pizza Hut Large Pizza
Your Best Bet
So I went back and forth on what is actually the best deal at Pizza Hut. I've enjoyed many big salads and cheesesticks here. The wings are also enticing, but in the end I went with a promo they're offering currently on the Deals page of the website.$7.99 Large 2 Topping Pizza
Now, according to the rules of the challenge, I can't go with a special promo offer, unless it's something that I can regularly get (like a common coupon or deal directly from the merchant). Luckily as a frequent pizza eater i can say that I've gotten this deal several times with coupons so let's get to the fun part.
Taste/Flavor - While I do prefer that my large pizzas at Pizza Hut are stuffed crust, I just can't afford it this time. I'm looking to get full and for tasty food so I'm going classic pan pizza. It's crunchy, chewy, greasy and oh my goodness, so tasty! Two toppings give you some flexibility so that you can turn to this deal once a month or so without getting sick of pizza in general. When I do the pick up I'll ask for a cup of marinara which I usually get for free because I practically live at this franchise location.
Health - Eh, let's face it. It's a lot of cheese, a ton of bread, some high sodium pizza sauce and the only redeeming quality is when you get fresh vegetables as your toppings. But health-wise it's like eating carrot cake and feeling good about the nutrition values. Don't eat this too often or your pants are going to start getting tight.
Filling - I do declare that pan pizza sure is filling! I'm a pizza monster and i can still make 2 meals out of the large pizza (and i bet most people can get a 3rd meal out of this). If you're serious about getting full then top this guy with some extra cheese and a protein like grilled chicken or italian sausage. Ohh, that just made my heart flutter with joy~
I Love Pizza
Value for $9
Okay, let's do some math. My goal was to find delicious meals that are less than $9. Ideally I can get more than 1 meal for $9 because then I'm getting more bang for the buck. So, based on that, how does Pizza Hut rate out?
$7.99 for a large pizza with 2 toppings
2.5 meals worth for $7.99
That means I'm getting 2.82 meals for my $9 and more than 1 meal per day based on the $4.50/day for SNAP. This just edges out Panda Express and is truly a filling good option. While it falls short on the health side of things, let's face it, it's freakin' delicious and it's a worthy $9 dinner.
Pizza Hut Large Pizza
I believe that being frugal and making smart money choices is like any other exercise. As we continue to practice good habits in saving money where possible, finding deals for what we want, and having a good time at it, then we become better at dealing for a living.
I'm committed to sharing my experiences with getting the most out of using credit cards, saving and spending tips, and I might even add a slice of perspective without trying to be a psychoanalyst like some other personal finance folks out there.
Please let me know what you think and if you'd like to hear my take on a specific topic.
PS. I've also started writing on my own site: dealforaliving.com.