THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Buy or DIY?

By M.E. Malone
Globe Correspondent / October 7, 2009

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Semi-prepared foods cost more than something you cut up yourself, but they save time. Are they worth the extra price? Here are three meals with comparisons.

BEEF & VEGGIE STIR-FRY

Servings: 4

Semi-prepared

Buy sliced, marinated meat; cut-up veggies; bottled stir-fry sauce; cooked rice.

Time: 20 minutes

Cost: $16

Take out

Cost: $22

From scratch

With an organized list, you can shop in 10 minutes, prep for 10, cook for 10 (rice cooks in 20 minutes).

Time: 30 minutes

Cost: $14

CHICKEN CAESAR

Servings: 4

Semi-prepared

Buy bags of Caesar salad ingredients, including croutons, dressing, and cheese; cooked chicken is available at the deli counter.

Time: 15 minutes

Cost: $18

Take-out

Cost (at Panera): about $22.

From scratch

Time: 40 minutes

Cost: $15

PIZZA

Servings: 4

Semi-prepared

At Stop & Shop, you can purchase the makings for two 12-inch pepperoni pizzas, packaged together ($9.99). Make it healthier by adding a few trimmed and washed broccoli florets.

Time: 15 minutes

Cost: $5 (one pie)

Take-out

Time: 15 to 20 minutes (waiting for Domino’s delivery)

Cost: about $14, including delivery and tip, for a pepperoni pie.

From scratch

Cost: $5.25

Time: all afternoon