It's hard to beat the combination of pizza and football, particularly with the college bowls cranking up and the NFL playoffs just weeks away.

Now, you can order out -- often for a premium price -- or you can hit the supermarket and pick up a frozen pie. But, can frozen pizza truly satisfy?

Frozen versus pizzeria

After buying and baking more than 100 cheese pies, Consumer Reports found that, yes -- frozen pizza can satisfy. Amy's Cornmeal Crust 3 Cheese, Home Run Inn Classic and DiGiorno Rising Crust Four Cheese all garnered a CR Best Buy -- leading the ratings.

The best frozen pizzas, a trio of very different but very good pies, included the artisanal Amy's Cornmeal Crust 3 Cheese, the priciest pie tested at $7.99. Amy's won points for its combination of fresh-tasting vegetables, herbs, and dollops of goat cheese over a flavorful cornmeal crust.

The Chicago-style Home Run Inn Classic Cheese, $7.42, features a generous blanket of tasty cheese and abundant sauce over a pastry-style crust. The Italian-style DiGiorno Rising Crust Four Cheese, $6.47, has lots of cheese and sauce over a thick, chewy crust.

Could be better

But Consumer Reports found room for improvement, since no pies were excellent. Shoppers shouldn't buy by brand, CR says, noting that its Best Buy DiGiorno pie scored higher than the other DiGiorno pies tested. The same was true of the Red Baron pizzas tested.

"Frozen pizzas are convenient and more cost effective than a pizzeria and according to our tests, they can also offer quality," said a Consumer Reports expert.  "Shoppers should take into account more than just price when purchasing, ingredients and nutritional components factor into the overall experience."

Testing the pies

In Consumer Reports' frozen pizza taste test, cheese pies were the focus.  They are one of the most popular types, according to the National Frozen Pizza Institute, a trade organization. Seven trained CR sensory panelists tasted each brand three times in an order designed to eliminate bias. They didn't know which pizza they tasted and all samples were coded with three-digit numbers. Testers graded crust, cheese, and sauce separately then also gave an overall impression of each pie.

The frozen pizzas were also rated based on nutrition. All brands scored adequately, but Consumer Reports discovered quite a range in calories (260 to 380), fat (9 to 18 grams), saturated fat (3.5 to 9 grams), and sodium (570 to 870 milligrams) per serving.

Top-rated Amy's stood out as the lowest in saturated fat and among the lowest in sodium, while Red Baron Fire Baked scored Fair because it was among the highest in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. Consumer Reports ratings are based on manufacturer's suggested serving size.