Why you should never use store-bought pasta sauce – and how to make your own

Ready-made pasta is convenient but you have no control over what you're putting into your body.
Ready-made pasta is convenient but you have no control over what you're putting into your body.

Here’s the thing, using store-bought pasta sauce is so convenient. You can literally have dinner sorted in minutes, considering you can heat the sauce in the microwave and pour it straight over your pasta.

The harsh truth? You have no idea what you’re putting in your body. It also doesn’t taste like a really flavoursome home-made sauce, no matter how much you try to spruce it up. You don’t have to be Jamie Oliver to be able to pick out when someone has used a jar of store-bought pasta sauce.

Read more: Study finds that pasta can actually help you lose weight, not gain it.

These sauces are packed full of fat, salt and sugar. Couple that with the fact that there’s not much fibre in store-bought sauces. You’re also not going to get the nutrition you would from a home-made meal.

Long story short, your convenience is costing you your health. That’s why it’s always better to make your own sauce. You’ll eat a much healthier meal, you won’t add all the salt, sugar and fat, and you know exactly what you’re eating.

A lot of recipes call for you to use canned tomatoes when you’re making your own pasta sauce. Here’s the thing, they come with their own issues. Most people know that BPA isn’t good for you. A study by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention found that there were the traces of BPA in the urine of nearly every single one of the 2 517 participants.

But why does this matter? Well, BPA is used to coat the linings of cans and most plastic products, i.e. that can that houses your tomatoes. Exposure to BPA can disrupt your hormones, increase your risk of certain cancers and cause sperm defects, amongst other things.

Read more: 5 ways you can make your sperm stronger right now

Canned tomatoes are especially bad because their acidity is so high that it draws out the BPA straight into the tomatoes. Oh, and one other thing: On average you’re getting around 4.4g of sugar per 100g. The recipe below calls for 800g of tomato which means if you were using canned tomatoes you’d be consuming more than 35g of sugar.

You wouldn’t throw just under nine teaspoons of sugar into your sauce if you were making it yourself. The verdict? Fresher is better. Tomatoes aid digestion, stimulate blood circulation, reduce blood pressure and are packed with vitamins and minerals.

This sauce can form the base for a spaghetti bolognese (cook the mince and add to the sauce once the sauce has cooked). It’s great as a curry sauce; add meat, veg and cream and cook longer. Try it as a chunky tomato sauce on your eggs; perfect for weekend fry ups. You can also eat it as a smooth pasta sauce; fry some leeks and prawns in a separate pan and add them to the sauce, which is my personal favourite.

Read more: Are fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables better for you?

The best part? It yields a lot of sauce so you can freeze it and pull it when you’re feeling lazy.  It’s as convenient as a jar of store-bought sauce but with a whole lot more benefits.

Marinara sauce


  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 800g fresh tomatoes
  • A glug of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Italian herbs, to taste
  • Paprika, to taste
  • Chilli flakes, to taste


  • Finely chop the onion, carrots and garlic.
  • Heat up the olive oil in a tall pot.
  • Add the curry powder, herbs, chilli flakes, salt and pepper to the pot and stir. Let it cook for a few more minutes, stirring often, so that the flavours can infuse.
  • If you’re using cherry tomatoes, place them in the pot whole. If you’re using salad tomatoes or whole tomatoes, chop them roughly and then add them to the pot. Stir in the tomato paste. Let simmer.
  • Allow the tomatoes to cook on medium heat until they form a chunky sauce, stirring occasionally.
  • If you like chunky sauce, serve it up as is. If you want a smoother consistency, bring out the stick blender (this is why you should use a tall pot; so you don’t spray sauce all over yourself). Blend the chunky sauce till it reaches your desired consistency.

This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za

Image credit: iStock

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