As a frugal cook, I often make things from scratch rather than buying a mix or packaged food item. This works well in many cases, but in others, it’s actually cheaper to buy the pre-packaged item. Recently, I decided to look at whether spaghetti sauce is cheaper from scratch or from a can.
Canned vs. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce: Price
Looking at price alone, it’s actually an easy call. At Winco Foods, I bought 26.5-ounce can of Del Monte Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce for 78 cents. At most stores, in fact, I can find canned spaghetti sauce for one dollar or less per can.
For comparison purposes, I also purchased one 14-ounce can and one 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, and one four-ounce can of mushrooms (stems and pieces). This came to over a dollar – and that doesn’t even include the onions, herbs and spices that I already had at home.
In terms of price alone, the canned spaghetti sauce is obviously the better buy. But for me, there’s more to it than that.
Canned vs. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce: Taste and appearance
Do my family and I actually prefer the canned sauce or the homemade sauce? Based on taste and appearance, I would favor the homemade sauce. The canned sauce is overly sweet, and the mushrooms in the mushroom sauce are nearly invisible – they must be finely minced (probably leftover bits from something else). Homemade sauce has tasty chunks and pieces of mushrooms, and I control the herbs and spices, adjusting them to my family’s taste.
Canned vs. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce: Ingredients
Canned spaghetti sauce and homemade spaghetti sauce have some common ingredients: tomato sauce, mushrooms, herbs and spices. The canned sauce contains only dehydrated onion, while I can chop and add fresh onion at home. My biggest concerns, however, are about salt and sugar.
Canned and jarred spaghetti sauces contain added sweeteners. I’m not sure why – I guess people who buy ready-made sauce must prefer a sweeter sauce. Some simply contain sugar, but some contain high-fructose corn syrup, which is widely considered to be one of the more unhealthy sweeteners available. The Del Monte sauce contains corn syrup. It’s not high-fructose corn syrup, but I would still rather have a sauce without added sweeteners – like my homemade spaghetti sauce.
Salt, or sodium, is also an unhealthy additive for many of us. I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure, and am trying to cut back on sodium. It looks like spaghetti sauce, however, may be a problem for me either way. The Del Monte canned sauce has 630 mg of sodium per serving, and my homemade sauce adds up to 680 mg per serving. Ouch! I might be able to cut that amount by using a low-salt tomato sauce, and by using fresh instead of canned mushrooms, which of course will add to the cost.
Canned vs. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce: Nutrition
Spaghetti sauce, as a tomato-based product, is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as lycopene (explanation). Del Monte Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce contains 10% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A, 15% of the RDA for Vitamin C, 2% of the RDA for calcium, and 6% of the RDA for iron. Scratch sauce contains 20% of the RDA for Vitamin A, 8% of the RDA for Vitamin C, 0% of the RDA for calcium, and 12& of the RDA for iron. While there are differences, I can’t say, based on these numbers, which sauce is better nutritionally.
Canned vs. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce: The Verdict
What it comes down to is weighting your preferences. If you place more importance on price than quality, the canned spaghetti sauce may be your best bet. If you want a better quality sauce, and you would like to control the ingredients, you might prefer homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch. If your primary concern is health and nutrition, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the two.
Now, if someone can tell me how to stop myself from eating too much pasta, that’s what I really need to know!