Jarred Pasta Sauce VS Homemade

pastasaucebEvery time I walk down the pasta aisle in Walmart, I am amazed at the number of pasta sauces. Jar after jar of marinara sauce, garden veggies, meat sauce, sauces spiked with wine, store brands, celebrity brands, with this kind of variety,  is it even worth making our own?

Let’s take a look at the most basic pasta sauce.  Walmart’s great value traditional jarred Pasta Sauce VS Homemade.


  • Walmarts great value traditional pasta sauce 24-oz jar $1.50
  • Bertolli Vodka Sauce 24-oz jar $2.40
  • Emeril’s Home Style Marinara Pasta sauce 25 oz jar $2.58
  • Classico Four Cheese Pasta sauce, 26 oz  jar $2.16

Basic Homemade Tomato Sauce

Makes 2 cups (16 oz)

Sauce2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil: $0.44
1 medium onion: $0.79
4 garlic cloves: $0.12
1 (28-ounce) can whole or chopped tomatoes: $1.89
pinch dried red pepper flakes: $0.05
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel: $0.50
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley: $0.25
coarse salt: $0.01
freshly grated black pepper: $0.01

TOTAL: $4.06

Hold up!?!

Is the price difference surprising to anyone else?  It was to me.  I thought they would come out to about the same price.  Now we are talking Walmart prices here… I mean if you want to cook cheap on a budget where you shop will make a difference.

This basic homemade tomato sauce takes about thirty minutes to make (rushed),  including time to chop the onion and prep the rest of the ingredients. Not nearly as convenient as opening a jar from the cupboard.

I started to notice that the jars of commercial tomato sauce are pretty much free of weird additives, fillers, and flavor enhancers. Tomatoes are always the first ingredient, as they should be. You’ll get things like dehydrated onion powder and citric acid that we wouldn’t normally use in our cooking,  but that does not give me any concern and I have no problem feeding this to my family.

So why even bother making homemade sauce?

It’s the flavor baby! Even when using canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones from a local fresh market or even your own garden if you’re lucky,  a homemade tomato sauce made with onions I sauteed myself and spices from my cupboard always tastes richer and more balanced to me than what comes from a jar.  I also like the varied texture of homemade as opposed to the pureed texture of sauce from a jar.

and if you think about it there are lots of ways to fix up a jar of tomato sauce to make it taste better, but I still like making it myself, tasting as I go and adjusting as needed.

I have to admit that I thought that the homemade sauce would be the clear winner.  But once you factor in the cost, convenience, and how good it is to put in your temple…store bought starts to look pretty good!

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