Cooking with real, whole foods most often means cooking with fresh ingredients, but it is also good to have some quality pantry ingredients. Utilizing some pre-made pantry ingredients can seriously expedite the meal making process.
One of my favorite “products” to have on hand is a high quality marinara sauce. I will often add it to browned ground meat – beef, bison, chicken, pork, hot Italian sausage, etc. – and then either eat that mixture by itself or add it to veggie noodles or roasted veggies or a veggie mash, any kind of veggie really. You can also make it more complex by cooking some onions and garlic before you add the ground meat and/or adding some veggies in with the meat and marinara sauce mixture – like shredded carrots, diced bell pepper, mushrooms, etc.
The most important part is to make sure that the ingredients in the marinara sauce are high quality. The best way to make sure of this is to READ THE LABEL J and look for the ingredients to be what you would use if you made it at home: tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, onion, basil, olive oil, etc. It shouldn’t have any added sugar, corn syrup, crappy oils (like canola) or words that require a dictionary to understand.
It may take a little bit of time to read labels the first time, but once you find a quality marinara sauce that you like shopping becomes a breeze since you’ll know which sauce to buy. I typically keep a couple of jars in my pantry and stock up regularly when I get low.
My go-to brand is Whole Foods Organic (they have several flavors that I like including a basic marinara and one with mushrooms), but I also know that Rao’s has some good options (including a low FODMAP version called “Sensitive Marinara Sauce” that is made without garlic and onions) and I’ve heard great things about Yellow Barn.
We’d love to hear about any sauces that you love too!
– Caitlin Allday, RDN