The best supermarket Bolognese sauces

Amy Davies
by Amy Davies  |  17 May 2011  |   6 comments

Using ready-made Bolognese sauces is a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table, but have you ever stopped to think about how good (or bad) they are for you?

The best supermarket Bolognese sauces

It’s easy to do – just grab a jar of ready-made sauce off the shelf and a tasty dinner can be whipped up in next to no time. But it’s a fairly expensive way to do things, and you may just be surprised by the nutritional information that you’ll discover in the market leaders.

Have a look at these top selling sauces, and why not give the simple home-made recipe a try next time you’re in the kitchen?

Each sauce is compared by how much salt, sugar and fat can be found per 100g. As a rough-guide, each jar contains 500g, with a serving suggestion per person between 125g and 200g.  

Dolmio Original Bolognese Sauce – around £1.75

The market leader, Dolmio recently overhauled their sauce range so it now only uses 100% natural ingredients. What’s more, a single serving claims to include one of your five fruit and veg a day. In terms of fat, salt and sugar, Dolmio is also one of the healthiest out there with just 0.32g of sodium, 1.3g of fat (0.3g saturates) and 6.7g of sugars per 100g. 

Loyd Grossman Bolognese Pasta Sauce – around £1.79

The former Masterchef presenter has an impressive line of sauces for pasta, curries and more. His Bolognese sauce is suitable for vegetarians and boasts no artificial ingredients or additives. Loyd’s sauce is also fairly healthy, with only 0.4g of sodium, 2.5g of fat (0.3g saturates) and 5.2g of sugar. 

Gordon Ramsay Seriously Good Bolognese & Red Wine Sauce £1.85

The proceeds of this sauce go to Comic Relief, and it also boasts no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours and is suitable for vegetarians. It does however also boast a whopping 17 ingredients in the recipe and one of the highest calorie and fat contents of all the sauces (76kcal and 4.2g (0.6 saturates) fat per 100g. It’s not all bad news though, as sodium is pretty low, with just 0.4g per 100g. Sugar content is about average with 6.6g per 100g.

Ragu Bolognese Basil & Oregano – around £1.05

The cheapest sauce on the list, this Ragu variety is actually relatively healthy, boasting the lowest fat content of any of the sauces with an impressive ‘trace’ of both fats and saturates. The trade-off is perhaps a slightly higher sugar content (7.1g) and increase in sodium (0.47g). Happily, the sauce also boasts no artificial additives or ingredients. 

Seeds of Change Organic Bolognese Sauce – around £1.92

The priciest sauce on the list, this organic sauce is produced to Soil Association Organic Standard and as you’d expect is free from artificial preservatives. It boasts the highest level of sugar in all the sauces (8.9g sugar) but the fat content is surprisingly low (1.3g or 0.3g saturates) along with 0.4g of sodium. 

My Bolognese recipe

So, pretty much all of the mainstream sauces on offer are actually pretty good, with whatever being your personal preference probably making its way into your shopping basket on most occasions. But I’ve got a recipe which I rely on time and time again using mainly store cupboard or common ingredients that, in my opinion, tastes just as good and can be used as the basis for other meals, not just spaghetti Bolognese. What’s more you can control exactly the amount of salt and sugar that is added to the meal, and it’s very cheap to make.

Try this:

Ingredients

1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
pinch of salt (optional)
½ teaspoon of white sugar
1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
ground black pepper – to taste
Olive oil
Yellow pepper (or whatever veg you have), chopped
Minced beef (or vegetarian equivalent)
Pasta (dried or fresh)

Method:

1. Add a splash of olive oil to a large frying pan and leave to heat up. Add the chopped red onion and crushed garlic to the pan and fry for 2 minutes or until the onion is soft.
2. Add the minced beef, frying until browned. At this point, you can drain the fat off if you’re watching the fat content of the meal.
3. Add the yellow peppers or other vegetables to the pan and fry, stirring for a minute or two.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir around until all of the beef is covered. Add a little water if you need to bulk it out a little.
5. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for a few minutes. Add about 1 tablespoon of tomato puree to thicken up the sauce, I like to use sun-dried tomato puree, but that’s up to you. Add the salt (if using), herbs, sugar and stir into the mixture. Add black pepper to taste – I like quite a lot, but you may prefer it with slightly less bang.
6. Simmer until the beef is cooked all the way through and the vegetables are soft. Serve with cooked pasta.
You can also use this as the meat filling for a lasagne, or I turn it into the meat filling for a cottage pie by adding gravy granules at the end of step 6 and stirring all the way through to make a thick sauce.

Also worth your attention:

Gino D’Acampo’s linguine alla puttanesca
Kevin Dundon’s beef casserole