Ask the expert: pre-made sauces

After reading the first part of our recipe makeovers story in the September edition of Healthy U, reader Teresa contacted Diabetes Queensland and asked

"Regarding sauces you buy in a jar that you just add meat and chicken and vegies too and also those pre-made recipe packet mixes... Are they healthy for you or are they full of preservatives and additives... And if they are unhealthy what would you recommend instead?"


Diabetes Queensland Dietitian Michelle Tong responds:

This is a really important question Teresa. Pre-made sauces and packet mixes are very convenient, especially if you are in a rush, but you are right they are not always a great choice because they tend to be high in added salt and sugar.


There are a couple things you can do:

If time doesn't allow you to make your own sauces have a look at the nutrition information panel on the pre-made sauces on the table on the back of the packet. Make sure you look at the per 100g column then look at the sugar and salt. Choose products with less than 15g of sugar per 100g and less than 120mg of sodium per 100g.


If you would like some more information on reading labels have a look at our healthy shopping website  /healthy-shopping.aspx.


Making a sauce from scratch is a fantastic idea because you know exactly what is going into your meal. Take the family favourite Spaghetti Bolognese. You might be surprised at how much salt and sugar is added to the pre-made bottled sauces, but you can whip a delicious alternative using ingredients that are probably already in your pantry or fridge. I have shared my favourite Bolognese sauce recipe below:



  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed (or 1 tsp of bottle crushed garlic)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 300g lean mince
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (I often buy the canned tomatoes that have herbs added to them for extra flavour)
  • 1 tbspn reduced salt tomato paste
  • 1 tbspn dried mixed herbs


*you can also add any other vegetables you have in the fridge such as tomatoes, zucchini etc.



  • sauté garlic
  • add the mince and brown
  • add mushrooms, grated carrots and any other vegetables you have in the fridge
  • then add a can of chopped tomatoes, herbs and tomato paste and simmer until sauce has thickened a little and the mince and vegetables are cooked.


For more delicious homemade sauce recipes check out our dietitian's favourite sauce recipes


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