Spaghetti is a great budget dinner. Not expensive, simple to make and full of vegetables, it fills the bill for tasty, cheap, and nutritious. Somewhere along the way I was trained to think that canned spaghetti sauce is evil: if you don't make your own you are doing your family a grave disservice if you buy anything but jarred sauce. And since great sauce is apparently something only tiny ancient Italian nanas can do well, you'd better buy it in the jar or risk terminal embarrassment. (My husband, by the way, makes phenomenal sauce, but that's another blog.)
Some time last year I was shopping on my usual tight budget and I see Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce (in a can, oh horrors!) on sale for $1.25. Looking closer I see it's the same size as the usual jar of sauce, which is on sale two for $5. I'm willing to give most products a try if it might save me money, so into the cart it went, hidden behind the paper towels to cover my shame at buying canned sauce.
It seems to be the great unsung hero of the Hunt's tomato line - it's not even listed on their website. I never see coupons for it, although you will see it on store specials. It's always on the bottom shelf in the pasta isle, although it comes in a lot of varieties so it takes up a fair share of shelf space.
Opening it, it's a nice thick sauce. It's not chunky, but you can see herbs in it. It doesn't look like plain old tomato sauce. It's not that horrid orange-pink that indicates it's full of sugar and fillers, it's a lovely tomato red. Click on the picture - that is not a high-speed action shot, it's really that thick. I should have done video.
The flavor is quite good, I'd put it up against most of the fancy brands. It's not overly sweet, which is great as I hate super-sugared sauces like Chef Boy-R-Dee. Nor is it so tart that it makes you pucker. Truly a nice balance. I neglected to get a picture of the ingredients and nutrition information, but this is just nice sauce without a lot of junk and with all the nutrition you'd expect from a quality food. It does have corn syrup, but it's usually 3rd or 4th on the list of ingredients instead of right up top. It really doesn't even need "doctoring" unless you're a garlic nut or want to add meat.
The price point is very attractive: About $1.50 normally and $1 on sale for a 26 ounce can. Jarred sauce runs about $2.50 on sale and sometimes over $4 regular price. Catch some pasta on sale and you've got dinner for four for two dollars.
Another budget bonus: it's less expensive than plain tomato sauce. You can use this anywhere you might use tomato sauce: lasagna, baked noodle casseroles, pizza sauce, over a meatloaf. Spaghetti sauce is quite versatile: I've added chicken and broccoli with egg noodles for a pasta bake and the family loves it. Use it on pita bread for kid friendly pizzas.
Final Review: Sheer awesomeness. This is a quality product that is incredibly affordable. I've stopped making my own sauce because this product is not a compromise and it's cheaper than I can make it. This is a permanent addition to my pantry; whenever it's on super sale I get as many as I can afford, and I don't hide it in the cart. When you eat a lot of casserole, this can break up the monotony nicely! Go buy some! I've enjoyed every variety I've tried, but my favorites are: Cheese and Garlic, Classic Italian and Mushroom.