Cheaper Than Store Bought Marinara Sauce

Cheaper Than Storebought Homemade Marinara Recipe

Rustic Homemade Marinara Sauce

5.0 stars stars based on 6 reviews

Hands-on time:
Serves: 4

Easy to make with pantry staples, this recipe is much cheaper than store-bought marinara and is bursting with Italian Restaurant flavors.

Cheaper Than Storebought Marinara | Stuffed Sweet Potato Monday

How To Get Rustic Italian Restaurant Flavors.

Sure, marinara out of a jar tastes fine. Great even, if you’re buying the “good stuff.”

But if you’re anything like me, you probably end up doctoring your store-bought sauce anyway, right?

I like a LOT of flavor. Consequently, I end up dumping a few more Tbs. of garlic powder, basil and oregano into my marinara. After a while I realized I could make marinara better at home starting from scratch. To get rustic, Italian Restaurant like flavors, you’ve got to make it at home.

To really coax the flavors out of marinara, you need to heat it on the stove for a while. At low heat for an hour or two is ideal but a half an hour will do. (… I know, I know, you just don’t have the time on a weeknight. But I’m telling you, this is hands off! Can you put it on the stove when you walk in the door and remember to stir every 10 minutes or so? You can, and I promise you, it’s worth it.) Warming marinara on the stove over time, whether the store-bought kind or homemade, transforms the acidity of the tomatoes into a rich, brothy, balanced flavor, and is worth the investment of time.

Cheaper Than Storebought Marinara | Stuffed Sweet Potato Monday

Even though I’m claiming this marinara recipe to be from scratch, I still use crushed tomatoes from the can. Crushed Plum Tomatoes from Trader Joes are a good choice. If you have fresh tomatoes from the garden or farmer’s market, this recipe will turn out even better. But this isn’t just about flavor. There’s another very compelling reason to make homemade marinara …

Cheaper Than Storebought Marinara | Stuffed Sweet Potato Monday

Making From Scratch Saves You Money.

Marinara is made from the cheapest stuff in the grocery aisle: canned tomatoes, canned beans and bulk spices. Open your pantry and you probably already have all the ingredients. When you buy marinara from the store, you’re paying for marketing, “proprietary” blends (which you can learn to rival) and convenience. But I’m willing to argue you’re not getting that much convenience, because, frankly …

Making Homemade Marinara Sauce Is Easy.

Have you ever read the ingredient list on the back of your favorite marinara jar? There probably wasn’t much that surprised you. Sure, maybe a few weird “food industry” ingredients at the bottom that help with preservation. But overall, tomato sauce is composed of basic pantry staples and is no secret. You can follow the ingredient list on the jar as a starting point, adjusting the proportions to your liking.

With a little practice and the confidence to tweak and try new things, you can learn to master homemade marinara.

Follow this recipe as a starting point and then adjust to your liking. It looks like a lot of ingredients at first glance, but seriously, you have most of them. (And if you don’t have one of them, it will probably turn out fine without it!) After you’ve played around and found marinara you like, read the five variations below for inspiration on how to mix it up (extra spicy, chunky garden, vodka sauce, etc.).

Your weekday noodles (or zoodles) are about to get a serious upgrade. Chunky, homemade marinara is also delicious on this protein-packed stuffed sweet potato recipe.


1 28 oz Can Of Crushed Tomatoes, Unsalted
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp. Dried Cumin
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
½ tsp. Cayenne Powder
1 tsp. Dried Thyme Flakes
1 tsp. Dried Basil
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Parsley Flakes
1 tsp. Cocoa Powder
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 15 oz Can Black Beans
Handful Spinach
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper


Add all ingredients to a large saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for at least a half hour, stirring occasionally. Five minutes before removing from heat, add can of black beans. One minute before removing from heat, add handful of spinach, salt and pepper. Adjust spices to your taste. If the sauce gets too thick, add water, olive oil or tomato juice to thin.

Cheaper Than Storebought Marinara | Stuffed Sweet Potato Monday

Here Are Three Variations For Your Homemade Marinara:

1. Vodka Sauce:
Start with a half can of tomato paste and deglaze it in the pan with a splash of vodka. Add all the other marinara ingredients, but omit the black beans. Add another ½ cup vodka. Cook for a half hour as you normally would. Right before serving, add ½ cup almond milk and 2 Tbs. earth balance.

2. Garden Marinara:
Add chopped onions, chopped poblano peppers, chopped red bell peppers and chopped zucchini. Sauté them on the stove in a little oil for a couple minutes so they get a few brown edges, then add to the pot so they get soft and cook with the tomato sauce.

3. Classic Marinara (Less Chunky):
Omit black beans. Use a can of tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes, or use an immersion blender to purée everything. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil. If you’re interested in a lower-fat version, add 1/2 cup of V8 instead of olive oil. If using V8 or tomato juice, you may want to keep the marinara on heat for a little longer to cook the acidic flavor out of the juice and ensure that deep, rustic, flavor.

4. Arrabbiata (Spicy):
Add crushed red chili peppers or red pepper flakes, double the cayenne pepper, add a puréed roasted red pepper from the jar.

Cheaper Than Storebought Marinara | Stuffed Sweet Potato Monday

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