Home-made Cooking Sauces v Bottled Sauces

Yet another survey has been released revealing our modern eating habits and how they have changed over the last 50 years. According to the Daily Mail, Britons only spend an average of 38 minutes a day cooking, compared with 100 minutes in 1960. Strangely no-one ever does a survey on how our nutritional needs have changed over that time; probably because very little has actually changed in that area. So if our nutritional needs have not changed why have our eating habits?  Well that’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Cooking every day is time consuming and despite 65% saying that they enjoyed preparing food, the reality is that one in four admit that not only do they use bottled sauces rather than home-made cooking sauces, they couldn’t live without them!

Mars Food UK, who conducted the survey, are known for their delicious chocolate products but are less known for their meal time products like Dolmio sauces and Uncle Ben’s Rice range. Can’t live without ‘bottled sauces’ is music to their corporate ears.

Instead of preparing tomato cooking sauce and a white sauce from scratch for use in our lasagnes and bologneses, should we be spending our precious time with our children or doing chores? Well apparently that is is one of the main reasons that people use convenient food products. However, multiple surveys (even our own) remind me that we love cooking. It doesn’t make much sense.

I decided to find out for myself whether there was much difference a) nutritionally and b) cooking time between home-made tomato and white cooking sauce and bottled. Then I’d know once and for all whether it still leaves time for children and chores.

Bolognese Sauce


1 Onion (Peeled and finely diced)

1 Garlic (Clove – diced)

1 tblsp Olive oil

½ tsp Herbs (Mixed)

1 Pinch Seasoning

1 Can Chopped Tomatoes

1 tblsp Worcestershire Sauce

Bottled (Dolmio Bolognese Sauce. Source – Tesco)

Tomatoes (60%)

Tomato Paste (15%)

Red Peppers (4.7%)

Courgettes (4.7%)

Yellow Peppers (4.1%)


Lemon Juice



Roasted Onion Paste (Onions, Sunflower Oil, Salt)


Olive Oil

Roasted Garlic







  • Heat a pan, add oil, sweat diced onion and garlic in the oil.
  • Add mixed herbs, seasoning and chopped tomatoes
  • Simmer for 10 minutes. Blitz in a food processor or hand blender whilst hot
  • Taste and season again as required. Serve hot or cold.
  • Add hot water to make a thinner consistency suitable for pasta dishes.


Clearly it took a little longer to make the home-made tomato sauce, and even longer had I used fresh tomatoes, however the taste made all the difference. Fresh beat the bottled for me, less salty and less sweet.

White Sauce

Home-made (my latest quick option)

200 mls Natural Yoghurt

2 eggs

Bottled (Dolmio White Creamy Sauce. Source – Tesco)


Sunflower Oil

Modified Maize Starch

Butter Oil Powder (Butter Oil, Lactose, Milk Protein)


Fat Powder (Palm Fat, Lactose, Milk Protein)

Natural Flavouring (contains Celery)

Broth Powder (Sugar, Flavourings, Yeast Extract, Dried Glucose Syrup, Salt, Palm Oil (Hydrogenated)

Sunflower Oil (Smoke Flavouring, Milk Protein)


Acid (Lactic Acid)

Stabiliser (Xanthan Gum)

Milk Proteins

Antioxidant (Rosemary Extract)



  • Gently whisk the two ingredients together.
  • Use in lasagne and gratins.


There isn’t much reason to comment, the ingredient list says it all. Endless ingredients in the bottled, compared to two in the home-made version. In addition, the taste of the Dolmio white sauce in the lasagne was also quite overpowering. Definitely not good enough for my family.


In conclusion, the best way to enjoy good food, is freshly prepared, and if children and chores are neglected whilst you cook, could the answer lie in getting them to cook and share the chores with you?

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About the Author


Sian Breslin is a qualified home economist, Mum of 3 boys and teacher for over 25 years. She is founder of Sian's Plan and believes that healthy eating can be made convenient with a little organisation.
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  • Paul

    Your question is ‘does it leave enough time?’ And your conclusion is ‘get them doing chores WITH…’

    Therefore your conclusion is ‘no’ – is it not?

    I say that as someone who cooks from scratch 9/10 times – not everyone is so lucky to be able to in the real world. I’m sure it’s not intended but your conclusion comes across as being a bit smug – life gets in the way sometimes, using a jar to give you 30mins with your kid is not to be frowned upon.

    • http://siansplan.com/ Sian Breslin

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Hmmm, I can see where you’re coming from and that wasn’t meant to sound smug at all. I’m coming at this as a busy mum who knows all to well that life gets in the way. What I’m trying to say is that getting the kids to help you in the kitchen is a way to spend time with them. My boys loved helping me cook, we got to spend time together and they learnt some hugely valuable skills.

      I don’t agree with you that not everyone is so lucky in the real world. Why would that be the case? Food doesn’t need to be as complicated as what we see on TV nowadays. With the right skills and preparation you can make light work of rustling up a healthy meal from scratch more times that not. It’s cheaper and it can be really quick with simple ingredients. The main problem is a little lack of organisation and I say that as someone who doesn’t tend to be organised. That’s the story of where Sian’s Plan came from, I went through all of this myself and created something that works for me (and a few others thankfully!).