As a northern girl a meal is not complete unless it has some form of sauce, whether it's gravy, tomato or cream based it has to be there to tie a meal together. So even though I prep my meals in advance I'm sure you've noticed there isn't a shortage of sauce based goodness.
There is a common misconception that ALL sauce making takes a long time or uses a lot of ingredients so I know loads of you take the 'easier option' of convenience foods.
Some leading brands are so high in fat and sugar that they are definitely not what you should be using regularly 'the company behind Dolmio and Uncle Ben's sauces says some products should only be consumed once a week due to high salt, sugar or fat content.'* Definitely not the sort of thing you want to be feeding your family and friends right?
But whats the alternative? Now don't get me wrong, sometimes I also feel the need to just throw something together but the trick is making sure it's the right thing and it fits the way I eat and what I like. Sounds simple right?
To stop me grabbing the nearest thing I like to make a batch of tomato sauce that is so versatile It can be used with pretty much anything. I absolutely adore Italian food and that has been the inspiration for this sauce. It mainly uses store cupboard ingredients and stores for a week in a sterilised jar when done.
It's just a case of a little preparation then leaving it to simmer and do it's thing.
Now it's all well and good having a go to sauce but you've also got to know what to do with it. I use my sauce in so many different ways so it doesn't feel like I'm eating the same thing every meal especially if I am using it in my meal prep.
First up, on baked chicken or fish. Each of the ingredients I use in the sauce goes well with chicken or fish which is one of the reasons I use it so often. I layered some sauce onto the fish in this case then created a crumb with almonds and mixed herbs then baked for 20mins. Serve it with a side of veg and your good to go.
Now secondly, who doesn't like a pasta dish? I've made the switch to wholegrain pasta to up my fibre intake, an easy switch to make. I love the way fusilli clings to sauces so it was one of my first choices for this but penne, conchiglie, farfalle or rigatoni would work just as well.
I start by crisping up some smoked bacon or pancetta lardons in a dry pan, throw in a couple of tablespoons of the sauce to heat through then add the pasta. I cook my pasta al dente as I prefer the texture.
As the sauce already contains onion, chilli and garlic this pasta dish requires very little else but for the cheese lovers out there knock yourselves out with some grated parmesan on top and you're good to go. Quick, easy and tasty.
Last and definitely not least risotto. My favourite rice to use is carnaroli, if you can't get hold of it I'd use arborio, a great substitute. Carnaroli has great flavour, holds it's shape well and is pretty much fool proof so there's no going wrong even if you've never made risotto before.
Risotto is such a comforting dish and again this sauce works just as well. It can be a tad time consuming to make but the end result is well worth it. I start with a classic method of gradually adding stock to rice and chicken, then add a couple of tablespoons of the sauce and one of cream cheese just to add a little more creaminess to the consistency.
All of these take less than 10mins prep time and 20mins cooking time so they are perfect for a midweek dinner or easy lunch if your in a rush.
Give the sauce a try. It's so much cheaper than the alternate convenience foods out there and has a lot less salt and only natural sugars from the onions and tomatoes. Tomatoes are also low in fat, high in fibre and a low-calorie source of many vitamins and minerals. Win win hey?