Marinara Sauce Simple Enough for Everyday

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Skip the bottled pasta sauce. You can make your own marinara sauce, simple enough for everyday, yet tasty enough for all your favorite dishes.

Marinara Sauce for Everyday | Good Cheap Eats

When I was a starving college student and poor newlywed, I thought the only way to buy spaghetti sauce was to buy the jar from the grocery store. Even back then, it was several dollars a jar, a little less if I bought the multipack from Costco.

If I only I knew then, what I know now….

It’s incredibly easy to make your own pasta sauce at home! And I can make about four times as much for the same price. Who knew?

Over the years, I’ve played with different homemade sauces. There are those I simmer all day in the slow cooker and those that get extra oomph from sausages simmering in their depths.

But, sometimes, I don’t have a jar of one of those long-cooking sauces in the freezer, and I need sauce pronto. That’s when I whip up a batch of this marinara sauce that’s simple enough for everyday, but tasty enough to work wherever it’s needed.

Over spaghetti, atop stuffed shells, layered in lasagna, or dousing a meatball sub, this sauce plays fair. And while it doesn’t make the mondo batch that my other sauce recipes do, it’s still extremely affordable.

Marinara Sauce for Everyday | Good Cheap Eats

How to make this good and cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. Crushed tomatoes are practically a kitchen staple at my house. I was so disappointed when my Costco stopped carrying the large #10 cans of the stuff. No worries. I’ve found that ALDI has very competitive pricing on crushed tomatoes. $0.79 for a large can is a steal in these parts, so I buy a lot every time I’m there.

How I make this recipe easy:

This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.

Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:


Marinara Sauce for Everyday | Good Cheap Eats

If you prepare this recipe, be sure to take a picture and hashtag it #GOODCHEAPEATS. I can't wait to see what you cook up!

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Jamie says

    Have you ever used fresh tomatoes from a garden and then canned the sauce?

    • I have not made sauce from fresh tomatoes in a very long time, but I remember that it does take a while to cook it all down.

  2. Donna says

    Hey Jessica, I buy the 10# can of the san marzano style tomatoes at Costco (whole tomatoes with basil) and then I just puree them with basil. They turn out fine for sauce… I just throw in a couple 4 oz cans of paste with the large can of pureed tomatoes. Delish. I figure it costs me about $5 for a VAT of tomato sauce!

    • I did puree the chopped tomatoes like that during the pantry challenge, but I didn’t like the texture as well. I think possible adding a can of puree to that mixture would probably make the difference. I still like the crushed variety the best. 😉

  3. Mar says

    I make your slow cooker red sauce on a regular basis – this is really just the same thing on the stovetop, right?
    I haven’t purchased pasta sauce in a really long time.

    • It is very similar, yes. A smaller batch with a higher herb-spice ratio. Made it again the other night for meatballs and have to say it was one of the best meals we’ve had in the last month.

    • Marci says

      Me too, I do the slow cooker red sauce. its been about a year and we love it. But I like having this one handy in a pinch. Thanks!

  4. Kathy says

    Thank you! I always look for the lowest sugar sauce and the one I love, Rao’s, cost a fortune. I’m gonna ing to try this instead.

    • Rao’s is yummy. I think you’ll be pleased with this. My eldest didn’t come to the table soon enough last time I made this and he was very, very sorry. LOL!

  5. Pamela says

    Thanks for this recipe! I am going to try quadrupling it for a #10 can of tomatoes.

    • Perhaps don’t 4x all the herbs. They can have a multiplying effect. Go light (maybe double?) and add more later if you need to.

  6. Diane Lesher says

    Can I freeze.

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