Thursday, June 14, 2012

40 Cups of Spaghetti Sauce

One of the main reasons I write this blog is because I have several young ladies in my life who are learning how to manage their homes, and some of them have asked me for tips in knowing how to do this.  I am certainly not an expert, but I've learned a few things here and there - and my thinking is "Why re-create the wheel?"  I think they are very wise to ask others for help, and I'm thrilled if they think I have something to offer.

Here are a few of my younger friends the morning after a slumber party at my house.  They look tired because no one slept all night.  
Oh how I love these girlies!

A favorite house management skill that I've learned over time is to cook in bulk. I'm really not one of those persons who cooks for three days and then has all of their meals ready for a month - although I admire them greatly.  I'm really more of a - "I think I'll triple or quadruple dinner to keep myself from having to cook 3-4 times in the future" kind of girl.  This works better for me because I purchase meat by the whole steer, and I don't want to thaw meat, cook it, and then refreeze it.  I also like to use fruits and veggies that are in season, so partial bulk cooking works best for me.

This sauce recipe has been evolving in my kitchen for many years and is now, by far, our family's favorite spaghetti sauce. Since I don't want to be in the kitchen making it all the time, I prepare it in very large batches and try to always have some in the freezer.  It really doesn't take much extra effort to 7 times it than it does to make a single batch - so I do.  I also like that when I make it in bulk, I can cut down on some of the oil and sugar, and still get the same flavor.  It's also much cheaper to do it this way because bulk cans of tomato sauce and paste are less expensive per ounce than smaller cans.


2  106 oz. Cans Tomato Sauce
6 Cups Tomato Paste
1 Cup Olive Oil
7 Cups Diced Onions
1/3 Cup Minced Garlic
9 Cups Water (or more if necessary)
1/3 Cup + 2 Tbs. Dried Oregano
2 Tbs. Dried Basil
5 Bay Leaves
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tbs. Salt
1/2 Tbs. Pepper

I use this blade on my food processor to chop onions.  
I actually run them through twice on this blade.  
It makes quick work and seems to cut down on the tears.

This is how they turn out using that method.

To peel garlic, hit the palm of your hand against the side of your 
knife blade as it rests on a clove of garlic.  This smashes 
the clove a bit and the skin easily peels off.

Then toss all the peeled cloves into a small food processor 
and pulse until the garlic is minced.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 the oil and cook 1/2 the onions over moderate heat, stirring for about 8 minutes or until the onions are soft and transparent, but not browned. Transfer the onions to a large roaster pan.  Repeat with the rest of the oil and onions, but this time add all the garlic to the cooking onions when they've cooked for about 7-8 minutes. Cook the onions and garlic together for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Add to the onions already in the roaster pan.

Add all of the other ingredients to the roaster pan and stir well.  I like to pinch and twist the oregano and basil in my fingers before I add in order to release the natural oils in the dried spices.  Leave the bay leaves whole.  Bring the sauce to a boil then turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for at least an hour.  After an hour, remove the bay leaves since they will continue to get stronger.  You could continue to simmer the sauce at this point, or you could let cool so that you can package and freeze it.  I freeze in 24 oz. packages because that is the size that works best for 1 meal for my family without leftovers.

The cost for this large batch is around $10.  Honestly, you can buy about the same amount of Ragu if you have coupons and sales prices for about $10.  In addition, the ingredients in Ragu are not that bad, although it appears there is quite a bit more sugar.  Of course it also takes longer to make this recipe than it does to open a jar of store sauce.  However when it comes to taste - no comparison!  You should hear my family complain when I run out of the good stuff and serve store-bought jar sauce for supper.

I pinch one of my large cans like this and ladle sauce into it.  
This is an easy and less messy way to pour the sauce into the freezer bags.

The way I look at it, by making this large batch I just bought myself 13 meals out of the kitchen.  Sure, I (or the kids) still need to prepare some noodles and maybe a salad, but the sauce is ready and just needs to be pulled out of the freezer and thawed.......which means I have a little time to catch up on some painting - or write a blog post Woo-Hoo!

How do you get tasty, healthy meals on the table without chaining yourself to the kitchen everyday?  Like my younger friends, I'm always looking for ways to work smarter and not harder.

Hey, thanks for stopping by again.  Love ya.



  1. Oooo, I can almost smell it cooking. YUM!

  2. Hi, what a great site. I am looking for such a recipe as this BUT would like to can it & not freeze it. Do you know how long I would have to pressure it? Thank You Again

    1. Thanks for the compliment! I'm so sorry - I do not have an answer for you. I've been more of a freezer than a canner, so I'm not much help.


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