Are Brits actually starting to cook?

British supermarket shelves have long been awash with cooking cheats that are convenient aides but ultimately additive-ridden rubbish. White sauce sachets, bolognese pots, pasta sauce tins and the like have become a mainstay of our culinary landscape, but things may about to change.

As Brits become more health conscious and start to establish more of a connection with food the use of readymade sauces seems to be in decline. Cooking sauce sales plummeted by £30 million in a year after the makers of Dolmio warned many of its products should be consumed only once a week, with research finding a drop in demand for jars of sauce as Britons increasingly prefer to cook healthier meals from scratch.

Analysts Kantar Worldpanel showed that the overall market for cooking sauce was continuing to decline, falling 3.7 per cent in value and 4.1 per cent in volume. According to trade rag The Grocer that is the sixth consecutive year of decline, with £30.1 million has evaporated from the sector’s value in the past year.

The report noted that health conscious Brits are now looking for less processed options, with make your own sauce kits emerging on the market that use fresh ingredients. A pot of Dolmio Bolognese sauce contains six cubes of sugar, which is almost as much sugar as a Mars bar (although some of that is naturally occurring sugars). Uncle Ben’s has also said that their range of pasta sauces should be eaten “as an occasional treat” because of the high levels of sugar and salt they contain.

A Mars Food Spokesperson said: “We want to help make it a little bit easier for people to cook convenient, healthy, tasty and affordable meals for their families. The vast majority of our products like Dolmio Bolognese sauces are absolutely intended for everyday meals that deliver on taste, convenience and health. It is made with simple ingredients, provides one of your five a day in every portion and contains no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.”

But it really needn’t be that taxing to make your own. Not only is cooking from scratch healthier it is also more enjoyable. We look at ways to kick out the pots and make from scratch with these easy-to-prepare alternatives:

Bolognaise sauce


  • Quality tinned tomatoes
  • tomato puree
  • mixed herbs
  • garlic


Heat the garlic in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Mix in the puree, tinned tomatoes and add mixed herbs for a tasty alternative.

White Sauce 


  • 25g/1oz butter
  • 25g/1oz plain flour
  • 600ml/1 pint milk
  • salt and white pepper


Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour until you get a thick paste. Take off the heat and gradually stir in the milk until it becomes a smooth sauce. Return to the heat and, stirring all the time, bring to the boil.

Carbonara Sauce


  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 oz parmesan or grana padano cheese, finely grated
  • 4 rashers middle bacon or 6 rashers streaky bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Beat the eggs in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper and most of the cheese. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon pieces over a medium heat until just starting to brown. Pour the eggy mixture over the pasta and bacon in the frying pan and toss the pasta in this mixture to ensure that the sauce coats it well.



  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


The easiest way: Chop and dice and chuck into a blender.

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