(Semi) Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Not long ago, one of my good friends jokingly told me a story about how excited her kids were when she made a cake “from scratch”—a box cake mix.  I have many good memories of my own mother in the kitchen, making birthday cakes and other special treats (yes, from scratch), having dinner ready when we got home from school and work, and making it seem effortless.

But times have changed.  And try as I might, I am not my mother.

Running a household is not effortless to me.  I’m tired most days.  Cranky.  Stressed–thinking about work when I am at home, and thinking about home when I am at work.  Wondering when I’ll get the laundry done, the juice cleaned up from the kitchen floor, and if I’ll ever have time again to sit down and watch an episode of Criminal Minds (in peace).

So in this hustle-bustle life we live, sometimes it’s just easier to buy the ready-made cakes and cookies and whatnot to send with the kids to school.  There are more important things in life than spending hours in the kitchen after getting home from an 8-hour workday.  I’m already missing my Doodle for 40-plus hours a week; the last thing I want to do is give up more play time with him to spend in the kitchen.  These moments are too precious.

However, we do still have to eat, and I try to make wholesome meals using as many shortcuts as I can.  I want my son to grow up knowing that “real” food doesn’t come from the Taco Bell drive through or in combination with a Hamburger Helper box (though believe me, I’ve eaten plenty of it in my day).  I want to make real stuff that we actually want to eat. Good stuff that our body needs.  Without slaving in the kitchen for hours.

Spaghetti is a staple in our house.  It’s economical, filling, and oh-yeah…thumbs-up approved by our (almost) 4-year old.  And while it is so easy to warm up a jar of Ragu, I can make my own sauce in almost the same amount of time, while adding in a few extra veggies for good measure.  Moms have to be sneaky, and often.

(Semi) Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (click to print)

  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • minced1/2 yellow onion
  • diced1/2 green pepper
  • diced1/4 cup chopped carrots
  • chopped1/4 – 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of baking soda (to help neutralize the acid)

While the water for your pasta is boiling, slice up your veggies.   Sauté until tender. Add remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.  Add cooked meatballs or Italian sausage.  Bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered about 25-30 minutes.



  1. Julie

    Ashley, like you, we make our own sauce, but we take it to an even easier level by buying the veggies already chopped up from the salad bar at the grocery store. It saves us even more time preparing dinner so we can spend more time with each other after dinner. 🙂

  2. Kitchen Meets Girl

    Julie, what a great idea. I’m always looking for time-saving methods to get out of the kitchen faster. Thanks for the tip!




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Hello There!

Interestingly enough, I didn’t grow up with an interest in cooking.  In fact, I informed my mother on multiple occasions that I was not getting an advanced education so I could spend my evenings preparing meals.

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