Did you know that a tomato sauce is one of the five mother sauces used in French cooking? It is something everyone should learn to make. A basic tomato sauce has tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, salt, and bay leaf. In Italian cuisine, the bay leaf is replaced by basil, and you have your basic pasta sauce.
Super healthy and delicious. You can riff on this basic mix, add a dash of pepper, and a hint of oregano, and also make it cheesy or boozy. The choice is endless. The main pasta sauces include Spaghetti, Bolognese, Carbonara, Alfredo, and Marinara. Though the Prego portfolio has a few Alfredo sauces and even a Basil Pesto, its mainstay is its many flavorful tomato-based pasta sauces.
Prego Pasta Sauces – Oh the Taste
In a blind taste test judged by culinary wizards and restaurateurs, Prego was top of the heap for commercial, store-bought, pasta sauce. Launched by Campbell Soups in 1981, Prego gives you a range of some of the best Italian tomato sauces out there. Using a model that ranks ingredients via a numeric value, each sauce recipe has been tweaked to create a distinct taste and flavor.
There is a vegetarian/vegan line, an organic line, and a Hearty Meat Sauce line. There is also a Chunky Garden line and a special line in Asia with regional flavors. There are over 30 pasta sauces in the repertoire and the most highly recommended is the Garden Chunky Combo Italian Sauce with zucchini, bell peppers, celery, and carrots to tickle the senses.
If you are looking for something exotic the Creamy Vodka will blow you away. With heavy cream, a mix of ricotta and parmesan cheeses, and of course vodka, this sauce is extreme.
For those who prefer a purely vegetarian version, there is the Super Veggies with Roasted Garlic and Herbs. The Garlic and herbs mildly flavor a fulsome sauce that contains pureed sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrot, squash, red peppers, and spinach.
Meat lovers have a choice of the Italian Sauce Flavored with Meat, the Hidden Veggies with Meat, or the Italian Sausage and Garlic, all super delicious. These simple hearty sauces that are a classic combo of tomato sauce, vegetables, and meat, make for quick and easy weekday meals. Just boil some pasta, heat the sauce, and combine.
Other tasty versions include the Farmer’s Market Classic Marinara, the Garden Chunky Mushroom and Green Pepper sauce, and the Hidden Super Veggies Traditional and Prego Lower Calorie Traditional Italian sauce, all of which complete the Top10 hits of the entire product line.
Let’s Talk Ingredients and Nutrition
Prego Sauces are manufactured through a patented “anti-weeping” innovation that keeps the sauce bonded and thick without the use of any starch or gluten. All tomato-based sauces are 100% gluten-free and MSG-free.
Given the range of sauces, a regular half cup of sauce (120 ml) would contain between 60-90 calories and 1.5-5 grams of fat. A 24oz bottle of sauce contains 5 servings per container and the ingredients include- tomato puree and/or diced tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, sugar, a vegetable or animal protein isolate (usually beef in the non-vegetarian and pea in the vegetarian), oil (usually canola or olive), onion and garlic (diced, pureed or extract), citric acid, and spices. Depending on the variety, the additional ingredients would include pureed and or chunky cut vegetables, one or more varieties of cheeses, pureed/minced beef, cream, vodka, soy protein, beef, and pork meatballs, bay leaf, or basil.
If you are sensitive to or do not eat onions and garlic, the Sensitive Recipe Italian sauce is for you and if you are looking for a low-calorie healthier version, buy the Lower Calorie Traditional Italian sauce which has only 45 calories and zero grams of fat per half cup.
A regular 24oz bottle (60-70 calories) contains-
- 1.5g or 2% Fat (Trans Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g, Monounsaturated Fat 1g)
- Cholesterol 0mg 0%
- Sodium 470-480mg 20-21%
- Total Carbohydrates 10-12g 3-4% (Dietary Fiber 1-3g, Total Sugars 8-9g- includes 3g added sugars)
- Protein 2g
- Vitamin D 0mcg
- Iron 0.7-0.8mg
- Calcium 20-30mg 0-2%
- Potassium 310-380mg 6-8%
Prego Pasta Sauces with higher Fat content and calories (80-90 calories) contain-
- 5g or 6% Fat (Trans Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0g, Monounsaturated Fat 1-1.5g)
- Cholesterol 0-10mg 0-3%
- Sodium 430-480mg 19-21%
- Total Carbohydrates 7-13g 3-5% (Dietary Fiber 3g, Total Sugars 9g- includes 0-4g added sugars)
- Protein 2-4g
- Vitamin D 0mcg
- Iron 0.8-1.3mg
- Calcium 30-40mg
- Potassium 370-400mg 8%
Those Sauces that are low-cal/low sodium (70 calories) contain-
- 1.5g or 2% Fat (Trans Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0g, Monounsaturated Fat 0.5g)
- Cholesterol 0mg 0%
- Sodium 360mg 16%
- Total Carbohydrates 14g 5% (Dietary Fiber 3g, Total Sugars 9g- includes 3g added sugars)
- Protein 2g
- Vitamin D 0mcg
- Iron 0.8mg
- Calcium 30mg
- Potassium 440mg 10%
So Are The Prego Pasta Sauces Healthy?
Pasta is traditionally a comfort food and a quick meal for busy families. On a health scale, a store-bought product is always much lower than homemade ones. The other problems include the high saturation of salt and sugar per serving in the sauces and the unfortunate use of Canola Oil (Omega6) in place of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Omega3). Lab testing has shown Omega 6 oils to increase appetite instead of curbing it, and given the proportions of fat, salt, and sugar in most of the sauces, it is difficult to label them as healthy.
But it is also true that tomato-based sauces are low in saturated fat and packed with lycopene (the antioxidant linked to protection from prostate cancer). But best of all they are cholesterol free.
Prego is a better product than most in the market and a comparison of ingredients and calorific content places the classic Marinara Sauce (which incidentally does use Olive oil instead of Canola) as the healthiest sauce in the portfolio. One can also opt for the Low Calorie (70cal) or the Low Sodium variety (taste is not compromised) if the 360mg of sodium is within one’s daily dietary needs. Paired with whole wheat pasta, it isn’t a terrible meal to make for the family. The Sensitive Pasta Sauce is the preferred choice of those who suffer from IBS and cannot eat onions and garlic.
Prego identifies dairy and allergens on its ingredients list so people with food issues can make informed choices. If any of their products contain gluten it is so marked. They make it a point to verify that each ingredient is gluten-free, then the finished product is put through rigorous testing to ensure it remains that way.
What is the Shelf-life of the Sauce and the Best way to Store it?
Prego sauces are best refrigerated after opening and stored at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the variety and ingredients, the quality of a sauce will be determined by the temperature of the fridge and how long the sauce is kept outside.
Be careful if the sauce has been kept refrigerated for several weeks after opening. It is advisable to check the smell, color, and taste of the sauce, before heating and adding it to any food. While heating the sauce the package instructions should be followed and the sauce should be watched closely to ensure it is properly cooked– adjusting heat and time as needed.
The best flavors from the sauce are enjoyed when the sauce is opened for the first time and up to 3 days after opening- this is especially true for the Alfredo and Cooking Sauces- even when the unused sauces are promptly refrigerated at the recommended temperature.
To ensure that the customer is properly informed, all Prego sauce bottles have a “Best Use By” date printed on the “shoulder” of the bottle, to indicate the expected shelf-life. The sauce should be used up by this date for the best flavor and texture. Prego ensures that all products are prepared and packaged with “use over time” in mind, but shelf-life is considerably shortened if the sauce is not stored properly and exposed to adverse weather conditions. Just like for the refrigerated items, Prego recommends that items that do not need refrigeration, be stored in a cool, dry place where temperatures do not exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
How do I find my favorite Prego Sauce easily?
The simplest way to find the product of your choice of Prego Pasta Sauce is to use the product locator tool on the Prego/Campbell’s website- https://www.campbells.com/prego/where-to-buy/
It is also stocked at most major retailers like Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Jay C Food Stores, and online retailers like Amazon, CVS, Kroger, Meijer, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Instacart, and Vitacost.
Prego also undertakes periodic sales and coupons for their loyal customers and these are available on their website and social media pages like their Facebook brand pages and online partner’s pages (e.g. Ibotta). Besides this, great offers and deals are also given through retail stores that stock the products, newspapers, magazines, and even product labels.
I am Anand, and I am a business owner and consultant in my day job. I have spent years studying what’s inside the products we buy. ‘Feedrer’ is a wordplay on you-know-who and talks about all things food.