Make your own GST-free pasta sauce for half the price

Before the advent of technology – such as the invention of pasteurization or the creation of MSG – food were made from scratch at home. Baked beans and sardine did not exist in cans. Tomato sauce and pasta sauce were not packaged conveniently in bottles.

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In light of GST, I want to show people how to avoid buying canned food and thought of making some popular processed food from scratch. An easy one would be tomato-based pasta sauce.

Spaghetti bolognese was one of the dishes I made when I started cooking as it’s easy to make and freezer-friendly. I started with a bottle of pasta sauce and then moved to making my own with the help of a can of tomato puree. This time, I make the pasta sauce from scratch and I’m pleased to share that it taste a lot like what you get in a bottle (if not better)!

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes: 2 cups

Olive oil x 2 tbsp
Onion, finely chopped x 1/2 cups (1 piece)
Fresh tomatoes, seeded x 1 kg (10 pieces)
Garlic x 4 cloves
Vinegar x 2 tbsp
Dried basil x 1/2 tsp
Sea salt

Glass jar
Handblender (optional)

sara's homemade pasta sauce 1


Mince garlic, chop onions and peel tomatoes. Puree tomato in food processor.

Saute onions in olive oil until tender. Add tomatoes, vinegar and garlic. Bring to a boil and reduce until liquid is almost gone. Stir in seasonings (dried basil leaves, sea salt and pepper). Remove from heat for about 1/2 hour to allow flavour from herbs to amalgamate into the sauce. Let cool.

When sauce is cool, pour pasta sauce into a glass jar. Seal tightly.

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  • Use ripe tomato as they are sweeter. You can tell if they are soft and red.
  • If you want the sauce to be smooth, blend it with a hand blender before putting seasonings (I did that)
  • Refrigerate until needed. If you do not plan to use it soon, freeze it.
  • Label your homemade pasta sauce. Remember to include the date.
  • When I added meat and onions to make spaghetti bolognese, I added more pepper, salt, sugar and dried basil. Check out my 15 minutes spaghetti bolognese on Instagram!

local tomato

Definitely. We are not paying for the glass jar, labels, storage, labour and profit. However, you need to buy local tomatoes. Imported tomato can cost RM 1 each. At Jusco, I managed to buy 1 kg worth of tomatoes from Cameron Highlands for RM 2.50 a kg. Onion and garlic only adds up to at most 30 cents. Here’s the calculation:

Tomatoes: RM 2.50
Other ingredients: ~RM 1
TOTAL: ~RM 3.50 (for 400 g)


Even if you think a few Ringgit is not a huge difference, do remember that we are using the best ingredients e.g olive oil and it’s free of preservatives. It’s concentrated (I did not add water) and freshly made (not put in the store for months).

sara's homemade pasta sauce 3

How are you affected by GST? Mail me at [email protected] if you have tips or need help to eat better with a tight budget!

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