Nutritionist Rose Carr guides us through the convenient options available for ready-made gravies and sauces.
Winter is the time when hot gravies and sauces add flavour and ‘comfort’ to our meals, but making them from scratch is not always feasible. We may lack the time, inclination or skills.
There are plenty of gravies and sauces to choose from in the supermarket, both in liquid and powdered forms. Gravies come in chicken, lamb, beef, pork, and onion flavours, some with additional herbs or wine. Sauces include white, cheese, hollandaise, pepper, mushroom, and mustard.
For anyone out there thumbing their nose at powdered gravies and sauces, we can attest that while they’re not the same as a homemade version, our panellists were impressed by the taste of these products. The ones we tried all had good robust flavours.
Vegetarians get an added bonus, too – many of these gravies are meat-free, so can be used to add interest to vegetarian dishes.
What to look for
Many sauces and gravies are used to add flavour to our meals, rather than add any useful nutrients. So we need to ensure they’re not adding too much in the way of kilojoules, fat or sodium at the same time. It wasn’t difficult to find products to meet our kilojoule and fat guidelines, but we were disappointed with the amount of sodium in many products. If you need to watch your sodium intake, you will want to choose carefully and probably limit how often you use store-bought varieties.
A homemade white sauce adds a useful amount of calcium and a cheese sauce even more, but both will add a reasonable amount of fat (and kilojoules), and the cheese sauce will be high in both. Although the bought versions of these sauces may not add much calcium (it’s usually not listed), we found products which would be a lot lower in kilojoules and fat than anything you’re likely to make at home. And they tasted good, too.
Jazz up a packet gravy
Tips to make them think it’s homemade!
- Add a spoonful of whole grain mustard to a roast meat gravy to serve with roast beef.
- Add a dash of red wine and a grind of black pepper to onion gravy for lamb or beef.
- Add chopped fresh parsley and a grind of black pepper to cheese sauce.
- Add chopped sage and fresh rosemary to roast chicken gravy.