It’s no secret that keeping sugar and carbs at bay is tough, especially when you’re pressed for time and dealing with a bare-bones pantry. But as long as you’ve got a box of pasta (or a zucchini and a spiralizer, if you’re really going for it) and one of these seven low-carb spaghetti sauce jars on hand, a healthy, filling, and speedy dinner is well within reach. The store-bought ilk might get a bad rap, sure, but remember—what Nonna doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
Equal parts silky and chunky, this grocery store go-to gets its fresh, well-balanced taste from bright San Marzano tomatoes, specks of herby basil, and a potent blend of white and black pepper. And with just 35 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and 1—yes, 1—gram of sugar per half cup, what’s not to love?($11.39; jet.com)
Care for a little heat? Try a jar of this small-batch, no-sugar-added arrabbiata, which gets its signature kick from the addition of fiery red peppers. In addition to imported olive oil, these guys also throw in some basil, onions, garlic, Mediterranean sea salt, and tomatoes—all fresh—before slow simmering to perfection. The resulting antioxidant-rich pasta-topper has a lively bite and comes in at 80 calories, 4 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of sugar per serving.
Undoubtedly one of the most soulful options on the shelf, this seven-ingredient sauce skips fillers like water and tomato paste for 100-percent real Italian tomatoes, garlic, basil, onions, sea salt, and spices, and still manages to pack just 6 grams of carbs and 4 grams of sugar. Consider your zoodle game drastically improved.($4.99; target.com)
All hail Rao’s! The Bronx mobster hangout-turned-supermarket bestseller has been crushing the grocery game for years now. It brings its expertly crafted, all-Italian tomato gravies to those of us unable to secure a private table at the real-deal 114th street restaurant. This vodka sauce, which incorporates Parmesan, Romano, and vodka to the standard marinara mix, is as creamy and flavorful as can be—quite a feat considering it’s working with 80 calories, 4 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of sugar.
Exceptionally smooth and loaded with organic herbs, spices, veggies, and cheese, this hearty, no-sugar-added original not only tastes great, it coats spaghetti like a dream. And despite a healthy dose of satisfyingly nutty Parm, you’re taking in a mere 80 calories, 7 grams of carbs, and 4 grams of sugar with each satisfying half cup.
Another restaurant offshoot, the Meatball Shop’s slow-simmered packaged brand aptly lives up to its New York City mini-chain reputation. Whole peeled Italian tomatoes, fresh onions, garlic, oregano, bay leaves, and a dash of chili flakes join forces inside the jar, producing a velvety, slightly smoky, and refreshingly tangy sauce with 70 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of sugar. We recommend enjoying this one with, you guessed it, meatballs.($16.00 for 2; themeatballshop.com)
Zesty white pepper, earthy kale, and sun-ripened, subtly sweet plum tomatoes alongside a thin yet sturdy texture make this organic number the most versatile and wholesome of the bunch. Aside from the regular noodle routine, it’s also great for pizza, lasagna, casseroles, and even chili. No matter what you’re making, with 4 grams of carbs and 4 grams of sugar, an extra serving might be in your future.($24.00 for 3; organicobello.com)