Dressings, sauces and marinades are some of the most highly processed products in the supermarket, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend all day in the kitchen making homemade versions of your favorites (thank goodness!). 

To keep your real-food lifestyle simple, here’s a little guide to help you decide which store-bought versions are real-food friendly and which you should pass on in favor of making from scratch yourself.  

What to look for when shopping for dressings, sauces and marinades  

Reading the ingredients list is the only way to know what's actually used to make that food and how to make an informed choice about your purchase. Along with ingredients that are clearly unrecognizable, here are some ingredients to avoid or, at least, minimize when shopping for dressings, sauces and marinades. You’ll find that many of these ingredients are standard in ultra-processed “food.” 

Avoid items made with:

  • Artificial sweeteners and refined sugars, like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) 
  • Vegetable oils: soy, corn, safflower, canola or cottonseed 
  • Hydrogenated oils or trans fats 
  • Artificial ingredients, coloring and dyes 
  • Unfamiliar ingredients 
  • Moderate to high amounts of sugar 

Making Your Own Dressings, Sauces and Marinades

Making your own dressings, sauces and marinades is a fantastic step toward making the real food swap in your home. It only takes a few minutes to make your favorites and they’ll typically keep for at least a week in the fridge, even longer in the freezer! 

Some of the benefits of making your own

  • Quick and really (really!) easy 
  • Eliminates the use of toxic, rancid oils; high fructose corn syrup; artificial dyes; synthetic preservatives and other icky ingredients  
  • Super cost-effective 
  • Tasty! 

If you can, always double or triple the recipe

If you’ve been around FULLforLife for any length of time, you know that we’re passionate about preparing real food in double batches and then storing the extra in the fridge or freezer for future meals, snacks, etc. Dressings, sauces and marinades are no different! 

If you’re making Teriyaki or Pesto Sauce this weekend, double or triple the recipe. Store the extra sauce in mason jars in the freezer to enjoy later in the month. This helps reduce the time you spend in the kitchen each week and makes real food possible, particularly when life is busy.  

Recipes to make

Dressings: (Best stored in the fridge) 

Sauces(Best stored in the fridge or freezer) 

While we believe that the majority of our diet should come from home-cooked foods made with simple ingredients, knowing when and how to sprinkle in store-bought real-food options to simplify our busy lives is equally as important.  

Remember, a real-food lifestyle DOES require some extra preparation time, but that DOESN'T mean you have to spend all day in the kitchen in order to make it work. Shop the aisles for simple, real-food alternatives to your homemade favorites. If you can’t find a suitable option, then get creative by combining ingredients in the kitchen to make your own! 

To learn more about real-food basics, check out the rest of our Healthy Staples


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