Invest in a good dog food cookbook.
Making your dog’s food isn’t just a matter of whipping up a little extra food at every meal; you want to serve the food groups in the correct proportions for your dog. Before you begin shopping for ingredients, you’ll also want to know which foods your dog should never eat.
Investing in a quality cookbook (or checking one out at your library) can provide recipes you rotate to keep your dog healthy and happy. A selection of recipes will also allow you to utilize fruits and vegetables that are in season—another way to stretch that food budget. Looking for a good dog food cookbook? We like The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats, by Andi Brown.
Invest in a slow cooker.
We love our slow cooker and purchased one just to prepare dog food. We bought ours on sale at the discount store, and it has paid for itself time and time again. Two nights a week, we toss in meat and vegetables and brown rice or other starch, simmering overnight. In the morning, we have dog food for the next three days to supplement the high-quality kibble we feed our two large dogs (we feed half kibble, half homemade.) If you have smaller dogs or just one dog, you’ll need to cook less often.
Watch for “last chance” fruits and meats.
If you make your own dog food and treats, keep an eye out for the overripe fruits and vegetables on sale at your grocery store. These foods which have reached their “best by” date can be great low-cost ingredients. You’ll want to use or freeze these purchases as soon as you get home.
Shop farmers’ markets.
Buying directly from the farmer helps to cut out the costs that go into processing, packaging, distributing and ultimately displaying the product at a grocery store. Locally grown produce is also an eco-friendly choice that’s delicious in addition to being inexpensive!
Also, you can save money by shopping a farmers’ market at the end of the day when farmers want to move the last of their goods. Buy in bulk and you can increase that savings. Don’t be afraid to ask farmers about bruised or damaged fruits and veggies they can’t sell—often they’re free for the asking (especially if you’re making another purchase!)
Buy organ meats.
The less desirable organ meats are inexpensive and make a good component to your dog’s diet. Serving four or five percent organ meat in your dog’s diet can benefit your pooch and your pocketbook. Our dogs love beef and chicken livers, kidneys, and beef heart, all easy on the budget.
If you don’t want to invest the time in cooking your dog’s food, making dog treats is also an excellent way to trim your budget and reward your dog with healthy, homemade goodness. These Chicken and Cheese Dog Biscuits are some of our dogs’ favorites and take only moments to prepare.
· 1-1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
· 3/4 cup chicken broth, divided
· 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice
· 1 cup whole wheat flour
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease two cookie sheets.
- Toss the chicken and just 1/2 cup of chicken broth in a blender or food processor and mix until it’s the consistency of baby food. Using a silicone baking scraper, scrape the chicken mixture into a large bowl.
- Add the flours and cheese and slowly add a teaspoon of broth at a time until you have dough the right consistency to knead. (The amount of broth you’ll need to add will vary by the moistness of the chicken.) The dough should be heavy but not too dry (that means you need more broth) or too sticky (that means you need more flour).
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll to about 1/4-inch thickness.
- Use cookie cutters and cut biscuits in desired shape, place on cookie sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Allow treats to cool completely before refrigerating the treats or serving.
© P. Permenter and J. Bigley
Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the founders of DogTipper.com, featuring tips for dog lovers by dog lovers. The husband-wife team are the authors of 28 published books including their latest, Barkonomics: Tips for Frugal Fidos.
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