Affordable Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Tips
by Reader Contributors
You don’t need to be a gourmet to make both your pooch and your wallet happy. Just try some of these easy, inexpensive dog food recipes from our frugal readers.
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
We have a small dog. She doesn’t eat a lot, but she is particular. We can’t seem to train her to eat dry dog food. The food she likes is getting expensive. She’s willing to eat almost any table scraps.
Does anyone have a recipe for dog food that she’ll like and won’t cost me a lot? I don’t want to skimp on nutrition, but our grocery budget could use a little relief!
Affordable Homemade Dog Food Recipes
We asked our frugal readers to submit their best homemade dog food recipes and tips. See if some of these ideas can’t help you feed your dog for less.
Dog Food from Table Scrapes
I save table scrapes and freeze them. When I have about two to three cups, I make doggy food.
You will need:
2 cups brown rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 package mixed frozen peas with carrots
3 cups meat (process in food processor or cut into small bite size chunks)
Cook brown rice in chicken stock for 45 minutes according to package directions, but substitute stock for water.
When nearly done, add frozen peas and carrots and cook additional five to ten minutes until rice is done. Sometimes I have to add additional water/stock if rice starts to get too thick.
Add shredded chicken (or other meat to taste). You can even process this in food processer until bite size for your doggy.
Let this cool. I keep some in the fridge and freeze the remainder in simple zipper sandwich bags. Press flat and freeze. These stack really nice.
You can substitute different veggies and meat. I just use whatever is in the freezer. Doggies love it.
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Take Back the Control
This is not really the answer you were looking for, but I have a few things that might work. First, I used to show dogs, so I have some experience with them.
The first rule with dogs is that self-preservation will always win. I know it sounds cruel but think of your pet as a two-year-old child. As long as you keep giving in, your dog will not eat. Depending on your pet, it might take a day or two, but at some time, if all that is available is a bowl of kibble, he/she will give in and eat it.
Second, your pet will be healthier if fed a better quality food. Did you know that a high percentage of pets are allergic to corn? Or that you can tell how much nutrition your pet is getting from their food just by paying attention to how much poop they produce? Try to find a dog food where meat is the first ingredient, not byproduct or corn. Also, dry food is better for their teeth.
Lastly, soak dry food with water to make soft. You can even make gravy with low sodium broth and corn starch or run it through a food processor to make it look more like caned food. Keep in mind that most pets get an upset tummy when their food is changed too quickly, so it’s always best to mix a little of the new food with the old and slowly work up to the change.
Related: Cutting the Cost of Dog Food
Vet Recommended Homemade Dog Food
My dog, a lab, had allergies, so the vet told me to stop feeding him store bought food. She said to cook chicken (about a cup), rice (about four cups), and a bag of mixed veggies. I did this and put two cups of the mixture in zipper bags in the freezer. My dog ate it frozen, but you could thaw it.
Dawn P. Katy, TX
Dogs Love Meat Broth
Nearly any dog will eat food that’s in meat broth. You can buy bones cheaply at the store. Boil leftover chicken or beef bones for tasty broth, too. (Never feed your dog the bones!) Add some green beans or other vegetables and you’ll see the food disappear quickly! Broth and vegetables will dress up dry food to her liking.
Or, you could just leave the food for her and she’ll eat when she’s hungry enough. I don’t prefer this method, but there have been times when I’ve had to employ it. I recently saved the “juice” from my daughter-in-law’s pinto beans and poured it over the dry food. My dogs scarfed down that dry food like it was filet mignon!
Related: 14 Ways to Buy Produce for Less
Your Dog Will Love Your Cooking!
I also quit buying dog food because my Yorkie was so picky and I would end up throwing her food away. After looking online and researching what dogs can actually have, I started making my own.
I generally use leftover chicken breast, turkey, pot roast, or hamburger meat. I grind it in the food processor and add frozen carrots and peas with some chicken broth (homemade or store bought). Sometimes I add hard boiled eggs or a yam and even oatmeal or apple. I did buy a powdered vitamin at the pet store to make sure she is getting all the vitamins that she needs.
My little girl has not skipped a meal since I have been making homemade dog food. I measure her food into one cup containers and freeze. The only caution that I have is watch if she starts gaining weight because she will love your cooking. You can also order recipe books for dogs on Amazon.
Spoiled, Happy, and Healthy Pooch
I have the same problem with my 11-pound Chiweenie dog. She loves to eat what I eat, but she can’t always do that.
I end up stewing or baking a chicken for her, along with cooking brown rice and a sweet potato. I also fix broccoli or collards for her. I just give her a helping of a green vegetable along with the sweet potato and chicken and she gets along fine. She is healthy and active.
It’s easy to cook all the food one day and keep it refrigerated in the coldest part of my fridge. I sometimes freeze the chicken and thaw it out as she eats it. I do reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds because she likes her food warm. Is she spoiled? Yes! But, she is so worth it.
Lori’s Homemade Dog Food Recipe
2 lbs. meat (venison, boneless chicken, beef, salmon)
2 lbs. carrots (unpeeled, stems removed)
1 acorn squash (unpeeled, seeds removed)
Grease large roaster. Add chopped meat and veggies. Drizzle with olive oil. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or more. Meanwhile, cook 2 cups raw rice in 4 cups water. You may add oil, but not salt.
Allow meat and veggies to cool. Add 2 cans chopped beets (unsalted). Mix all together with 4 eggs and the cooked rice.
Grind in food mill or processor. Prepare to bake as meatloaves or meatball size portions. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour for meatloaves or 45 minutes for meatballs (adjust time accordingly to baking pan size). Divide food into portion size of choice and store in freezer until needed.
My 7-pound dog eats a 1/3 cup portion, 2 times per day (adjust serving portions accordingly).
oatmeal for rice
canned pumpkin for squash
You may add and subtract ingredients according to availability. Generally try to keep meat/veggies/rice proportions equal.
Your Dog Will Love You for It!
My dogs always preferred some homemade dog food mixed with their kibble, and the vet often told me, “Whatever you’re doing for her, keep doing it. Her coat is phenomenal and she is the healthiest old dog her age I have seen in a long time.” I used a well-greased crockpot and used either freezer burned meat, wild game (venison), skinless turkey or chicken on sale, shredded raw carrots or a bag of frozen peas and carrots and brown rice as the base. If you use freezer-burned ground beef, brown it partially and drain some of the fat first.
You can start with one cup of brown rice and two cups water, add the vegetables, a heaping spoonful of diced raw garlic from a jar, skinless meat on top, and barely cover with water. Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil and let it simmer on low for at least eight hours. Overnight is fine. Sometimes I would add one or two shredded broccoli stems, a box of finely diced frozen broccoli, or a big handful or two of finely diced kale or the last of some wilted (just getting past human-edible) raw spinach in the last hour or so.
Let it cool. Package it in containers or sandwich bags for a few days’ worth at a time and freeze. Warm a scoop in the microwave and stir into a small portion of kibble. Your dog will think you are the smartest, best human, ever.
Rotate Foods to Avoid Sensitivities
We feed our dogs a mixture of dry and wet foods. The dry is important to scrape teeth clean. For the wet, my husband makes a “casserole” with a meat, starch, and veggies, rotating so no sensitivities develop. We use chicken, lean ground beef, and salmon for meat. Pumpkin, carrots, green beans, and peas are healthy. We use brown rice, oats, or barley to hold it together.
There are recipes online or modify a human casserole recipe. Just be sure to research what is safe/not safe for dogs to eat. Best of all, we know what they’re getting! If your dog turns her nose up, give it time and do not go back to the old food and don’t give treats. She will eat before she starves.
Reviewed February 2023
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