Affordable Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Tips

In this article: Recipes from our frugal readers for turning “people” food into dog food without landing in the financial dog house

Homemade Dog Food photo

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 a safe, healthy diet for less.

Dog Food From Table Scraps

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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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. of Katy, TX

Bone Broth and Veggies

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.
R. Steele

Dog Food With the Food Processor

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 it. The only caution that I have is to watch if she starts gaining weight because she will love your cooking. You can also order recipe books for dogs on Amazon.
Diane B.

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Chicken and Brown Rice

I have the same problem with my 11-pound Chiweenie dog. She loves to eat what I eat but 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 in 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 a 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 a 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 according to baking pan size). Divide food into portion sizes of choice and store in freezer until needed.

My 7-pound dog eats a 1/3 cup portion two 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.

Dog Food in the Food Processor

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 of water, add the vegetables, 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.

A Doggie Casserole Recipe

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 2024

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