Cost Savings: Homemade Dog Food Mix-In

My dog stinks.

Well, she doesn’t so much anymore, but there was a time when she was a stinky, farty dog that could clear an entire room in half a nanosecond. I realized it was the cheaper variety of dry dog food, primarily, and it would get especially bad if I mixed in some wet canned dog food as a treat (or to entice her to actually eat her dry food!).

I’ve been through a lot of brands of dog food, in different combinations and at increasing costs. When I first got her, I was dedicated to feeding only the “best” quality I could afford. She hated it. I reluctantly moved her to a traditional store-brand variety of dog food. Though she didn’t love it, she did love some of the pieces in it and would hunt them out and leave the rest in her bowl.

That was the point where I resorted to mixing in some wet food to get her to eat more of the dry food. O-M-G the stench that would silently escape from her body was enough to make us all want for personal gas masks. ICK! I can’t imagine she felt that great about it herself – it had to be wreaking havoc on her tummy and intestines to smell that bad when it escaped!

Fast forward to today: I’m back to buying a higher-quality, meat-based (usually chicken because she has an allergy to turkey), filler-free dry food. She’s not in love with it, but it seems to agree more with her digestive tract. She will still occasionally sneak the fattier, cheaper dry cat food as a snack – but that’s a whole other battle! For a while, I was using a popular brand of human-grade mix-in puree at the cost of almost $2 per “squeeze-y” tube — approximately 1-2 TBS of chicken and carrot variety with her dinner, beef and apple or beef and berry with her breakfast. She eats meals twice a day — usually around 5:30-6 am and 5:30-6 pm — with a snack bone or dental chew of some sort midday.

Recently, I’ve decided that I need to reduce costs a little and I’ve found that I can make a similar mix-in without really spending any additional money beyond our regular groceries.

The ingredients of the chicken variety of store-bought mix-in are: water, chicken, carrots, celery, brown rice, oatmeal and a vitamin E supplement. I haven’t bothered with the vitamin E, but the other ingredients are almost always on hand here!

We eat a lot of chicken and I tend to stock up when boneless, skinless breasts are on sale. Where I used to throw away all the trimmings from cleaning up the chicken breasts and cutting into serving portions and/or packets of diced/chunked chicken for soups, stews, salads and one-dish meals, I now toss them into a pot with some carrots, celery and water instead. I cook it on low-medium until the veggies are tender — sometimes I throw in a little brown rice or oatmeal near the end of the cooking time, but not always. After cooling for a few minutes,  I pour it into the blender and puree it.

The first couple times I simply refrigerated the puree, but bdogfoodcubesecause leftover cooked chicken is really only good 2-3 days in the fridge and this almost always makes more than I will use in that time period, I ended up throwing out a lot. I’ve now opted to pour the finished puree into ice cube trays, cover and freeze a few hours. Once they are solid, I pop them out into a plastic freezer bag and store it in the freezer.

This seems to be working out really well, as I just pull out a frozen cube of mix-in at mealtime, add a little bit of water and microwave it a few seconds to thaw so I can mix it easily into her dry food. The cubes seem to provide just the right amount (I was using up to 2 TBS of the “squeeze-y” tube stuff per meal). My dog *loves* it (and the cats are wanting in on the action now too)! So my dog is happy and eats the dry food that best agrees with her AND I’m saving a few extra bucks. It’s a win-win-win!

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