Dog food - cooking your way to big savings

11 October 2010
It's been a wild and woolly weekend here with a lot of rain and wind. Our rain gauge overflowed so I'm not sure how much we got but Shane told me the TV news reported we got around 250mm, that's about 10 inches. It's been raining non-stop overnight, I reckon the rain gauge would be close to full again. I emptied it on Saturday morning. We just have to watch the creek which has been rising steadily for about a week now. With the rain, the temperatures dropped again so I'm back into winter clothes and rugged up in my cardigan and slippers.

It was good to be able to stay indoors and be productive and relatively busy. I've been sewing and making soap, and on Saturday I made a batch of dog food for Alice. It's a cheap and easy way to feed a dog good wholesome food and if you haven't tried our recipe for dog food and you have a dog, please try it. I'm sure your dog will love you for it.

We buy 1kg/2.2lbs of mince from the local butcher and add to it whatever vegetables we're growing or what we have in the fridge, but make sure you never give your dog onions or leeks. You could also use fish or chicken with the bones removed. The only other ingredients are some carbohydrates in the form of rice - 2 cups, and pasta - 2 cups, and I added a tablespoon of Vegemite, but you could replace that with peanut butter. It's just for flavouring so if you have neither the Vegemite nor the peanut butter, leave it out.

This time I used carrots, green beans, zucchini and swiss chard.

Use a large stockpot that will hold around 9 litres/quarts of water. Fill the stockpot to three-quarters full and add the meat. Break up the meat with your spoon and then stir in the Vegemite/peanut butter. Chop up all the vegetables, add them and the rice and pasta and stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes. You have to make sure all the vegetables are soft as the dog might have problems digesting vegetables not fully cooked.

I store the food in portion-sized, plastic containers, and freeze them. The containers hold two cups. I make 12 containers, enough for 24 days. Alice eats half of one container a day, but you'd have to gauge the amount you feed your dog. It will depend on their size and weight. Alice is an Airedale, a medium sized dog and she's old. She also has breakfast.

It costs us about four dollars for the meat and maybe two dollars if we were to buy the vegetables, another one dollar for the rice, pasta, Vegemite or peanut butter and we've got a nourishing meal that our dogs love and I'm sure most others would as well. And again, we take control of the ingredients so we're not getting contaminants in the food we give our pets.

The closest I could find our food to do a price comparison was the 680 gram can of Supercoat dog food casserole (chicken vegetables and rice) for $3.18 at Woolworths. My guess is we would get two feeds for Alice from one can. So for 24 days, the canned dog food would cost us $38.16. or $1.59 per day. For 24 days of the home cooked dog food, if costs us $7, or 30 cents per day. One year's supply of the canned dog food would cost us $580.35 per year; one year's supply of the home cooked dog food costs $110. This is a saving of $470.35 per year. Alice is 13 years old so that saving for us in her lifetime, so far, is $6115. I would much rather have that money in my pocket than in the hands of a huge corporation. It proves once again that these small steps, the steps that only take us a bit of time and effort, can help us live well without buying into the convenience food market. You might not have thought of canned dog food as convenience food, but that is what it is. Minor adjustments could have your dog eating home cooking, which will keep him/her healthy and well nourished for many years. I wonder how much we've saved on vet bills in that time. Hmmmmm.