If you’re interested in preparing your own pet food, start by talking to your vet and researching the best nutritional mix for your own pet. There are great charts to be found online, as well, for serving amounts based on your pet’s age, weight and activity level.
Once you have a basic guideline worked out, the next step is to price and purchase ingredients. Buying in bulk and freezing is a great idea for this plan, as you can scout the sales and buy your proteins when they are cheapest. The same is true for some of your non-meat ingredients, like rice. Rice will store for a decent length of time in your pantry, but things like potatoes obviously have a semi-ticking clock and cannot be frozen well. Shop and cook accordingly.
Once you get started, you can cook in small batches or you can go big and freeze for future use. If you’re using frozen meals you’ve cooked previously, you’ll want to get them out of the freezer to thaw the night before, but if you’re using a recently-made refrigerated meal, you can just warm it slightly in the microwave or leave it on the counter for a couple of hours to warm to room temperature before you feed your pet. You can always mix in a little water when serving to slow down their scarfing of lunch.
Some other pet food tips: rethink feeding them table scraps. Meats and veggies are fine, but sugary and carbohydrate-filled products are not good for them. If you want to give dogs treats for training or rewards, small pieces of cheese work great, as well as pieces of hard-boiled eggs. If you include eggs in recipes or treats for dogs, feel free to leave the shells on. They are full of nutrients and great for their digestion. Other treats that dogs enjoy are small amounts of peanut butter and jerky. (I recommend buying the jerky made for people. It probably has better ingredients and a cheaper price.) Cats also love dried proteins, as well as little bits of tuna or sardines.
Below you’ll find a basic cat food and a basic dog food recipe. They are but the tip of the iceberg. You can stay with basic or get as fancy and into it as you choose. There are many research sites and recipes to be found online to use as guidelines or inspiration, but make sure you’re monitoring health and weight, as well as keeping in contact with your vet to make sure your pet is thriving. Good luck! Your fur baby will appreciate it.
BASIC CAT FOOD RECIPE
Combine in a food processor:
3 ounces of a cooked protein: tuna, beef, pork, eggs, tuna or chicken
1/3 cup of a complex carbohydrate: oatmeal, barley, cooked white rice or peas
1/5 cup of fiber: cooked sweet potato, without the skin
1/4 tsp. fat (optional): vegetable oil, olive oil, or fish oil
2.7 grams or half a scoop of a supplemental powder called Balance IT Feline. This is a commercial blend of vitamins and minerals that will ensure your cat is getting everything they need.
Makes one day’s amount of food for a 10-13 lb. cat without health issues. Make sure all ingredients are well blended before serving. The food must be kept refrigerated or frozen between meals.
BASIC DOG FOOD RECIPE
Combine in a food processor:
1½ cups complex carbohydrate like brown rice, cooked
3 pounds cooked protein like ground turkey, beef or chicken
1 T. olive oil
3 cups chopped spinach, cooked until wilted
2 medium carrots, shredded
Half of a medium zucchini, shredded
½ cup cooked peas
You can warm the spinach and other veggies in a pan before mixing to quicken the process which will make the vegetables more chewable. This will make about 8 cups total. Divide the final product into serving sizes for your own dog and freeze or refrigerate based on when you’ll need them.
Miranda Beverly is the front-end manager and marketing coordinator at Maple City Market in downtown Goshen.