Last week, I promised (in my post on cutting done on pet expenses) that you could slice into your premium-quality pet food expenses by simply cooking at home. But that’s not exactly true...not always...and not in the up-front way you might most like to see your money saved.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t save lots of money by making your own pet food.
- Compared to super-premium bags, cans or pouches of food, homemade diets can be as expensive (or more) to make at home. When you’re paying $60-$70 for a 30-pound bag, you’ll probably find that you’re breaking even on a homemade approach that utilizes the same proportions of proteins and carbohydrates.
- For therapeutic (AKA, "prescription" diets), you’ll often save even more. This is because so-called prescription diets can be as pricey as $100 for a 30-pound bag or $4-$6 for a small can! Consider, however, that you’ll need to see a nutritionist (or consult with one over the phone) before you can get started. (For basic, well-pet diets, these can generally be had through your veterinarian.)
- The expense comes in through the proteins. The meats are where your money goes. But you can still save big, especially if you learn to share like they taught you in kindergarten. Get together with some friends and buy a side of bison or beef to freeze (and maybe share expenses for freezer time). Buy some extra venison from a hunting neighbor––or extra fish from your favorite fishing freak. Sale on frozen post-Thanksgiving turkeys? Go for it!
- Buy in bulk. As for most commodities, big orders usually mean big savings. Check and see if a freezer isn’t in your future. Stop at farm stands and negotiate on bulk sales. Drive right to the farms and develop relationships (I think this is fun, anyway).
- Tell your butcher, your grocer, your friends and family that you’re making your own pet food and you’d like to hear about any bulk specials, unpopular cuts, unsold veggies or extra foods they might have on hand. They’ll often bend over backwards for pet people.
- Mine your fridge and pantry every week for leftovers or "must-go’s" you can use to substitute for ingredients your recipe requires. Softening (but still-edible potatoes), pasta that’s starting to stale, the leftovers of that chicken dinner you know you won’t get to before it’s time to toss it? Don’t compost––not yet––include them in your pet food instead.
- Finally, the most important one: Consider that feeding pets healthy ingredients sourced from human-grade products using recipes tailored to your pet’s individual needs can make a huge difference to your pet’s health. And how much will that save you in the long run?
Now that you’ve got the basics, get to it.
Image: Mat Hayward / Shutterstock