Guide to Preparing Homemade Dog Food on a Budget


Finding the right food for your pup can be challenging, especially when sticking to a budget. With today’s inflationary pressures, people are looking for more healthy and economical ways to feed their dogs.

We’ll discuss the benefits of making your own pet meals, how to make them with vet-approved recipes, and more – including the pros and cons of cooked vs. raw diets and the addition of supplements.

Plus, we’ll compare homemade costs versus commercial costs so that you can make an informed decision about what’s best for both your wallet and furry friend.

So if this sounds like something that interests you, dive into our guide to preparing homemade dog food on a budget.

Table of Contents:

Benefits of Homemade Dog Food

Homemade dog food has many benefits for both you and your pup. From health to cost savings, there are plenty of reasons why it’s worth considering making your own meals for your four-legged friend.

I have been making my own homemade dog food for years now. Gem (my 9-month-old Blue Heeler) and Opal (my three-year-old Pug) go nuts over their homemade food.

I started making homemade food when I had a dog with liver disease. I consulted with a holistic vet and nutritionist, who gave me a recipe to try. It saved my dog’s life.

Gem and Opal. ©2023Prescott Voice

The vet explained to me the problems with commercial kibble and processed dog foods. When I researched commercially processed dog food in more detail, I was shocked to learn what is actually in the food. I never spent another penny on commercial dog food.

Making your own dog food may seem intimidating at first. It’s mostly just common sense and making sure your recipe has all the protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals that a dog needs for a healthy life.

Health Benefits:

Homemade dog food is healthier than commercial options because you can control the ingredients that go into it.

You can opt for proteins such as lean meats, fish, and eggs, beneficial fats like olive oil or coconut oil, and fish oil.

Vegetables and fruits like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, green beans, potatoes, kale, apples, and blueberries are great options.

By bypassing additives and artificial, synthetic flavors in certain store-bought edibles, you can guarantee that your four-legged friends obtain a nourishing meal each time they consume.

Nutritional Benefits:

Making homemade dog food allows you to tailor the diet to meet the specific needs of your pet based on their age, size, activity level, and breed type.

If your pet has any sensitivities or allergies, you can easily avoid them when creating their meals at home, which makes homemade dog food a great option for customizing to meet individual needs.

For a nutritionally balanced meal for my dogs, I add supplements like omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics that help support overall health depending on the animal’s needs.

Preparing homemade meals for dogs often costs less than buying pre-made products from stores, as there are no added processing fees associated with them, helping to keep expenses down over time.

Using fresh produce further reduces costs while providing essential vitamins and minerals in a balanced diet plan for pets. I never used canned vegetables or fruit in my dog food recipes as they are often loaded with sodium, sugar, and other ingredients that aren’t good for your dog.

Fresh is always best. However, some frozen vegetables and fruits are okay if you can’t find fresh ones. Just be sure there are no added salt or sugars.

You should never add any seasonings to your dog food recipes.

Creating your own canine chow can be a cost-effective and convenient way to give your dog healthy meals. With the proper components and safety precautions, you can quickly whip up yummy dishes for your canine companion.

Let’s explore how to make homemade dog food next.

Key Takeaway: Creating your own canine cuisine can be a great way to provide tailored nutrition while also saving money on costly processing fees.

How to Make Homemade Dog Food

Creating your own canine cuisine is an excellent way to save cash while supplying your dog with the necessary nourishment. Prepare tasty, nourishing dishes for your canine companion using just a few basic components. Here’s what you need to know about making homemade dog food.

Ingredients Needed:

The main ingredient in any homemade dog food recipe should be a high-quality protein such as chicken, beef, turkey, or fish. Beef is pretty pricey these days, but occasionally you can find a sale on ground beef.

Organ meats are excellent for dogs. My husband is a hunter, so I will use the not-so-popular cuts of venison (in other words, the cuts I don’t like) for my dog food recipes. I make sure my husband brings home the organ meat from the kill so I can grind it, package it and freeze it.

Has anyone priced organ meats lately that are sold online? Holy cow! They are pricey. So if you know a hunter, let them know you would like the organ meat they will never eat–liver, lungs, everything. It’s an excellent protein for your dogs, and they will love it. I  promise you.

For those who don’t have game meat, I find that chicken thighs are the best bang for your buck and provide the fat the dogs need from the skin. I feed two-part boneless skinless chicken thighs and one-part skin-on boneless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are frequently found on sale, which is a money saver. I always stock up when I see a deal.

I also include in my recipe a few ounces each of chicken livers, hearts, and gizzards which provide essential minerals like Vitamins A, B, B1, B12, and K, selenium, amino acid cysteine, manganese. Adding organ meats to your dog’s diet also helps maintain a nice shiny coat.

You will also want to include some carbohydrates like white enriched rice (which I use), brown rice, or oats for energy and fiber. Rice works best for my dogs, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are okay, but I find they pack on the weight.

As mentioned above, fruits and vegetables, like carrots, sweet taters, apples, blueberries, spinach, and broccoli florets are all vital for vitamins and minerals. Finally, don’t forget healthy fats like olive oil or coconut oil, which help keep skin and coat healthy.

Start by prepping the ingredients; cut fruits/veggies into small pieces, then cook proteins until they reach an internal temp of 165°F (74°C). When chopping apples, be absolutely sure you remove the seeds as they are toxic to dogs. It is not necessary to peel the apple as it will be cooked.

Chopping veggies and fruit by hand is tedious. A food processor or a food grinder is best for a more even chop and these appliances make dog food recipe preparation a breeze.

So here’s my biggest time-saving tip: Use a meat or food grinder. I use my Kitchen-Aid mixer with the grinding attachment. I grind the fruits and vegetables first, then the meat. Then throw everything into my Ninja Foodi pressure cooker. This process makes it almost effortless.

From start to finish, all-in takes about 45 minutes. Once you’ve done it a few times, it’s like clockwork.

Once cooked thoroughly (but not overcooked), combine all ingredients in a large bowl before transferring the mixture into storage containers or meal prep trays lined with parchment paper or wax paper so it doesn’t stick when frozen later on.

Another time saving tip: I cook the rice first in the pressure cooker and then remove it to a large bowl to cool. Then I transfer the meat, veggies, and fruit to the pressure cooker and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes with immediate pressure release.

I make roughly 10 pounds of food every week. It doesn’t last long enough to freeze it. Remember, I have a 9-month-old Blue Heeler puppy. She requires a higher caloric intake until she is an adult, so she is fed a healthy amount (20 ounces per day).

Those that have Pugs can relate to their weight gain issues. My Pug is fed 10 ounces per day (she’s getting a little pudgy, so it’s time to cut back on her feedings a bit.) It’s not healthy for them to get so fat.


Ziploc bags are pricey these days, so I get as much use out of them as possible. I will freeze the food in Ziploc bags when I make a double batch. It makes it easy, and I can reuse the bags by washing and sterilizing them in the top rack of the dishwasher, saving money on packaging.

It is essential to store any unused portions of homemade dog food properly to prevent spoilage or contamination from bacteria growth due to improper storage temperatures (refrigerate below 40°F/4°C).

If freezing leftovers, portion out individual servings so that each one can be thawed quickly without having to defrost more than needed at once – this helps maintain freshness longer.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meats and utensils used during the preparation process before moving on to other tasks around the kitchen area. I have two cutting boards, one for my veggies and one for my meats.

I use a lot of greens in my dog food recipe–mainly chopped spinach. I freeze the spinach so it is a breeze to chop—another huge time saver.

Creating your own doggy grub can be a straightforward and money-saving means of furnishing Fido with nutritious nosh.

Now, let’s explore a vet-approved recipe I use for homemade dog food that will keep your pup happy and healthy.

Key Takeaway: Homemade dog food is a great way to save money while providing your pup with the nutrition they need; just remember to store it properly and wash your hands after handling raw meats.

Vet-Approved Recipes for Homemade Dog Food

Cooked Recipes:

Preparing cooked recipes for your dog can be a great way to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need. Start by selecting lean meats such as chicken, turkey, beef, or venison, and combine them with healthy grains like white or brown rice or oats.

Veggies like carrots, peas, and yams can be included for extra nourishment and minerals. Make sure to cook all ingredients thoroughly before serving.

I do not use a raw diet for my dogs though I have friends that do. To ensure that my cooked homemade food recipes are nutritionally balanced, I use the “Just Food For Dogs,” DIY formula.

Chicken & Rice Recipe. ©2023Prescott Voice

There are several other good supplements on the market, like BalanceIT. Still, I find the DIY Just Food For Dogs program easy to follow, and the recipes included with their supplements are developed by veterinarians. I recommend adding Just Food For Dogs Omega Plus Fish Oil to your homemade dog food.

The recipe I make regularly is the Chicken & White Rice recipe which includes the following ingredients:

1.4 lbs. of skin-on boneless chicken thighs
2.4 lbs. of skinless boneless chicken thighs
5 oz. chicken liver
6 oz. chicken gizzards
8 oz. spinach
8 oz. carrots
8 oz. apples
24 oz. of white-enriched rice (will yield about 8 to 10 cups when cooked)
5 1/4 tablespoons of Just Food For Dogs DIY Supplement
2 teaspoons of Just Food For Dogs Omega Plus Fish Oil

This recipe is simple and the ingredients are easy to source. The recipe yields about 10 lbs. of food. This will be enough to feed a small dog for several weeks or more.,

Raw Recipes:

Raw diets offer many benefits, including increased nutrient absorption due to their natural enzymes not being destroyed in the cooking process. To make a raw recipe, start by selecting lean meats such as chicken, turkey, or beef and combining them with fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, and spinach.

Eggs can also be added for additional protein. All ingredients should be washed thoroughly before feeding your pup their meal.

Incorporating dietary additions to your pup’s home-cooked cuisine is a simple means of guaranteeing they obtain the necessary nutrients daily.

Including omega-3s to assist joint health, probiotics for digestion aid, glucosamine for skeletal fortification, and vitamins A & E in sustaining overall well-being in canines of any age are some regular supplements one could add to home-cooked dishes.

Navigating the transition to a home-prepared diet for your canine companion may seem daunting, yet with vet-recommended recipes and advice; you can quickly discover an economical, nutritious option.

Next, let’s explore the pros and cons of cooked vs. raw diets for dogs.

Pros and Cons of Cooked vs. Raw Diets for Dogs

Cooked and raw diets are two primary options when it comes to nourishing your pup. Each has its pros and cons that should be considered before making a decision.

Nutritional Differences:

Cooked diets typically contain more carbohydrates than raw diets, which can lead to weight gain in some dogs.

Cooked dishes often contain preservatives or components which may not supply the same nutritional worth as fresh elements present in raw diets, presenting a contrast to carbohydrate-rich cooked foods.

Raw diets can provide your pup with essential nutrients such as calcium and omega-3s, naturally derived from fresh ingredients.

Digestive Differences:

Raw food requires extra chewing due to its texture compared to cooked food which can make digestion easier for some dogs who have difficulty breaking down more challenging pieces of kibble or canned food.

However, this also means that bacteria from uncooked meat could potentially cause digestive issues if not appropriately handled during preparation or storage.

Cooked diets are generally easier on sensitive stomachs since they’re already broken down into smaller pieces but may lack certain nutrients found in their raw counterparts.

Cost is another factor when considering a diet for your pet because both types of meals come with different price tags depending on the quality of ingredients used in each recipe.

Generally, commercial brands offering pre-made cooked meals tend to be more expensive than homemade recipes using fresh ingredients for a balanced meal plan; however, purchasing individual cuts of meat for a DIY approach can also add up quickly over time.

Cooking your dog’s food can provide a balanced diet and is often more cost-effective. However raw diets may offer better nutrition and easier digestion.

Now that you know the pros and cons of cooked vs. raw diets for dogs, let’s look at how to add supplements to homemade dog food for optimal health.

Key Takeaway: A conclusion to be drawn is that both cooked and raw diets have their advantages and drawbacks, thus necessitating a thorough examination of these facets before settling on an option. Moreover, the cost may be a factor when deciding what diet to feed your pet, with commercial brands typically being pricier than homemade recipes.

Adding Supplements to Homemade Dog Food

When mulling over the notion of incorporating supplements into homemade canine cuisine, a few factors should be taken into account.

First, what type of supplement should you add? As mentioned above, I use Just Food For Dogs DIY supplements.

Common supplements for dogs include omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids can help support healthy skin and coat as well as joint health.

Probiotics promote beneficial gut bacteria and aid in the digestion of nutrients, while vitamins and minerals are necessary for sustaining a pet’s health.

Next, how much of each supplement should be added? This will depend on the size of your dog as well as their age and activity level.

Pups may necessitate a higher dosage of omega-3 fatty acids than mature canines, considering their accelerated development rate.

Just Food For Dogs Supplements. 

It is wise to consult with your vet prior to administering any dietary supplements, so as to guarantee the amount given is suited to your pet’s particular requirements.

Finally, are there any risks associated with adding supplements?

Most dietary supplements are usually good when employed correctly. However, bear in mind that they may interact with other treatments or drugs. So it’s always a good idea to talk with your vet first if you have any questions.

Additionally, some people prefer not to give certain types of supplementation such as glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate due to possible allergic reactions in some pets, so this too should be discussed with your vet prior to starting a new supplement regimen for your pup.

Adding supplements to homemade dog chow can assist in ensuring your furry friend gets the correct nourishment, however, it’s essential to do so cautiously and vigilantly.

Now let’s look at the costs of preparing homemade dog food versus buying commercial products.

Homemade vs Commercial Costs for Dog Food

Ingredients Costs:

Making homemade dog food is generally cheaper than buying commercial options. If you shop at Costco, as I do, you can save a lot of money. I can buy rice in the 20 lb. bag which is a huge saving over supermarkets. I look for sales and am surprised at how little I am spending while making my dogs a nutritious and delicious meal that is 100% fresh ingredients.

There’s a lot of love put into every recipe I make. It is an enjoyable and satisfying thing to do for my dogs and I know they appreciate it. Every morning and evening they remind me vociferously that it’s time for their meal.

The price of ingredients for a self-prepared dinner may differ based on the kind and quality of ingredients used (I don’t typically buy organic unless there is one heck of a sale), yet generally do not cost as much as buying pre-made dinners from the store or from fresh pet food vendors like Farmer’s Dog, for example.

Just Food For Dogs also has a line of fresh food that can be purchased and shipped to you, but again, it’s considerably more expensive. Farmer’s Dog also has a DIY supplement that can be purchased and added to your homemade dog food.

For example, a pound of ground beef may cost around $5 while a can of wet dog food could be upwards of $3 or more per can.

Should you opt for organic or premium-grade components, expenses could climb slightly yet stay beneath the majority of shop-bought pet foods.

Time Costs:

Preparing homemade meals takes time and effort that must be factored into the overall cost equation when considering whether to make your own pet’s food at home or purchase it commercially.

The amount of time necessary to create a homemade dish may range from a quarter of an hour up to, or surpassing, one hour depending on the complexity and your available schedule. It takes me about 45 minutes from start to finish but factoring in the adoring love and appreciation your dogs will have for you, it’s priceless–well worth the time and effort.

Equipment Costs:

In addition to ingredient costs and time spent cooking meals for your pup, there are also equipment costs associated with making homemade dog food that should be taken into consideration before committing to this option.

You’ll need basic kitchen items such as pots and pans as well as specialized tools like grinders for grinding meat or food processors for chopping or pureeing vegetables if desired.

These items may already exist in your kitchen but if not they will need to be purchased separately which adds additional expense to the overall cost equation when comparing homemade vs commercial options for feeding your fur babies.

In the end, it’s a matter of individual inclination contingent upon one’s particular situation. Before settling on a choice, it is essential to explore all your options.

Key Takeaway: Creating your own pup grub can be less expensive than purchasing pre-made food, however you must account for the added effort and any related expenses when selecting which route is best for you.

FAQs in Relation to Comprehensive Guide on Preparing Homemade Do Food on a Budget

Can it be cheaper to make your own dog food?

Yes, creating your own canine cuisine can be less expensive than purchasing pre-made kibble. It may be more economical to create your own canine cuisine than to purchase pre-prepared meals from the shop.

Whipping up your own dog food provides the opportunity to tailor-make a nutrition plan for your furry companion, enabling you to be certain of what’s going into their diet.

You also wield the power to determine what goes into your pup’s meals, granting you insight as to precisely what sustenance they are receiving.

Making homemade meals can help reduce waste since you are only using what’s necessary for each meal. With a little bit of research and planning, it’s possible to create healthy and delicious meals that will save money in the long run.

What is the cheapest way to make dog food?

Creating your own canine cuisine is the most economical method to guarantee that your pup receives a balanced diet. Mixing up some oats, veg, and lean meats can be a great way to make sure your pup gets the nutrition they need at an affordable price.

Start by cooking the oats in water until they are soft and then add chopped vegetables like carrots or broccoli.

Then add cooked lean meat such as chicken or turkey for protein. Mix everything together and serve it warm or cold depending on your pet’s preference. With this method, you can make sure that your pup has a healthy diet without breaking the bank.

How do I make sure my homemade dog food has enough nutrients?

It is important to ensure that your homemade dog food has the right balance of nutrients.

Analyze your pup’s nutritional requirements and any health problems it may have, based on its breed and age.

Think about incorporating an assortment of components, such as lean meats, eggs, veggies, fruits, grains, and dairy products.

Make sure to include sources of essential fatty acids like fish oil or flaxseed oil for healthy skin and coat. Additionally, add supplements such as vitamins and minerals to make sure all nutrient requirements are met.

Finally, if you feel the need, always consult with a veterinarian before making changes in your pet’s diet for optimal health benefits.

What should be the main ingredient in homemade dog food?

Homemade dog food should include a balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Proteins can come from lean meats such as chicken or fish, while carbohydrates can be found in grains like oats or brown rice. Fats are important for energy and skin health; sources include olive oil or flaxseed oil.

Vitamins and minerals are crucial for good health, so make sure to include them in your pup’s diet with products such as carrots or apples. Finally, it’s important to make sure that all ingredients are fresh to ensure the best nutrition for your pup.


Creating your own pet food can be a savvy and nutritious way to feed your four-legged friend. A homemade diet is far and away a better option than feeding commercial dog food.

With this comprehensive guide on preparing a homemade dog food diet on a budget, you now have all the information you need to make an informed decision about what type of diet is best for your pup.

From discussing the benefits of homemade dog food vs commercial food, providing vet-approved recipes, exploring cooked and raw diets, adding supplements, and comparing costs – this guide has it all. So why not give it a try? You could discover that creating your own canine chow is simpler than you envisioned.

Let us show you how easy it can be to prepare delicious homemade dog food on a budget.

About the author

Hi, I'm Teri Franks, the voice behind Prescott Voice. I've spent years immersing myself in all that Prescott has to offer, and I love sharing the unique stories and experiences I've discovered. When I'm not writing, you'll find me exploring Prescott's trails or tasting our local cuisine. I believe that the vibrant lifestyle here in Prescott inspires us to live a healthier, happier life. Come join me on this exciting journey as we explore Prescott together.

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