Cooking for your dog. That sounds like such a fancy schmancy thing to do, but more and more people seem to be doing it. I have lots of friends that have dogs with allergies, sensitive stomachs, and controlling what goes into their dog’s body really seems to help. We have a whippet named Neo and at least 50% of his daily diet has been comprised of homemade dog food his whole life. Though his vet checkups and blood work have always come back healthy, I’ve never been sure if my homemade dog food recipe is balanced. Cause honestly… I don’t know what I’m doing… lol. Now that he’s 10-years-old, I really want to make sure that he’s getting the right amount of vitamins he needs. Our little cutie pie has to stay around for a long, long time :)
One day I was researching (just a fancy word for googling) homemade dog food recipes and stumbled upon Just Food For Dogs. Just Food For Dogs is the world’s first dog kitchen. They have 4 locations in Southern California where they cook human grade food for dogs. You can purchase them at their stores or have it delivered to your door. The coolest option I think they offer, is that you can purchase their nutrient packets and make the exact same food they serve in your own home. John from Food For Dogs was gracious enough to send me a few complimentary packets to try. So come along with me as I shoot the process of cooking Just Food For Dogs DIY Beef and Russet Potato recipe at home.
After a quick trip to Ralphs and Dollar Tree (you’ll see why later), I’m home with all of the ingredients. As you can see, all of the food is human grade and you can buy it at any local grocery store. They do recommend that you purchase most of the ingredients fresh, and only one or two items frozen. I couldn’t find fresh peas so frozen will have to do.
The Beef and Russet Potato recipe calls for 5 lbs of 85/15 lean ground beef. It’s very important to buy specifically 85/15 beef because you leave the fat that cooks out of the beef in the final product. That means that any other type of ground beef you purchase will alter the nutritional value of the food.
Each packet of nutrient blend they ship you contains 3 separate foil packets. That equals to 3 batches of dog food. It also includes a list of ingredients you need to purchase, information on why each ingredient is chosen for their recipe, and cooking instructions. If you are curious to see what it says or lost it somehow, you can still get the information online on their pdf.
Before you start chopping up the ingredients, it’s very important to scrub each vegetable thoroughly. The peels are left on so it’s important to scrub, scrub, scrub. Here I am showing you how to scrub a big potato with a small potato… ahahaah. That’s the vegetable scrubber that makes me laugh every time I open our cutlery drawer. It’s all about the little things in life…. lol
Here’s a sexy shot of all of the scrubbed vegetables getting their final rinse.
After rinsing, you begin the dicing process. I have terrible knife skills so I’m sure you’ll do much better. If you have a small dog, feel free to dice everything up in to much smaller pieces. No need to buy “small bites” dog food because you control the size!
2.5 ounces of Green or Red Apples (no seeds). One very important thing you do need to have before you begin cooking is a kitchen scale. Since each recipe is designed as a balanced meal, the amount of each ingredient is very important. I’m using a simple scale I bought off of Amazon (affiliate link) that cost $19.95. I’ve had it for almost 2 years and it’s still working perfectly.
5 ounces of Carrots. I will definitely chop these up much smaller next time… lol. I told you.. terrible knife skills.. ahaha
5 ounces of Green Beans
2.5 ounces of Green Peas. The recipe pamphlet recommends that you finely chop the peas but I didn’t. Perhaps chopping them up will help with digestion… I’ll have to keep an eye out and see if there are any whole peas left in Neo’s poops :( *1 week feeding update: Yes we’ve found whole peas in Neo’s poops. Make sure you chop your peas hahahha.
3 lbs 8 ounces of Russet Potatoes, diced with the skin left on.
1 lb 14 ounces (or 1.875 lb on my scale) of Sweet Potatoes, diced with the skin left on.
2.5 ounces of Beef Liver. I took this photo before I diced it up. I believe you could ask your local butcher to grind it, but I just chopped it myself. Mmmm… so fleshy and raw… lol
5 lbs Lean Ground Beef 85/15
5 tbsp Safflower Oil or 70 grams. It’s very important that you add the oil in after the food has been cooked. This way the heat doesn’t damage the good properties in the oil.
On the left I have a big pan with the beef and livers cooking. On the right is a big pot of water for the potatoes.
Make sure you use a nonstick pan to cook the meat. Since you aren’t adding any oils during the cooking process, you don’t want the meat to stick.
Here are all of the vegetables and safflower oil you use in the recipe. So colorful!
When the meats are cooked and just slightly pink, add in the carrots, green beans, peas, and apples.
Cook until the meat is fully cooked and the vegetables are soft. Looking pretty delicious! Kind of reminds me of a shepherd’s pie.
You see all that juice from the vegetables and fat from the meat? You leave all of that goodness in. This is why it’s important to get the 85/15 beef. It provides just the perfect amount of oil from the beef.
Of course while the beef was cooking, the water began to boil and I added in the potatoes. It took about 15 minutes to cook. If you cut your potatoes much smaller than I did, it may only take you 10 minutes for it to cook through.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and let cool to the touch.
Once everything has cooled down to just slightly above room temperature, I mixed the potatoes, meat, and vegetables together. Since I didn’t have a single bowl big enough, I had to mix it in two bowls. These are large Ikea stainless steel bowls.
You know what I’m doing here… I’m getting ready to taste it. Yes.. I tasted this recipe myself. I figured, it’s food from the grocery store so why not! And you know what.. it was pretty delicious.. ahahhaahha. It wasn’t salty (obviously since we didn’t add any salt) but it was meaty, a little bit liver-y, and kind of sweet. Now I can tell people that I’ve eaten dog food before ;) .
After I ate a whole big bowl myself… AHAHAH I’m totally joking. The second bowl is in the back.. I swear. I added in the safflower oil.
Once you’ve mixed the oil in , sprinkle on the nutrient packets and stir well. This custom blend is made from human grade nutrients designed specifically to balance this recipe. By combining this packet of vitamins and minerals with the food you just cooked, it’s like kicking the whole recipe up 10 notches! Like Chef Emeril Lagasse would say.. BAM!
According to this feeding guide that came with the nutrient packs, I’m supposed to feed Neo roughly 2 cups of food a day. If you have a tiny little Chihuahua, each batch of food could last you over a month!
I bought these small plastic containers from the Dollar Tree that holds exactly 2 cups. At $1 for 5 containers, it was a steal! It’s freezer friendly, microwavable, dishwasher safe, and it’s BPA free too. If you don’t want to buy containers, you could also portion everything out in zip lock baggies.
Here I am portioning out 2 cups of food per container. This way I only have to keep a few in the fridge while I store the rest in the freezer. Each container is a full day’s worth of food.
I love that how this dog food looks. It could totally pass as someone’s lunch.
Here is all 17 days worth of homemade dog food packaged and ready to go into the freezer and fridge.
Who’s hungry??? Neo has to sit on his bed and wait while I prepare his food. What a good boy :)
All I have to do is pop open the fridge and grab a container. As you can see the fat has dripped down to the bottom of the container. I personally like to pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds and stir, but the food is loose enough for you to stir without have to heat it. Trust me, your dog will love the food straight from the fridge without any warming needed.
Just pour out 1/2 of the container…
…and serve. Let me tell you…he absolutely loves it!
So of course a very important question that many of you may be asking right now is how much did everything cost. Here’s my breakdown:
Just Food For Dogs DIY Beef and Russet Potato Nutritional Packet – $17.95 / 3 = $5.99 *I received mine complimentary. Thank you again John!
85/15 Ground Beef – $5.99 pp x 5 lb = $29.95
Beef Liver – $2.79 lb / 16 ounces = $0.17 per ounce x 2.5 ounces = $0.43
Safflower Oil – $5.99 bottle/63 tbsp = $0.10 per tbsp x 5 tbsp = $0.50
Russet Potatoes – $.50 lb x 3.5 lbs = $1.75
Sweet Potatoes – $1.49 lb x 1.875 lbs = $2.79
Green Beans – $1.99 lb / 16 ounces = $0.12 per ounce x 5 ounces = $0.60
Green Peas – $1.00 a bag / 12 ounces = $.08 x 2.5 ounces = $0.20
Red Apple – $0.99 lb / 16 ounces = $0.06 per ounce x 5 ounces = $0.30
Carrots – $0.50 lb / 16 ounces = $0.03 per ounce x 5 ounces = $ .15
So it cost about $42.66 to cook this batch of food. Since Neo weighs 35 lbs, the food will last him 17 days. That breaks down to about $2.51 to feed him each day. Not bad when you figure that everything is preservative free, human grade, and fresh! The bulk of the cost was the 85/15 ground beef. If your local grocery store had a deal on the beef, then it would cut down on the cost of the food drastically. Overall I’m really happy with Just Food For Dogs Beef and Russet Potato recipe and I can’t wait to try cooking the Chicken and Rice one next time. Stay tuned and let me know if you have ever tried any of Just Food For Dogs DIY recipes!