Regardless of how you prepare it (raw or cooked), feeding your dog a whole foods diet means that you’ll have an added monthly expense to your budget.
And so I’ve decided to share some tips as you go out there and shop for ingredients.
A Freezer Is A Necessity
If you have the space, get a freezer.
I went to all of the department and hardware stores around town and found small freezers for a few hundred dollars.
Home Depot had the best price but that meant I would have to load it up into my truck or pay a delivery fee.
I looked on Amazon and found one for a comparable price. And the best part is that it was delivered in two days.
Note: Some links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associates or other programs I participate in). At no charge to you, as an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
It sits right next to the washer and dryer and is about the same size. For my purposes, this freezer has been sufficient for two dogs that weigh 20 pounds each.
I’m not buying twenty to thirty pounds of meat at a time, I’m buying maybe two to five pounds of any given meat when I find them on sale.
Shop At Your Local Butchers
If you really want to save money on food, do so by going to your local butcher. And not the fancy one in the expensive neighborhood, the busy one in immigrant neighborhood.
In San Diego, that means that the best prices can be found in the Mexican carniciera. Chicken drumsticks as an example are 75 cents per pound.
Shop At The Low-End Grocery Stores
Food4Less in our town has, next to the butcher, the lowest meat prices. As a comparison, chicken drumsticks are about $1.30 per pound.
Don’t forget to check out your local Walmart. If they don’t have groceries, you can get canned goods for an unbelievably low price. I’ve seen canned sardines for as low as 75 cents per can.
Join Your Local Co-Op
If you live in a more densely populated city, you will probably have a Raw Feeder’s Group that coordinates their shopping to get lower prices.
In our town, you can connect through Facebook. Just enter in your city town and then “raw feeders group” to see what comes up.
Or you can go to your local pet store that sells raw and ask them if they know of any raw feeder groups to join.
Familiarize Yourself With What The Going Prices Are
Check your mail for the weekly grocery circulars. In your journal start to note down the prices for meat, fish, seafood etc.
This will teach you to know what the best prices are and from where to get it.
Check Out Your Ethnic Stores
Your local Asian, Mexican, Meditteranean, and other ethnic stores will be your new go-to for things like edible bones, organ meats, organs, fish, seafood, and more.
It’s the only place in my town where I can find ingredients like duck and chicken feet, duck and chicken hearts, duck and chicken gizzards, beef, chicken and pork liver, beef tongue, turkey necks and more.
Connect With Your Local Dog Food Companies
Local dog food companies are buying meat in bulk. Reach out to them to see if they ever sell any items to the local raw feeder’s community.
Visit Your Local Pet Store
Petco and Petstmart won’t be selling any raw food ingredients.
But your smaller mom-and-pop boutique pet stores might. And your local dog wash or grooming center might. As well as your local dog boarding facility.
And while they won’t have ingredients for DIY feeders, they will have commercial grinds that you can either feed as is, or as a base to start off with.
What To Look For When Buying Raw Food
If your dog has a lead stomach, your options are wide open, and you can shop at any of the options stated above.
In my case, my dogs have had a history of yeast and allergies. As such I tend to spend a little bit more money on quality. I buy grass-fed when I can, and I buy better quality meat as often as I can.
When I’m selecting my ingredients, I want it to have:
- A fresh color. For example, I went to three different Asian markets and noticed that at one, the chicken feet looked clean, pink, and not grey and dull.
- No bad odors.
- Sourced locally or as close to home as possible. The only exception I make on this are the frozen Oysters which come from Korea. I cook them so it’s not such a big factor and Oysters are very expensive from our local farm.
- Within it’s sell-by date (I.e. not expired).
Familiarizing yourself with where to shop and who has the best prices will help keep your costs down so that you can either spend that on something else or put it in your savings.