Save Time & Energy with this Meal Prep Hack
I had another epiphany … hallelujah! It’s about mealtime and it’s going to save me (and hopefully you, too!) sooo much time and sooo much hard work.
First, a quick background …
When we made the decision to welcome two new buggs into our home, we also decided we would commit to feeding a raw diet. Sure, it’s a little more labour-intensive than kibble, but the health benefits far outweigh the hassle (in my opinion).
Yes, you can buy pre-made raw meals at your local pet store. And you’ll pay a hefty price for the convenience. Ever the penny pincher, I thought I’d give homemade raw feeding a try. And I’m glad I did. But … it was a lot more work than I thought it’d be.
The good news is that a) I learned a ton of useful tidbits I can now pass along to other pet parents just like you, and b) the older our little furballs get, the simpler the homemade raw diet gets. Here’s what I mean ...
Actual Feeding Chart
Chance & Roxy will be 4 months old next Tuesday. Although I’ll check my chart periodically to make sure I’m still on track, I stopped counting and measuring ounces of food about 2 weeks ago.
If you’ve been following our journey, you know that I weigh each puppy every Tuesday. Since they’ve been home, they’ve been growing at a steady rate and they’re both well within the ideal weight range for their age.
In fact, they had a checkup earlier this week and according to our vet, “they are the picture of perfect health.”
The moral of that short story is that every dog is different, so don’t sweat the math. These charts and numbers are good guidelines for anyone brand new to raw food diets. But they’re certainly not written in stone.
Until today (when I was struck with my latest epiphany), this is how I prepped my meals.
Once I got into a groove, it took between 1 to 2 hours to prepare about 10 days worth of food for two dogs.
Then this happened …
Why you need to buy a dehydrator
I’m not one for kitchen gadgets. They take up a lot of space and the novelty usually wears off pretty quickly. But I now know I can’t live without this one.
The NutriChef Food Hydrator (~C$60 on Amazon). You can buy it here. No, I’m not an affiliate and I’m not being paid to promote it in any way -- I just think you should have one.
Single-ingredient treats are seriously expensive. Now I can make all my own training treats for pennies compared to what I was paying retail.
So far, I’ve made:
- 2 potatoes
- 5 strawberries
- 1 banana
- 2 apples
That probably cost me less than 3 bucks. And look at the volume:
That's a lot of treats for two little dogs. But I’ve saved the best for last …
My daily 2-minute meal prep (ya, you read that right -- 2 minutes!) now looks something like this:
- Day before feeding, pull 1lb of frozen raw meat out of the freezer & let it thaw halfway
- Slice it in half (8oz) & put in 2 zip-locked bags
- Day of feeding, 6am: open one bag, divide in half, feed each puppy (4oz ea)
- Repeat at 6pm
Now, I might modify that 4oz portion down a bit, depending on how much I’m feeding interactively throughout the day. Four ounces may be a tad much for their current weight, but they’re growing so quickly, it’s only a matter of days / weeks before we’re there. So in the spirit of keeping things simple, I’ve rolled the clock forward a little.
But what about all the other ingredients you were adding?
Excellent question! Here’s where the magic really happens …
I’ve dehydrated all their fruits and veggies, which means I can feed them throughout the day for training sessions and interactive toy time (snuffle mat, ball dispenser, puzzle feeders, etc.).
As for the grains, I make it in advance and keep it in a plastic container in the fridge. It’s easy to just pop a spoonful of rice into one of their meals, or grab a tasty morsel of oatmeal for hand feeding.
Just be careful with portion sizes. Since dehydrated foods lose all moisture content, they’re a lot lighter (and smaller in size), so keep that in mind when feeding your pups.
Does dehydrated food keep its nutritional value?
You bet your sweet patootie it does! In fact, many dehydrated foods maintain their nutrients much longer than fresh foods. Research has shown that fresh produce can lose as much as 50% of its vitamins, minerals and antioxidants within just a few short days of being kept in the fridge.
In addition to maintaining antioxidants, minerals and most vitamins, dehydrated foods also retain essential fatty acids and enzymes, and contain the same amount of calories, protein, carbs, fibre and sugar.