When Lulu first came to live with me, she came with a bag of cheap corn-based food, dandruff, low energy, and a poopy butt. Google said the food could be to blame. Wanting my fur baby to feel good, look good, and have tons of energy, definitely not wanting to scoop runny poop, I began to research her food options and experimenting with what I fed her. If you are like me and want your doggie to enjoy life as much and as long as possible, you may want to consider home-cooked food. If you think it’s expensive, I am here to tell you, the quality of life of your lovely companion is more important, and besides, home cooking is not really that expensive. Here’s how i feed us good, mostly organic food without breaking the bank.
Around 9 am, I make my way to the supermarket down the street and hit the fresh meat section. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1993, which made the first visit there like a bad trip to a foreign county – not only did I not like the sights, but I didn’t speak the language either. I didn’t know what was there and how it’s organized and what things cost. Plus, the look of animal remains packaged in cellophane is not my idea of a morning well-spent. I had to get over it, for Lulu’s sake. She’s not a vegetarian, although I considered the possibility while staring down a package of ground cow.
I once knew a lady who swore she cured her dog’s cancer by cooking her daily vegetarian food. Perhaps, perhaps. But I intend to keep Lulu from getting cancer in first place. Just like humans, dogs need to eat well and exercise. And that’s what we do! We walked 105 miles in July and will beat this in August. And we eat well. I eat mostly organic and healthy if you ignore the monthly pizza and the occasional pastry. I’ve got a system to keep me going. And now I’ve got a system to keep Lulu going.
She eats mostly meat, giving her lots of protein for the energy she needs to keep her little feet running up the hill on our hikes. As I stroll down the meat section I’ve learned to quickly identify the red and yellow Super Sale stickers on the packaging. Last week I found organic, grass-fed beef for $3.99/lb. Normally, it costs $8.99. Today I found ground organic turkey for $2.49/lb and some pork sausage, no hormones, no antibiotics, all delicious for $2.99/lb. This meat is on its last couple of days of allowable shelf-life for humans, but perfect for a dog with a strong stomach and who doesn’t care about FDA regulations.
Honestly, if I ate meat and was poorer than I am now, I can make a daily trip to the supermarket and eat organic all day long, as long as I cooked everything I bought as soon as I got home. Who needs 1/4 lb of fast food-like substances called chicken nuggets when you can get the real thing, organic, for $2.99/lb.
Veggies and fruit too. I get organic bananas which both Lulu and I enjoy for only .10 extra per pound. Sometimes blueberries and raspberries, apples, and even watermelon go down in price in the organic section. There’s always spinach, kale, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, in their organic version, either just a couple of quarters more than the normal stuff, or on sale and cheaper or at the same price as their non-organic counterparts. Yes, I don’t shop at Whole Foods very often, mainly because it’s out of my way and it tends to be spendy. But when I am there, I explore the isles and find things Lulu and I would enjoy either on sale or for not much more than the regular produce.
Costco has organic fruit and veggies, olive oil, cheese, rice, and tons of other products at the fraction of the price of those same items in regular stores. You can get a 10 lb bag of organic carrots for less than $5, big tubs of spinach, giant bags of broccoli, and much more to feed the whole family, or juice them to your heart’s content. I feed myself, little Lulu, and a few other dogs who’s parents buy my home-cooked dog food for them.
At the end of the day, the long-term cost of eating terrible food hugely outweighs the short-term small increase of your grocery bill. Cancer in you and in your dog is costly – in money and in quality of life. It also takes a toll on everyone around you.
Don’t let the myth of “eating organic is prohibitively expensive” prevent you from checking what’s available and taking advantage of good deals when you find them. No need to stress over making your diet 100% organic. Just keep an eye on the organic section and replace as much of the regular stuff as you can with the organic version. Keep yourself away from fast-food restaurants. Keeping your dog away from kibble full of preservatives, gum, and other additives to keep it from spoiling, cheap canned food made of ground-up carcasses of sick animals and flavored with artificial ingredients. Seriously!
Hit the farmer’s market. Buying fresh local products helps you, your dog, and your local farmer. Often organic products do cost a ton at the farmer’s market, but if you buy local, you get clean food even if it is not certified organic.
If you eat on the cheap now, you’ll pay later with interest.
Often Lulu comes shopping with me. I have a sling I wear across my shoulder and she sits in it, snug as a bug, with only her head sticking out. We get a chuckle from other shoppers who happen to notice, making their day. Surely, some think I am crazy. Why else would I carry my dog in a sling into the supermarket or the farmer’s market? Well, because I can’t walk her there. It’s not allowed!
I’d love to hear from folks who cook for their dogs. Perhaps, we can swap ideas.
Meanwhile, Lulu and I, wish you a good time.