7 Months of Eating Well from our Pantry-The animals eat too…
I haven’t mentioned in a while about feeding the animals around here. The Dalton the dog, Dudley the house cat, and the barn cats eat the homemade food I prepare for them weekly. The process is simple and only takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. Sort of my version on Stone Soup for them. Do any of you remember that children’s book?
I pull out a rather large stock pot and start adding things to it. I take a look in the fridge to see if there is any left over meat, if not I will use about 1 pound of beef, chicken or turkey from the freezer. Next I add any left over veggies that I want to clean up, if not I check the freezer because there are bags in there just for them. I also save and freeze things like potato, carrot peels and other trimmings from preparing our meals and into the pot they go. This is where I add the water from boiling veggies I saved too.
Next I add several types of rice, oh’ I don’t know, about 1 cup. I sometimes use barley, oats, what ever I have around and into the pot it goes. NEVER BEANS! Fill the pot with water and boil until the rice is just about done, then I add a few hand fulls of pasta, what ever is close at hand. I add a couple of Tablespoons of flax seed oil or sunflower oil and a couple of bullion cubes or any saved gravy. This will cook until everything is done and let it sit to cool before putting it into the fridge. This would freeze well if I wanted to make a larger batch.
This is good wholesome food, I’m not talking about feeding them the bad, spoiled left overs, those go to the compost. The veggies I saved are good but not perfect. The green beans had a bit of the discoloring they will get if you touch them wet while they are growing. The nutritional value is there, I use those for soup stock too.
The carrots that were too little or badly misshapen were washed well, cut, blanched and frozen. I am almost positive these are in better shape than what is going into commercial food being prepared for human consumption, never mind pet food.
This week’s meals was a combination of baked ham, grilled steak, zucchini, green beans, beet tops, carrot peals and tops, wild rice, long grain rice, barley, a bit of whole wheat macaroni, sunflower oil and 2 beef bullion cubes.
I can honestly say that feeding them like this saves us money. Most weeks there is enough leftover meat and the freezer has plenty of less than perfect veggies we grew this summer and saved for them. If we should run low there are packages of meat scraps I picked up from our local butcher that cost us almost nothing. A 20 pound box of beef scraps was $6.00. You know from these scraps I was also able to cut several pounds of very nice stew beef for our use.
We also have several pounds of venison a friend was cleaning out of his freezer to make room for the new deer this year. Now in most cases I would NOT feed deer meat to a dog! But our’s is always on his run when he is outside and his chances of ever going out hunting is very slim. He earns his keep by being cute I guess, and he is good at letting us know when someone is here or something isn’t just right.
Another great benefit is I don’t have to lug huge bags of dry pet food around. I don’t have the plastic bags it came in to do something with and that makes us happy to cut down on unneeded garbage to recycle. An 18 pound bag of commercial dog food costs around $18.-$23. these days. If you follow the feeding directions on the package that bag would last the dog just about a week. WOW!
Even if you don’t have room for a garden or freezer space, a trip weekly to the grocery store for fresh ingredients will still help you save time, money and your back.
I certainly feel better knowing what they are eating, that it greatly lessens the chances of them becoming sick. How many times recently have I heard about pet food being recalled? To many for my liking. Store bought pet food is a fairly new invention made for our new fast paced life and a very profitable way for the meat processors to get rid of their by-products that would otherwise go to waste. In our Grandparent’s time store bought pet food was unheard of and I can pretty much bet they would not have parted with their hard earned money to buy it. Grain and hay for the animals yes, but to feed a cat or dog, no way on earth. The ads on TV and even from your vet about having to feed your pets commercial food for nutritional reasons is a marketing scheme to get you to part with your hard earned money while you feed your pets garbage. Wild dogs and cats are opportunists and will eat what ever they can find just like any other animal and have always done so.
I also have notice that they void much less than other dogs and cats who are fed commercial foods. Their food is actually being used by their bodies. That being said this is the reason why they are able to eat less. Dalton is a mutant Beagle (no not really, but he was bought as a 12″ Beagle and I think there is some blood hound in him that makes him larger than normal Beagles) he weights around 60 pounds and eats 1/2 cup of his food twice a day. Dudley is a small sized cat and I feed him about the same when he has had enough Dalton is all to happy to help him with the rest he didn’t eat. They will also eat scraps of toast, leftover oatmeal or other goodies we might have left after a meal.
Did it take up more garden space? No not really, these veggies would have gone to the compost bin. True these carrots were perfectly good for us to eat, and my up-bringing tells me to shredded them for baking or relish or even served them in less than perfect shape. But we had plenty that were prettier. If not a row or two can be squeezed in to feed the animals.
True I had to purchase a bit more meat but that is the cost of keeping an animal. True it takes up valuable freezer space but there are other alternatives to freezing their food. Next year I might can jars of pet food instead of storing everything in the freezer and making a week’s worth at a time. The other thing I could have done is dehydrate the veggies. Dehydrated food doesn’t need to be refrigerated or frozen. I have plenty of time to work this out over the winter.
So with the veggies and meat safely frozen in the freezer I feel good that there is enough to feed them from our pantry over the winter. It took very little planning and a bit more time but not much. I was chopping, and blanching veggies any way so a batch or two for the pets was not a big deal.