With pre-made raw meal services created for connivence, anyone can be a raw feeder and never prepare a single meal for their pet. However it is much more gratifying and cost effective when you source, plan, and portion out your pet’s meals by hand.
When it comes to raw feeding, do it yourself meal planning is one of the biggest accomplishments you can achieve. DIY puts you in control of what your pet is eating and allows you to be proactive in making adjustments to the diet according to specific needs.
Knowledge is Power
Raw feeding step number one, research.
Calculate quantities to determine a base cost.
Locate and document sourcing locations.
Gather essentials needed for prepping.
Portion and freeze products for easy access.
Monitor & Adjust
Document and adjust meals to meet needs.
Part 1: Research
Raw feeding requires research to understand how to provide your pet with nutritional requirements. It is best not to dive in blind, you should have an understanding of the necessities of raw feeding before beginning.
Part 2: Sourcing
Finding resources to buy raw meat products before beginning raw feeding allows for better preparation. Knowing where to find reliable access to the bare minimum requirements for raw feeding is important to ensure you’re able to provide a balanced diet.
Butchers & Slaugherhouses
Butchers and slaughterhouses are a way to get items that are not traditionally sold to the public as well as making reliable connections for fresh meat sources.
Grocery Stores & Bulk Suppliers
Local grocery stores and supermarkets are great places to find staple meats and buy in bulk to save money in the long run.
Farmers are a great connection to make for humanly raised meat. Most farmers dispatch and butcher their livestock which is a way to score off cuts and scraps.
Raw Feeding Co-Ops
A raw feeding cooperative (co-op) is a group of associated people who have joined forces in efforts to provide accessibility to raw products at an affordable cost.
Asian, Mexican, and International markets are a treasure trove of odd cuts not often found in traditional grocery stores.
Hunters are another great connection to make for getting off cuts and scraps. Sometimes hunters will even provide some whole prey items.
Part 3: Budget & Calculations
Calculating out how many pounds will be needed for a whole month will allow you to figure out a rough estimate on monthly costs. In order to do this, daily feeding ratios will need to be determined for muscle meat, bone, and organ; and multiplied by thirty (30 days).
Once you have calculated the amount of pounds required for a whole month, multiply it by 2 (for $2.00/lb*) to get a base budget for raw feeding.
Cost relies heavily on your local area’s average cost for meat plus the amount of footwork you’re willing to put into sourcing. Chicken and pork are two of the easiest to find cheap meats. Chicken is usually under $1/pound and you can find pork on sale for $0.99-$1.49/pound.
Spending less money per pound than your base budget provides additional funds to spend extra on more costly items. Monitor weekly circular ads for seasonal meat sales. Once prices drop, stock up on the items on sale which will save costs in the long run.
Part 4: Prepare for Prep Day
Every household is different, meaning there is a range of complexities to consider when deciding on how you will prepare for prep day. When selecting a feeding and preparation method it is best to choose a route that fits with your lifestyle in order to be prepared for prep day.
Feeding Method Options
When it comes to raw feeding there are multiple feeding methods to fit different lifestyles. You can provide daily balanced meals or achieve balance over time. As long as balance is achieved within a period of time, regardless if it is in a singular day or over time, there is no right or wrong decision. It is entirely up to the raw feeder on what is preferred and what is suitable for the animal at question.
Daily balanced meals follow the ratio guidelines of the diet of choice every day and at every feeding. This means individual meals need to be balanced with muscle meat, raw edible bone, and organs daily.
Each individual meal will consist of the required daily amount for muscle meat, raw edible bone, and organ in relation to the diet of choice.
Balance Over Time
Achieving balance over time means dietary requirements are achieved in a span of days versus daily. Some meals may be bone and organ heavy while others are boneless; however ratios of the diet are still followed and achieved.
Dietary balance is achieved in a set amount of days. Seven days (1 week) is a recommended approach to achieving balance over time.
If you are raw feeding a puppy or kitten, meals must achieve balance daily to ensure stable and consistent growth through adolescence. Once they are over 1.5 years old you can choose to achieve balance over time.
Different Preparation Methods
There are two different ways to prepare meats for meals for our pets. One option is to bulk prepare individual meals to be frozen. Where as the other option is to portion out and freeze similar meat cuts in bags to thaw and prepare individual meals as needed.
In order for prep day to go as smooth as possible, it is best to make sure you have all the necessities needed to complete a successful prep day.
Raw Meat, Bones, & Organs
Naturally you cannot complete prep day without meat to prep. Your selected preparation method and how far in advance you want to prep will dictate how much raw meat, bones, and organs you will need.
Pet's Raw Feeding Requirements
It is best to have a printout of your pet’s dietary requirements on hand if you are still in the process of memorizing the ratios your pet’s diet requires. Having a printout available and laminated provides easy access to your pet’s requirement incase you forget in the middle of prepping.
Click here to use Perfectly Rawsome’s Raw Feeding Calculator and get a free downloadable PDF of your pet’s dietary requirements emailed to you!
Freeze Grade Containers/Bags
Regardless if you are prepping daily meals or combining like items to be frozen, you will need a means to store and freeze the product. Plastic freeze resistant containers made by Reditainers are a great option for individually portioned meals. Freeze grade Ziploc bags in quart, gallon, and two gallon sizes are ideal for combining like items to be frozen for storage and easy thaw.
Part 5: Prep & Freeze
Prepping meals or portioning out similar meat cuts is a way to maximize your time when raw feeding. Prep day should come easy once you have completed the planning steps before beginning. All that is left to do is thaw, cut, portion, and freeze.
Allow the raw to thaw in the sink, portable coolers, or the bathtub for easy cleanup.
Chunk up extra large items before portioning into storage containers or bags.
Once all of the raw items are chunked, add them to their respective container or storage bags.
Move all storage containers or bags straight back into the freezer once filled with raw.
Starting off small with meal prepping is the best method when taking on prep day for the first time. Doing smaller, more frequent meal preps will get you in the motion and thought process of preparing raw for a prolonged period. Begin prepping for 5-7 days and gradually increase the amount you’re prepping as you become more comfortable with the process.
There are a few kitchen tools that makes prep days easier. An apron, cutting board, sturdy knife, knife sharpener, kitchen shears, and a digital kitchen scale are essential tools to use when prepping meat for your pet.
Part 6: Monitor & Adjust
As pets grow and age their body changes and it is important to adjust your pet’s diet as time progresses. Monitor your pet’s body condition and stool consistency when raw feeding. This allows you to be proactive in providing an optimal diet for your pet’s specific requirements.
DIY meal planning provides you with huge satisfaction knowing exactly where your pet’s food came from and what is in it. All your time spent sourcing quality proteins, prepping, and sanitizing is all worth it in the end when you see the benefits your pet receives through raw food.
About Perfectly Rawsome
Perfectly Rawsome strives to provide pet parents with reliable information on raw diets for dogs and cats. The Perfectly Rawsome Guidance Blog is filled with articles to assist beginners on their raw feeding journey as well as information for those who have more experience.
Our raw feeding calculators, list of trusted resources, and comprehensive guides to transition dogs and cats are a few examples of the many features that will be forever free! One of the best things pet parents can provide their pet with is a fresh food diet and we are committed to coaching them every step of the way.