Cooking dog food is so much easier than you think!

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

By Ali Smith

Meet Simba and Ash. Simba (on the left) almost didn't survive an adhesion in her intestines as a puppy. The adhesion was blocking her ability to digest food, and she had to have 12" of digestive track removed.She had the surgery, survived, grew to be a strong girl and is a voracious eater! While Simba and I were driving north on I-25 one night heading up to Boulder to visit family, I saw a big dog about to step onto I-25 in northern New Mexico. Realizing the dog most likely would have gotten hit within seconds by one of several 16-wheelers heading north right behind me, I pulled over onto the shoulder and she came right around the car and put her head in between my feet and then jumped right into the car. No collar, no tags, no nothin'. As Marci said when I told her the story, as if Marci was speaking for Ash, "I've been trying this highway trick for years and I finally got a sucker!" Simba was a rescue from the shelter here in town, and who could resist a puppy that looked like that? After Simba recovered from her surgery, I started cooking for her and combine this recipe with dry food (I use the Taste of the Wild Venison/Bison blend), and do about 1/3 dry, 2/3 homemade wet food. Ash eats it too and they both seem to be thriving on it.

This picture taken when Simba was 8 weeks old, at the local shelter on the day I adopted her in 2015.


Yield: enough food for 3 weeks for one large dog (60 lbs) and one small dog (22 lbs)

2.5 cups rinsed short grain brown rice, divided between two soup pots

4 quarts of filtered water, 2 quarts in each soup pot

6 sweet potatoes, enough to yield 8-9 cups diced sweet potatoes (small dice)

5 pounds lean ground beef (you could use ground chicken or ground turkey if your dog doesn't do well with beef)

1 or more pounds of broccoli stems (you can use as much as 2 pounds), peeled and cut into a fine dice

Rinse 2 1/2 cups short grain brown rice in a fine mesh colander.

Start heating 2 soup pots of water, with 2 quarts of filtered water in each pot. Add the rice, divided into 1.25 or 1.5 cups into each pot.

While the water is coming up to a boil, rinse and peel your sweet potatoes.

I'm using Garnet sweet potatoes here but you could also use Jewel sweet potatoes. I pull up a stool to the counter, turn on the radio, and get busy cutting off the peels and slicing and dicing.

After peeling them, you cut them into slices and if you have dogs, they will probably be very interested at this point in what you are doing!

Cut them into a small dice, that way they cook faster and are more easily distributed throughout the final rice/beef/sweet potato/broccoli dog food mixture.

After the brown rice has been boiling for at least 10-12 minutes, add the diced sweet potatoes and bring everything back up to a low boil, continuing to cook for at least 25 more minutes. Now work on the broccoli.

This is a great use for broccoli stems that normally find their way to the trash can or the compost bin. Trim off the tough outer part of the lower part of the stalks, and dice.

Dice the mid to upper part of the stalk including the outer "peel". It is more tender and you'll feel that your knife will cut through that part of the stalk more easily. Small dice. Set aside.

Now it's time to add the ground beef, dividing your 4.5-5 pounds between the two pots. I break it up the beef into small handfuls while adding since that is easier than breaking up larger clumps of the beef once it is cooking. Once the beef/rice/sweet potato mix has cooked at least 15 more minutes, then you are ready to add the diced broccoli stems.

Divide your broccoli stems between the two pots and simmer for another 5 minutes until done. Stir several times to prevent any sticking on the bottom.

At this point, turn off the heat and if you have any glass jars (I use 2 qt glass jars or larger), fill them with hot water to warm them so that they won't crack when you add your hot mixture to them. You could also use metal bowls if they will fit into your freezer or fridge. Pour out the hot water. Divide your cooked dog food mix into several of the jars, and put them in the freezer or refrigerator to cool down enough to pack into plastic containers to freeze. I usually cool down the batch in the glass jars for at least 30 minutes. Remove the sort of solid fat that forms at the top. Then portion out 2 to 4 cup portions into plastic containers that you can use to freeze in. This batch lasts two dogs about 3 weeks, being fed twice a day.

Good pals. Good food for them!

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