The true cost of cooking dog food yourself

You’ve done your research, you’ve spoken to your vet, and you’ve decided that your dog should be eating a fresh, home-cooked diet. With options like NomNomNow available, many pet owners wonder if they should actually pay a local company to cook for their dog, or simply do it for themselves (and hopefully save a little money in the process).

Since we started out as a few people cooking for their dogs, and now cook for many of other peoples’ dogs, we know the ins and outs of doing it as a company and as an individual.

The cost of cooking dog food yourself l NomNomNow Blog

When thinking about cooking for your dog at home, Pinterest will have you believe it’s a breeze. Chicken and rice, maybe a DIY mix you buy, or perhaps a recipe shared in the form of the infographic. Easy, right? We’ve learned that it isn’t always as easy as they say. Of course, feeding your dog fresh, home-made food is always rewarding, which is why we do it.

When preparing to cook for your dog and evaluate the cost, don’t forget the time required each week, and the importance of having any recipe you use approved by your vet (or a veterinary nutritionist). Here is the full breakdown of the cost of cooking dog food yourself, so you can decide if that’s right for you and your dog.

The cost of cooking home-made dog food

1. Ingredients

Let’s look at a classic beef recipe, balanced by a veterinarian nutritionist. Beef is a pretty standard recipe, and red meat tends to be more affordable than white. Below are the ingredient amounts for a weeks’ worth of dog food, based on a mid-sized dog of 34 pounds. This will yield the recommended 7 pounds of food for this dog.


  • 80% ground beef ($15.15)
  • Russet potato ($1.16)
  • Eggs ($3.24)
  • Carrots ($0.61)
  • Peas ($1.76)
  • Vitamin and oil blend ($1.42)

Ingredients total: $23.24*

*Based on January 2017 average prices at a Safeway in Oakland, California.

Let’s also consider that you should allot for gasoline/public transportation, and time spent going to the store and back each week ($7). If you have groceries delivered, have to drive further to the store, etc., this may change, but $7 is a safe medium.

Total: $30.34

2. Time

Cooking a typical recipe would require about 5 hours per week, given that you are cooking enough for 7 days. Depending on how you value your time, you could add an hourly value to that, or perhaps we just stick with the cost of purchasing the ingredients and the awareness that you will have to devote a decide chunk of time once per week.

3. Getting a recipe

Additionally, these costs above are assuming that you have already acquired a veterinarian-balanced recipe. Dogs, like humans, need a diet balanced in a variety of nutrients, and those recipes you might find on the internet don’t always provide what your dog needs long-term. If you haven’t already acquired a veterinarian-balanced recipe, the average cost of having a recipe made is a one-time $500 fee. If you plan to continue cooking for your dog, you can divide this cost over the numbers of weeks that you continue the habit of cooking.

If you have found a recipe from a friend or online and would like to avoid the $500 fee, please make sure to ask a veterinarian nutritionist if it is balanced so you do not risk feeding something that may leave your dog with nutritional deficiencies. This will cost the same as a typical veterinarian visit (~$80).

What does it cost to purchase a home-cooked recipe like this?

This same beef recipe for a 35 pound dog from NomNomNow would cost $39.90 a week. If you consider that the ingredients for this recipe cost $23.24, and that you will need to spend about $7 on acquiring the ingredients, now a total of $30.34, you’re only spending about $9 more to save yourself 5 hours of work. If we include the cost of getting a recipe (one-time fee of $500), you’re also looking at a big commitment up front. If your dog doesn’t like the recipe, you’re going to have to use it for at least a year to get your money’s worth, and even then you’re only saving a few dollars.

NomNomNow Chicken Chow Wow l NomNomNow Blog

Whether you home-cook fresh food for your dog, or purchase fresh food from a local company, feed your dog the right kind of food and it will be rewarding regardless of the time and price. Invest in more years together, and a happier and healthier future.

To learn more about our homecooked dog food recipes, click here and see your custom price. Or, share your delicious homemade dog food on social with the hashtag #homemadedogfood!



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