People who only feed kibble often ask about the extra time required to feed frozen raw foods or supplements. While there is a little extra measuring involved, some advanced planning can make mealtimes easier. Many people who feed raw food or supplements find that doing a little extra food prep on the weekend can make mealtimes as simple as opening a container and giving it to your dog or cat.
To find out more, we talked to four-year Muddy Sarah Carter. Sarah started as store staff at the Gig Harbor store, but she gained a lot of her raw food expertise from feeding her own cats, Roscoe and Rocket. Spending time experimenting in her kitchen, she discovered lots of ways to save time while minimizing mess.
MB: One of the biggest drawbacks of frozen raw food can be the prep work involved. But you’ve found that planning ahead can make feeding raw food easier. Can you explain?
SC: A lot of people buy nuggets or medallions of raw food because it’s easier to measure and portion. But if you find a food that you love that isn’t sold in a preportioned form, or you want to save money by buying raw food in a chub or tub, feeding frozen raw food can seem like more work.
So, I like to prepare my cat’s food ahead of time. Right now, I’ll prepare about a week’s worth of meals at a time for my two cats. There was a time where I had enough freezer space to do raw food prep once every three weeks.
For me, raw food prep is really simple. I have plastic food service containers that I’ll use. I just weigh the right amount of raw food with my kitchen scale, and then place all the filled food containers in the freezer. Then I’ll take frozen containers of food out of the freezer the day before I need them and defrost them in the refrigerator.
I usually take the food out of the freezer anywhere from 12 to 24 hours before I’m going to feed it to my cats. My cats are small, so they only eat between three and four ounces per day. That’s a small enough amount that it only takes a few hours to defrost. I also feed my cats three times a day because it works with my routine, so after the last meal of the day, I put the meals for the next day into the refrigerator to defrost.
You can save a ton of time by doing all of your food prep on the weekend, instead of trying to measure out raw food several times a day before every meal. Not only do you save time measuring, but it’s easier because you only have to clean utensils and the counterspace once after dividing the raw food.
MB: Many people want to feed their dog or cat supplements, but it can take a long time to prep meals if you’re using multiple supplements. Do you have any kitchen tips to help make supplementing easier?
SC: Supplements can add extra time to mealtimes if you do it every day or at every single meal. Once again, if you prepare meals ahead of time, you can just include the supplements in the container with the food. Then, all you have to do is defrost the food and remove the lid before giving it to your dog or cat.
If you aren’t prepping your food ahead of time, you can still premeasure your supplements using this method. If they don’t want to do that, they can do what I do. I use silicone baking molds to mix the supplements with some of the raw frozen food that I use. Most recently, I’ve switched to mixing the supplements with bone broth.
I currently use a powdered digestive supplement and a dental supplement for both of my cats. So, I’ll add a single serving of supplements into every well of my baking mold and then add some bone broth. After I mix it up with a toothpick, I’ll freeze the mold until the nuggets are solid. Then I’ll pop out the frozen bone broth and store them in a plastic bag in my freezer.
Then, once a day, I can add one nugget to each of my cats’ food to defrost with the rest of the meal while the entire meal is defrosting.
MB: Do you have other kitchen tips that you think might help pet owners?
SC: Sometimes freezing supplements can also help avoid spoilage and other problems. When my cats were younger, one of them was having some problems with the consistency of his stool. So, I started giving him a pumpkin supplement to help alleviate that problem. At the time Mud Bay only stocked a large can, and it actually ended up being a month’s worth of supplementation for my little 10-pound cat.
So, I plopped teaspoon amounts of pumpkin onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. (You can also use foil, but I like the silicone mat for reducing waste.) Then, after the pumpkin was frozen, I just put the nuggets in a plastic bag. That way, I didn’t have to worry about the pumpkin going bad over the course of a month. Freezing the pumpkin was actually the idea that started me on freezing different supplements. And once again, such a small nugget defrosted quickly on top of my cat’s regular food.
MB: It seems like you experiment a lot in the kitchen. So, are there any experiments that you’ve tried that didn’t work out?
SC: Getting fish oil into a frozen supplement nugget is tough. Because the oil has a very low melting temperature, it’s hard to keep fish oil frozen. So, when I tried to mix fish oil into my bone broth supplement nuggets, it just really didn’t work well. The moment I took those out of the freezer, the oil had already begun to melt. I didn’t even get a chance to pop them all out of the molds. So, right now, if you look into my freezer, you’ll still see a bag of nuggets where the bag is covered in fish oil.
However, I’ve found that if you do want to freeze fish oil, you can just create little supplement nuggets with the raw food that you use. If you mix the fish oil and other supplements into some raw food in a silicone baking mold, the raw food holds the fish oil just fine.
Sarah Carter is Mud Bay’s data quality specialist. When she’s not at the home office, she’s off hiking or spending quality time with her fiancé and two cats, Rocket and Roscoe.