Before we started raw feeding, I knew that it was going to take a bit more effort than pouring kibble from a store-bought bag. It turns out I completely underestimated just what was involved in beginning raw feeding when self-prepping. Although I had done extensive research on the important factors of a raw diet, there were still areas, such as excess meat storage and daily meal containers, that no one seemed to really talk about. Let’s just say we learned a LOT of these lessons the hard way and we hope you can build off of our experience to have greater success in your raw feeding journey.
Invest in quality meal containers from the beginning.
In four months, we have tried four different ways of storing our meals and excess meats. We started with the most popular Ziploc plastic bags… only to wake up to what we disdainfully refer to as Meatmageddon. The bags we used did NOT keep the meat “juices” in and they leaked in the freezer prior to freezing the bag. The plastic bags that held excess meat in the refrigerator leaked all over the bottom shelf, seeping down into the vegetable and fruit drawers below and finally leaking out onto the floor. It was an absolute nightmare and I don’t wish that upon any of you. We’ve also tried Reditainer Extreme Freeze containers and the dollar store’s reusable plastic containers (both of which were referred to us by fellow raw feeders). The Reditainers are round containers that were not efficient for maximizing space and prepped meals in the freezer. The dollar store’s reusable plastic containers not only cracked, but the lids would often lift off when the contents of the meal froze.
The lesson we learned was we should have invested in top-quality containers from the beginning instead of spending and spending on containers that ended up being thrown away. We highly recommend Snapware‘s glass containers which come with locking lids and have been leak-proof thus far. While they are pricier than other containers, we have only had good experiences with them. Not to mention that when we could only fit 4 meals in a section of the freezer, we’re now able to stack a total of 12 meals in the same section! The best deal we have found so far are the individual containers when they’re on sale at Target or the boxed set when available at Costco.
Immediately transfer fresh products to leak-proof containers.
A mistake we’ve made more than once is shopping after a long day, only to come home and immediately put the packages of meat in the refrigerator or freezer to deal with the following day. While it saves time and effort that evening, it has the potential of creating a bigger problem if the packages of meat begin leaking. While I prefer to cut up our meat prior to putting it in containers, we’ve learned that it’s still better to put whole pieces of meat in containers than chancing a contamination issue by cutting corners.
Promptly freeze fresh products until prep day.
Due to my multiple disabilities, it is impossible to gauge how I am going to be feeling on any given day. This has made it extremely difficult to self-prepare our dogs’ raw meals as we have had to throw away meat that’s gone bad because of a multiple day stretch of believing I would be up for prepping the following day. I have learned to instead freeze our meat on the first day and take it out early morning on the day I feel best able to prepare our dogs’ meals. Often times, I don’t last long enough to prep all of our meat, so back into the freezer it will go until the next morning I feel capable. It’s not worth chancing the loss of meat (and hard-earned money) when you’re trying to keep raw feeding affordable.
Investigate which sources have better deals on different products.
When we first started raw feeding, we only shopped at a butcher shop that was recommended to us. When their chicken breast prices skyrocketed from $1.79/lb to $2.29/lb (at bulk prices, no less), I knew that we had to start considering other options. We soon began shopping around the different grocery stores in the area before finally going to an ethnic market. We were shocked to see the variety of fresh, unfrozen meats they had–many of which were cheaper than at our butcher shop! We still have yet to find a better price on ground meats, chicken feet and chicken hearts from our butcher, but we now shop weekly at the Mexican market. Our greatest score has been getting in touch with a local ranch who processes organic beef for only $2/lb (that’s less than the non-organic at all of the stores in our area!). It’s well worth the time it takes to establish long-lasting relationships with your contacts.