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Waste Not!: Animal Treats

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January 24, 2024

When you pay for high quality, nutritious food that is expensive, you treat it like gold.  It’s precious, and you don’t want to waste it.  

For example, whenever my family and I get behind on our milk consumption and we have more milk than we know what to do with, we use the sour milk in our cakes, pancakes, mashed potatoes, creamy soups, mac and cheese and whatever other recipes we can come up with.  We also try to get the most out of our meat.  Whether we have lamb chops or pork chops, T-bone steak or chicken, we always save our bones in the freezer until we have enough to make a bone broth.  We put our bones in the instant pot along with some veggies and let it go for hours.  We mash up the bones to release the marrow and let it go again for a few more hours.  After we strain our broth, we are left with bits of meat, fat, skin, marrow and mushy bones.  My husband, being the creative and resourceful person that he is, came up with the idea of making these scraps into treats for our cats.  It's amazing that we get three uses out of our meat: dinner, broth and treats.  We are literally using up the meat until there is absolutely nothing left!  Think of the money we are saving.  6 quarts of organic broth and organic cat treats!

Our cats love them!  We have had dogs come to visit our house, and they love these little treats, too!    

Here's what you need…

  • Meat and bone scraps left over from making bone both (about 4 cups)
  • About ¼ c water
  • A blender or food processor
  • Spatula
  • Tablespoon
  • Cookie sheet
  • Freezer space
  • Freezer friendly bag or container
  • Parchment paper (optional)

Here's what you do…

After you make a batch of bone broth (chicken, beef, etc.) and strain the broth, take the scraps left behind and place them into a blender or food processor. You will want to make sure the bones are soft and mushy enough to break up between your fingers.  Hard bones can damage the blades of your appliance.  Bones that do not break up easily could also cause your pet to choke.  Be careful and thorough when checking your bones! 

Add about ¼ c. of water to your meat mixture and blend for about 20 seconds.  Use a small spatula and move the mixture around by scraping the sides to ensure that all the pieces are being incorporated.  Check the consistency of your mixture.  If it is too thick and dry, add some more water.  I suggest a paste-like consistency that can hold its form on a spoon.  Once you have determined that the bone pieces are small and the consistency is good, put your mixture into a bowl.

    Using a tablespoon, scoop a spoonful of the mixture and place it on a cookie sheet.  The cookie sheet that you use needs to be small enough to fit in your freezer. You can place them as close together as you want without them touching.  Once all of the mixture is gone or your cookie sheet is full, place it in the freezer.  Feel free to use a power or super freeze option if you have it.  Leave the treats in the freezer for a few hours or until they are solid. 

Once they are solid and fully frozen, take the cookie sheet out of the freezer and let it thaw for a few minutes.  Check and see if you can remove the treats with your fingers.  Once you are able to remove them, place them in a freezer bag or freezer safe container of your choice.  You may want to layer your treats with parchment paper in case they freeze together over time.  Sometimes my treats freeze together and I have to break pieces off.  If I can’t break them apart, I let them thaw in a container in the refrigerator and try to use them up. 

Some things to consider when turning your scraps into pet treats…

Are your carcasses/ bones left over from a recipe that contains ingredients or spices that may be harmful to your pet?  Do your own research. Sometimes I use spices like cardamom, anise, green chilis, garlic, onions and other exciting ingredients in my dishes.  Even when adding veggies to your stock, consider that some items like onion and garlic can be toxic to pets in certain doses.         

How to serve…

             I usually thaw these in advance and serve at fridge temp or room temp.  I serve these treats in my cat’s bowl or on her food mat.  They can be messy!  I have seen dogs and cats eat them frozen!  Find whatever works for your pet.

Since these treats are small, it’s up to you how many treats you want to give your pet.  You can even make the treats bigger if you have a bigger pet.  I call these ‘treats’ because I don’t know how much nutritional value is still left behind in these scraps.  They may not be nutritious enough to be a meal replacement.  I do know that they don’t contain harmful preservatives and additives found in commercial treats and pet food.  I also know that I haven’t met an animal that doesn’t like them!

How do you keep food from going to waste?  Let us know in the comment section!

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