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Recently, we tested out a couple dehydrated meatless pre-mixes that I got as free samples from a local pet boutique. I hadn’t been very interested in this stuff in the past, as frankly, it seemed economically silly to pay for this insta-food when you’re adding your own meat — the actual meal. It’s sort of like springing for soup and stew flavoring powder mixes, when it’s really not that hard to shake your own blend of spices into a pot of meat and water.

But the idea of these pre-mixes is to offer a means to balance a meal with high quality ingredients (more nutritionally dense than canned or kibble), yet still easy to prepare and customize. Feeding the Bows just the raw ground turkey that I had stockpiled in previous months wouldn’t be enough. So blending it with these formulas would help round out and add some variety to their diet.

We tried these two brands —

Grandma Lucy's Artisan Pre-mix

Grandma Lucy’s Artisan Pre-mix (2 oz. trial size)

Ingredients: Potatoes, flax, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, apples, bananas, blueberries, cranberries, garlic, rosemary, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Niacin, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium, manganese, chloride, copper, magnesium, pyridoxine, cyanocobalamin

Guaranteed analysis:

  • Crude protein, min. 13.5%
  • Crude fat, min. 9%
  • Crude fiber, max. 9%
  • Moisture, max. 10%
  • Calcium, min. 1%
  • Phosphorus, min. 0.37%
  • Magnesium, max 0.16%

Honest Kitchen Preference

Honest Kitchen Preference (1 oz. trial size, says it makes about 1/4 cup of food)

Ingredients: Dehydrated sweet potatoes, organic alfalfa, cabbage, organic coconut, apples, spinach, zucchini, bananas, celery, organic kelp, honey, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate.

Guaranteed analysis:

  • Protein, min 12%
  • Fat, min 6%
  • Fiber, 10% max
  • Moisture, 10% max
  • Calcium, 1.67% [dry matter basis], 0.76% hydrated*
  • Phosphorus, 0.71% [dry matter basis], 0.33% hydrated*
  • Magnesium, 0.24% [dry matter basis], 0.11% hydrated*

* not on package, information from the Honest Kitchen’s nutrient profiles.

Both were prepared the same way — rehydrated and mixed with ground turkey, served at dinner time.

Grandma Lucy's Artisan Pre-mix
Grandma Lucy’s Artisan Pre-mix

vs.

Honest Kitchen Preference + raw turkey
Honest Kitchen Preference

Both were very easy to rehydrate, with instructions claiming that five minutes is all it takes. I found this certainly to be true for Grandma Lucy’s, as everything reconstituted almost immediately into a thick, mashed potatoey goo. It smelled great, and I sampled a bit and found it to be quite a smooth blend.

Grandma Lucy's Artisan Pre-mix
Grandma Lucy’s, sans meat

Grandma Lucy's + raw turkey
Grandma Lucy’s, with raw ground turkey

However, I usually find that it’s better to rehydrate Honest Kitchen for longer than their recommended time, and Preference was no exception. The mix was still fairly rough after soaking for five minutes (yes, I sampled this one too), so I let it sit for about fifteen minutes. Not a huge time difference to me, though every minute just ramped up the anticipation for the Bows.

Bowdu sits nicely for his Honest KitchenBowpi does not sit nicely for her Honest Kitchen
One of these Bows sits politely for his Honest Kitchen; the other one is too eager to keep her butt planted!

If you visit Grandma Lucy’s very flashy Artisan site, there’s a fabulous chart comparing their products to other dehydrated and raw foods currently on the market, including Honest Kitchen, Sojos (which we were offered but bypassed, given the memory of our food failure with this brand), Stella & Chewy’s, and ZiwiPeak (which do not offer meatless pre-mixes). By their calculations —

  • 3 pounds of Artisan Pre-mix selling for a MSRP of $19.60 would make 17 pounds of food, averaging $1.15/meal for a 30 pound dog.
  • 3 pounds of HK Preference selling for a MSRP of $27.50 would make 12 pounds of food, averaging $1.15/meal for a 30 pound dog.

I’m a little confused by the feeding guidelines. Artisan recommends using 1.5 ~ 2 cups of dry mix for an “average” 20 ~ 30 pound dog (that’s what it says on the package, though it says the same thing for their complete formulas). For dogs up to 30 pounds, HK recommends 1/3rd ~ 1/2 cup of dry mix with enough meat to round it out to approximately 1 cup of food total, with a higher meat-to-Preference ratio for more active dogs. So it seems like each company has different expectations for how much a dog is supposed to eat in a day. At any rate, the Bows fall somewhere on the lower side of both suggested ranges; you should adjust accordingly.

The price per meal also seems to be calculated according to a single-feeding day (we feed two meals a day). Price-wise, these two brands are evenly matched. Both brands come out at nearly the same Kcal/cup (HK: 398; GL: 399), so even though the Artisan Pre-mix ultimately makes more food, you are expected to mix in less HK Preference to balance out a meal.

In terms of ingredients, my human nose found the Artisan Pre-mix to smell more appetizing than HK, but I think I was drawn to the combined aroma of potatoes and garlic. Some people prefer to leave garlic out of dog food. The Bows have never had a problem with garlic in small amounts, so I personally have no problem with seeing it in the formula.

However, we much rather prefer sweet potatoes, the leading ingredient for HK Preference. Though it’s the first item on the list, this blend appears very green and vegetation-dense. Like Grandma Lucy’s, all HK foods are manufactured in the United States, and sourced domestically whenever possible. In the final lap, the Honest Kitchen pulls slightly ahead because they use higher quality ingredients, and the company maintains a level of transparency, accountability, and customer responsiveness that we have found to be unmatched.

Since this was just a brief sample and not an extended trial, no letter grade is assigned to this review. We liked and would happily try both products again.

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