Frozen raw is not as expensive as the freeze dried raw, so you might start with that, unless there are reasons you want to avoid raw. Benjamin was doing well on the Nature's Variety Instinct, varying between beef and turkey, for quite some time. Then I switched to Stella and Chewy's because it's a few bucks cheaper. He is getting the Surf and Turf (beef and salmon). Hey, he eats better than I do! When he was a puppy (he's almost 5 now) I consulted with a canine nutritionist, Sabine, who Dave recommends. She created a custom home cooked diet for him, which I dutifully cooked every week as I don't have a large freezer to store things in. Sabine's consultation rates are quite reasonable, I think, and it was worth it to me because at the time I too was feeling overwhelmed about all of the choices, and wanted to give him the best I could afford. I didn't want to deal with feeding home made raw because you have to mess with a lot of yucky ingredients (that was my take on it, I'm sure a lot of people don't mind), but the great thing about Sabine's diets is that you tell her what ingredients you and/or your dog likes, and she will work with that. The diet she created for me consisted of ground beef and turkey, several vegetables, and a vitamin mixture that is specific to your dog, along with some eggs and fruit a few times a week. I stopped using this as his primary diet because, to be honest, I don't much like cooking and I got tired of it. However, if you want to feed your dog really healthy food at minimal cost, I think this is the way to go. Just don't try to do it on your own, because you might be missing some important nutrients which could have a very bad effect in the long run. I actually do cook up this recipe about once a month, and feed it to him for about a week out of the month, which saves me some money. I don't even bother tapering him from one to the other any more, as it doesn't seem to bother him when I switch, but when he was younger I would give him half of that and half of the other food for a few days when I was switching between them.
Anyhoo... all of that is to say, it can
be overwhelming at first. However, one thing I've learned is that we are lucky to have so many good choices, and I don't think it matters that much as long as you're picking a good one and your dog likes it. How do you know if it's a good one? Check the Dog Food Adviser website, and choose one that has 5, or at least 4 stars. If the dog likes it and is healthy, you're good! Oh, and try to relax and enjoy the ride. I think I spent too much time worrying and obsessing when he was a puppy.