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The rise of home-based chefs selling home cooked food to the public has caused a wave of new at-home cook apps, order and delivery platforms, and culinary business websites to flourish. Why? Maybe because more people are at home these days, and fewer people are dining out. No doubt, it has become more difficult to get an open delivery slot at your favorite supermarket. And, the often empty shelves and long lines at grocery stores have caused more people to turn to apps like Yummit, HelloFresh and the Fromahome app to help select, cook, or order foods locally.
Many technologies have emerged that are enabling more people to start an at-home food business. Software developers continue to improve on the app to sell homemade food, building in features that support business operations like mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems that accept credit and debit card payments, apps for inventory tracking, and online ordering.
Toss in the proliferation of apps specifically designed to support local cooks offering home-cooked meals delivered within an hour, and the result is an entirely new set of cottage industry startups that include Yummist, Savorly, and HomeMade.
New players like Yummit provide a platform for cooks to sell freshly prepared, home cooked meals locally. Even some old players like HomeChef that have been delivering pre-portioned meal kits to homes are adding more localized features. Then others, like the Shark Tank promoted business, Plated, have closed down operations, likely due to struggles to successfully handle logistics or pivot into new opportunities.
One thing is certain, an app for selling home cooked food is critical to a home-based chef or food delivery service. Consider the HomeMade app, which is targeted to people selling food from home. These home chefs may even work another job or might not have the culinary skills or space to support a full menu. For them, HomeMade provides a platform where they can concentrate on cooking and selling their signature dishes only, like healthy slaw, lobster mac and cheese, or firehouse chili.
Now is the perfect time for aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs to start selling homemade food online. Maybe you already have experience selling homemade food at craft fairs, and you know what your niche foods or target audience will be. It is important to be streamlined and have a narrow focus in the beginning. So, instead of offering a menu of lunch items, concentrate on your spectacular veggie burgers and sweet potato fries instead.
Or maybe you are skilled in regional cuisines. Then selling food online UK or selling homemade food online Philippines can be your target demographic. Cooking from home to sell locally will be easier to store and safer to deliver. And, that brings us to knowing your local and regional laws and regulations. Most states require at home food sales to follow cottage food laws.
Be prepared for some form of kitchen inspection, and make sure to obtain clearance from a local zoning department, the local department of agriculture, or your department of health. Also, make sure you have a business license before you start selling home made food online. And finally, if you haven't taken formal culinary classes, then make sure you learn proper food handling and storage to prevent food borne illness — some states may require this.
You may want to avoid selling homemade food on Amazon as you get started. Selling foodstuffs on Amazon will require approval for interstate commerce and each product must have a unique identifier or UPC that is trackable and traceable. Instead, learn how to sell homemade food on another platform, like Castiron.
Another niche market to explore is home cooked food delivery. DishDivvy is an example of a lateral opportunity in online homemade food delivery. The company acts as a middleman, supplying a mobile app that connects people looking for homemade delivery with pre-approved home cooks in their area. The company vets all cooks that are posted on their platform with on-site inspections, interviews, and proof of food safety training.
Do your research by investigating some existing home cooked food delivery service providers to get insight on how to deliver home made food online. Great examples to follow include Blue Apron, Purple Carrot, Sunbasket, and Home Chef. Online homemade food delivery can consist of providing meal ingredients along with detailed instruction on food prep and cooking.
Blue Apron offers recipes every week on the food that is delivered to your home. Members can choose from a rotating mix of meat, fish, or plant-based entrees in a variety of serving quantities. Or, you can focus on a target group like Purple Carrot that supplies vegetarian-only meal prep kits for homemade delivery. Consumers have come to discover the many benefits of online homemade food delivery, including:
And don't forget that home kit meals are very popular because they save busy people time and money. This includes the time it takes to shop at the market, the cost of fuel, and no more buying more of an ingredient than what the recipe requires.
It will be necessary to learn the business side and the rules on selling food from home. First, you will need a business license and a permit to sell food from home. Each state, city, and county may have different requirements. But also check your local zoning rules to make sure your home is in the right location for a business. Your local Small Business Administration (SBA) will also be a good resource. Also, much information can be found on local and federal websites for the application process and what fees will be charged.
Financial tips on how to start a small cooking business from home include laying out a detailed business plan. Outline all your startup costs for inventory, cooking equipment, online ordering technology, advertising, and delivery. Don't forget to include overhead costs like the extra electricity, natural gas, water, computer equipment, and packaging supplies you will be using.
If at all possible, talk to others that have learned how to sell food from home legally. A great way to get your feet wet before going all in is to learn how to sell homemade snacks online. This will be less expensive and can give you the experience required to increase your menu options while also building a customer base.
There are rules on selling food from home that apply to individuals and not businesses. For instance, selling homemade food in Canada or in the US is allowed as long as you're not selling to another business like a restaurant or grocery store. Some states require that the food preparers take and pass a food handling and food safety training course and certification before opening for business.
The most commonly asked question from home chefs is, “Do I need a license to sell food from my home?” Legally, in all states the answer in yes. An excellent resource to review can be found at Cottage Food Laws by State: Selling Your Homemade and Home-Canned Foods.
In some U.S. states, there are foods that are prohibited from being cooked and sold from a person's home. While you can sell plates of food, check with your state regulations to see what foods are not allowed. This may include ice cream, and some meat or poultry products, and dairy products — generally items that require refrigeration are not supported by cottage food laws. There are plenty of examples of easy food to sell to make money like homemade applesauce, homemade candies and cookies, breads, and flavored popcorns.
Selling dinners out of your home is another way to operate a home based food service. This can be especially profitable when you partner with local churches, community centers, and non-profit organizations. Learn how to make money selling food from home by starting small. Then grow into selling prepackaged food online or selling plates of food.
Maybe you will decide to operate seasonally. During the spring and summer, foods cooked outdoors on a grill will be fast sellers. And, you can certainly sell plates of food or specialty foods during holiday seasons and sports playoff seasons. Another easy food to sell can be found in niche markets. Consider centering your food business around a certain target audience, like health-conscious people who love a great homemade hummus and veggie plate, herbal smoothies, grain bowls, and super salads.
And finally, you can always think outside the box. Invest in a good smoker, and you will have all the neighborhood salivating for your smoked turkey, fish, peppers, applewood smoked chicken, or smoked lobster tails. With this idea, you may want to add a subscription service that includes various smoked items that you prepare and make available each year, at the same time of year.
No matter which path you take to selling food from home, you will certainly find plenty of technology support and apps to sell homemade food.
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