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How To Sell Food From Home

Learning how to sell food from home starts with a great idea! Before you can create a business plan for selling food from home, you must decide what type of food products you want to sell. If you are one of the millions who faithfully tuned in to watch the first ten seasons of Shark Tank, you know that there are dozens of ideas about selling home cooked food to the public.

Shark investors helped entrepreneurs get started selling everything from home-baked cakes to organic baby food. During these exciting on-air applications, the sharks wanted to know about the business plan, selling method and projected cash flow. The business plan creates a guideline to launch and grow a business from the first concept through launching and beyond. The more prepared you are when you launch, or start fundraising, the better you position yourself for success.

Once you've decided on your product, you can learn more about creating an impressive business plan by reading through the resources on The Small Business Administration (SBA) website.

The SBA recommends you do market research and competitive analysis of area businesses similar to your own first, to make sure you have a viable idea. If you can afford it, you should hire a professional team to do this part. Then, write your business plan, calculate startup costs and fund your business with personal cash, bank loans or investor contributions.

Before you officially launch your new business, you'll need to:

  • Choose a business name,
  • Register your business,
  • Apply for local, state and federal licenses and/or permits,
  • Get federal and state ID numbers, and
  • Open a business bank account.

Keep in mind that selling food from home Florida neighbors can buy and selling food from home NYC will have slightly different licensing requirements, depending on what type of business structure you have and whether you are selling made-to-order items or prepackaged entrées.

Do I Need A License To Sell Food From My Home

Assuming you have a good business plan in place, let's answer the most common question people have about starting a food service business: Do I need a license to sell food from my home? The simple answer is, maybe.

Whether you think your appliances and kitchen setup is fine for selling food from home or not, many states require an inspector to approve your location before you can legally hold a vendor license. You may need a permit to sell food from home, from a mobile kitchen, in a concession stand, or through an online platform. Some states have fewer rules than others.

For instance, Florida has flexible Cottage Laws that allow you to sell home cooked food in small-scale settings like farmer's markets and other business-to-consumer settings without a permit. But, if you want to sell to grocery stores, hotels or restaurants, you must a have a permit or license. And remember, Cottage Laws only apply to certain foods that do not typically pose safety risks for consumers. Things like cotton candy, canned sauces — think jams and jellies — popcorn and baked goods are common Cottage Law products.

So, if you're wondering, “Do I need a license to sell homemade food in California,” or another state, ask yourself if you are thinking about selling any of the items on the list below:

  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Fresh meats
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Fresh canned vegetables
  • Dried meat

All the items listed above need to be kept at certain temperatures or for limited times at room temperature to prevent spoilage. In many states, including Florida, Texas and California, selling these items from home is illegal without a permit or license.

How To Sell Food From Home Legally

Learning how to sell food from home legally is essential for success. Food operations owners should always check with their local zoning office to make sure their home-base is zoned for business activity. Therefore, contacting your local health department is a great place to learn what permits and licenses you will need for your locale and business model.

For example, when selling food from home, Illinois has a different set of rules for vendors who make sales at farmer's markets and those who sell their goods at road-side stands and from their residence. Unlike Florida, Illinois rules on selling food from home make it harder for many entrepreneurs to get started. For one thing, you can only sell $1,000 of product each month. And, according to an article published by Institute for Justice, there are rigorous labeling and packing regulations, which could be counted as expenses.

Under the Cupcake Law, Illinois home-bakers can produce and sell up to $1000 monthly, without a permit, as long as the township or municipality has approved a local ordinance adopting the measure.

Basically, it is legal to sell food from home in Illinois, with limitations. Contact the local health department to learn how to get a permit to sell food from home in Illinois.

While Illinois has a state Cupcake Law, selling food from home Washington State laws are often established at the county level. In King County, for instance, food permit applications are approved based on county regulations. For example, the home catering food permit application is a three-step process.

  1. Complete the Use of Commissary/Shared Kitchen Agreement,
  2. Apply for the permit, and submit a copy of your menu, the Agreement and application to the Health Department, and
  3. Request a Field Plan Review

At the time of this article, the Field Plan Review fee was $459.60. There is an additional charge for the permit application, too.

Rules on selling food from home vary from state to state, county to county and sometimes, municipality to municipality. The food permit application may be a simple one-page form, or a lengthy, multi-step process. So, the steps of how to get a permit to sell food from home in California may be totally different from the process for permitting in Cook County home kitchen operations.

You don't have to be an expert in home kitchen operation law. You do have to make the effort to learn how to get a license to sell food in your area. Simply call your local health department and ask, “Can I sell food from my home?” Then, do your best to follow the guidelines provided by the local authorities.

You can become an expert on selling home cooked food to the public in Texas, Washington State, Florida, Chicago, or wherever you live. And, it all starts with one phone call.

How To Make Money Selling Food From Home

We've talked about creating business plans, funding your business and special rules and regulations in different areas of the country. Now, let's talk about how to make money selling food from home profitable.

Whether selling dinners out of your home is your goal, or you want to sell items covered under state Cottage Law, making money hinges on providing food items that are popular in your area. Hot salsa, spicy BBQ sauce and Hatch Chili jelly are popular in Texas. Everyone from coast to coast and border to border loves baked goods.

If you're still on the fence about what type of food products you want to sell, consider the following food ideas to sell from your home.

  • Prepackaged cupcakes,
  • Fresh sourdough bread and buns,
  • Small wedding cakes,
  • Birthday cakes,
  • Flavored nuts and popcorn,
  • Condiments like salsa, B-B-Q sauce and spicy mustard,
  • Granola,
  • Protein bars,
  • Hard candy
  • Seasonal cookies

A great way to test your product is to launch at a local fair or farmer's market. You can also solicit feedback from friends and family you trust to be honest about your product and your price point.

When you offer a tasty home cooked food product at an affordable price and keep your expenses low, you'll be on your way to making money selling food from your home.

Selling Homemade Food Online

Selling homemade food directly consumers to consumers from a food truck is one business model. But, what if you plan to sell homemade food online? Selling food online may mean you're selling to people in other countries.

If this is your goal, you'll want to offer foods that are popular with the culture or country you plan to target. As an example, you may want to learn how selling homemade food online Philippines' residents prefer is different compared to selling homemade food on Amazon that appeals to a broader target audience.

Regardless of what country you plan to sell your products to, maximizing efficiency helps businesses lower operating costs and improve profit margins. Fortunately, if you plan to start an online food business, there are many online resources and tools to help you streamline business operations.

For instance, as you learn how to start online food business from home, you might look for a software platform, such as Castiron, that helps cooks, chefs, bakers and other independent cooks “start, build and grow their businesses,” especially while their in the early stages and still learning.

Small business owners selling homemade food on Amazon have dozens of back office tools at their disposal: There are tech options to help you:

  • Track buying activity
  • Monitor competition
  • Generate reviews
  • Build a new revenue stream
  • Offer alternative purchases
  • Forecast repeat business
  • Support customized customer experiences
  • And, MORE!

You can start a successful brick and mortar or online business selling home-baked food online. To get started, visit the SBA website and check out the Castiron software program that help you start off on the right foot!

Additional Resources

Customer Communication | Food Photography | How to Make Money Baking Cakes From Home | How to Price a Product | How to Promote a Home Baking Business | How to Sell Baked Goods From Your Home | How to Sell Food From Home | How to Sell Homemade Food | How to Sell Homemade Food Legally | Starting a Food Business Checklist

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