How to start a homecooked meal delivery service

Written by fatima farakh
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How to start a homecooked meal delivery service
A homecooked meal delivery business lets you focus on providing good quality, hygenic meals. (meal image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

The constant demand for wholesome, homecooked meals makes opening a homecooked delivery business a great idea. The set-up is relatively easy, and you don't have to deal with many hassles commonly associated with the restaurant businesses. In a homecooked delivery business, meal plans can change weekly. You can cook in advance and then store items in the freezer to save time and ease the process of making meals. With a homecooked delivery service, you can provide delicious and nutrient-rich meals to your customers and earn a modest income.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Catering license
  • State licenses
  • Commercial kitchen
  • Chefs
  • Menu plan
  • Kitchen and catering equipment
  • Vehicle
  • Marketing plan

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Start planing the meal preparation site. You will need to either build your own commercial kitchen or rent a space at a local community centre until your budget allows you to find a place of your own. If you decide to use your own kitchen as the preparation site, ensure that it has sufficient space for refrigeration, proper hobs, counters and a small office space to process orders. Make sure to acquire the necessary permits for the kitchen. Ask your local state offices regarding any additional licensing that may be required for your kitchen.

  2. 2

    Obtain a catering license. Before you begin your homecooked meal delivery service, you must obtain a catering license. Contact your local government office to find out which state agency is responsible for issuing a catering license. It could be the local health department or a different food agency. Submit the application and wait for approval.

  3. 3

    Familiarise yourself with the state regulations for hygiene, food handling, safety, liability insurance, employee handling and management. You will be dealing with regular inspections from the health department, so guarantee that your equipment, cleaning and processing services meet their standards to avoid any penalties.

  4. 4

    Develop meal plans for your customers. Narrow down your target audience, such as retired senior citizens, college students or working adults. Create a menu that will cater to your audience and appeal to them. Keep your management and preparation costs low in the beginning by offering a simple menu. You will have to have a set plan of meals that you can prepare and refrigerate in advance if possible.

  5. 5

    Find chefs that will help you prepare your meals and work in the kitchen. You will need to file for employee state licensing on their behalf. Visit the United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA) website to find chefs.

  6. 6

    Purchase catering equipment, packaging supplies, plates, cups, soap bowls, forks, spoons and other items essential for your delivery service. Make sure that you meet the state regulations in terms of labelling your meals. Please refer to the FDA's Food Labeling Guide.

  7. 7

    Buy a reliable meal delivery vehicle that meets the state regulations. Consider hiring a driver to deliver your meals or simply deliver them yourself in the beginning to cut costs.

  8. 8

    Develop a marketing plan. You may decide to market your services to a larger area beyond the local neighbourhood. Use flyers, brochures and word-of-mouth to spread the news about your new homecooked meal delivery service.

  9. 9

    Create a database of all your current and prospective contacts. Send them menus and samples of your meals, or call them and offer them special deals and discounts. Provide good quality meals and maintain a friendly and reliable service.

Tips and warnings

  • Develop a website where customers can order meals online. This can also be another marketing method for your meal delivery business.
  • Keep a spare delivery vehicle just in case you have an increase in orders.
  • Save money by purchasing wholesale equipment and supplies.

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