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Are you a great cook? Are your specialties the foods that everyone raves about at every pot luck, or the goodies all your neighbors look forward to receiving as holiday gifts? Do people eat your food and tell you "You could sell this"?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, it is only natural to ask how to make money selling food from home. The first step is getting to know the rules on selling food from home that apply to your city, county, and state.
Some states have a complicated process for getting a permit to sell food from home. Some states don't require any permits at all. Since October of 2021, every state has permitted at least selling naked goods from home, but every state has lists of foods that can and can't be made at home for selling home cooked food to the public.
So, where do you start?
The easiest way to find the information you need to get started with your home food business is to visit the website of your state's department of health. The easiest way to find the right page of the website is to Google "cottage food laws" plus your state's name.
Most of the time, Google will return a summary that says something like this:
"In 2019, the State of Nebraska passed LB 304, a law allowing individuals to sell homemade food. Nebraska had already authorized home bakers to sell baked goods directly to the public at farmers' markets. This bill added a process for getting a permit to sell baked goods directly to the public from home."
This snippet will tell you (1) what kinds of food you can make at home for sale to the public, (2) where you can sell it, and (3) where you need to get your license or permits, if any are required.Then, visit your state or county health department or cottage food website where you submit your application for a permit to sell homemade food.
When you start a business, one of the most important boxes to check is making sure you're set up legally to sell. In various states, you will need:
The kinds of homemade foods that every state allows for sale are those that don't spoil easily. These foods won't need refrigeration. They won'r have a high water content. They will be acidic, since bacteria don't multiply rapidly in acidic food.
The kinds of foods that meet these requirements are fruit pies, cakes that don't have to be refrigerated, cookies, doughnuts, pretzels, chips, and canned goods like salsa, jam, jelly, and pickles. Most states will have very specific lists of foods permitted for sale.
If you are a great cook and you also have digital marketing skills, it is natural to consider how to sell homemade food online. The first thing you need to know is that some states have easy rules for in-person sales of homemade food, but don't allow selling homemade food online. The other thing you need to know is that no state allows you to sell homemade food online for delivery across state lines.
For most home cooks and bakers who want to get into business, it is best to start small and make a name for yourself locally. Then use the resources on this site to expand your business into something big.
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