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Many people who love to cook or bake have always dreamed of owning a restaurant to showcase their signature dishes. And thankfully, in today's peer-based economy, learning how to start a food business from home or sell food online could be the perfect way to make your dreams come true without all the risks associated with a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Here we will provide some food business from home ideas and what, if any, licenses or permits to sell food directly from home to meet local health guidelines and state laws.
Yes, you can make a good profit by selling your baked goods or pre-cooked meals directly from home, but like any other business, you must do your research to discover the legal side of a home-based food service business. But first, start with a business plan that outlines the following in detail:
And, to make sure your new venture is known and seen within the community or on the internet, you will need to become familiar with advertising and marketing platforms. Consider a home-based food service platform provider that offers a single, easy-to-use app to sell your goods, manage the orders you receive, and a place to respond to customer requests or feedback.
Before you decide to start a food business from home, research your state's cottage food laws to understand what foods you can prepare and sell from home. Cottage food laws are established to protect the public from foodborne illnesses that can easily be transmitted by certain foods or when foods are not prepared, stored, and packaged correctly.
A few states allow people to sell homemade foods that are perishable. Perishable foods represent foods that spoil easily, like milk-based products, meats, and even veggies. Any foods that have a limited shelf life, meaning the product may decay or become unsafe for consumption before being eaten, are also considered perishable.
But there are many non-refrigerated food products that are totally fine for preparing and selling directly from your home kitchen.
Easy food to sell to make money that is permissible in most states includes jams, cookies, cakes, pies, breads, biscuits, muffins, coffees, teas, popcorn and any other foods that don't require refrigeration, freezing or precise handling to remain safe.
If you plan to cook and sell meals from your home or online that are not cottage foods, then your home becomes a food establishment, and you will need a food establishment permit that details your commitment to keeping patrons safe. This may include some required food safety training and a kitchen inspection by the state health department, along with a business permit that will establish your company as a tax-paying entity.
In addition to a business permit, all states require you to have a food service license. The type of food permit or license may depend on how you operate. For example, a food truck that has no seating may require a food vendor's license. A license to sell food from home is typically given after you complete an accredited food safety program and pass a home inspection.
You must do the research for your state's requirements for food permits and licenses. For example, you will need to acquire New Jersey's home bakery license application to sell any kind of baked goods from home. Other states only require this if your baked good sales are going to total over a certain dollar amount.
Selling your recipes from a home kitchen can also be fun or creative. Start by picking a unique name for your business. For example, maybe your last name is unique, similar to how Einstein Bagels. Maybe your menu is all about eating healthy. Words like harvest or greenery can be key to a good name.
Take advantage of your business being home-based and put a personal spin on your marketing campaigns. Anything that ties in to your community would be good for selling food from home locally. Organic foods, homemade jams, baby food, and Grandma's recipes can be turned into innovative ideas for food business.
With your menu selected, your kitchen ready to go, and all your permits and licenses in order, you can now start building your online food-based store. With an online store, locals can find you, mull over your menu, make selections, and pay for the food prep and delivery all in one convenient location.
Finally, be consistent and creative with your brand. Use colorful graphics, a unique type of font, a cute or witty tagline, all of which will distinguish you from your competition and make a memorable impression on your customers.
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