The cottage food industry continues to grow and home chefs are always looking for new ways to sell their homemade creations. Most states have laws that allow you to cook food at home and sell it directly to consumers. Laws vary greatly from state to state but you need a permit or license to start a home food business in many states.
Selling food online helps home chefs become established and develop a loyal customer base. There are many apps that take care of the administrative part of gathering orders and tracking inventory. These apps, discussed below, also help home chefs ensure that they aren't exceeding the maximum number of meals mandated by state law, where applicable.
Both state and local governments may have cottage food laws governing how, when and where you can sell home chef meals. For example, if you are a baker, state laws govern what baked goods you can prepare at home and how many items you could sell. A few states allow cottage food to be sold in grocery stores and restaurants. However, the vast majority limit where you can sell home cooked food to places like farmers markets and direct to consumers.
You can open a food business from your home. Most home chefs offer a small menu of food items that they sell through various channels. You have to find out if you can sell to restaurants and other commercial food businesses. Typically, you cannot sell wholesale, so some home chefs distribute their food via direct delivery or food trucks, among many other channels.
While the laws in your state may vary from those in other areas of the country, most cottage food laws have certain things in common, such as the following:
You can find many easy-to-use apps that will put your food in front of customers browsing on their favorite chef apps. These apps include Castiron, Dishdivvy, Yummit and many others.
Finding the right app to sell your food is just part of the equation. You also need to find a dependable delivery app that will get your culinary art into the hands of hungry consumers quickly.
When you Google “home cooked food delivery near me,” conventional delivery services such as Uber Eats and DoorDash may come up. However, these apps aren't always an option for home chefs. You’ll need to find a company for “homemade food delivery near me” that doesn't require you to have a commercial kitchen.
If you live in a state that requires a commercial kitchen in order to deliver your food via Uber Eats and similar apps, you either have to find another way to sell your food or partner with someone who does have a commercial kitchen. Uber for home cooked food delivery doesn’t work if you have no commercial address. In most cases, you also need a commercial address to obtain your license to sell food online.
If you want to register with a regular home food delivery app, you often need a commercial address. Otherwise, online homemade food delivery companies such as DoorDash will likely reject your application.
So, what can a home chef do to secure a listing with a homemade food delivery app? For homemade food delivery service, you’ll need to partner with a dedicated home cooked food delivery app that takes the needs of cottage food business owners into account. If you don't need commercial space to run your business, there are many options. Consider Castiron, Dishdivvy, Homefoodi, Homemade and similar apps designed for home chefs. While you make your creations, the apps find customers to eat them.
You may wonder how much you will pay for these specialized homemade food delivery services. Many of these companies charge you a percentage of the bill to deliver your food. For example, you can join Dishdivvy for free, but the company takes 15% to market your food. So, you'll have to take that into account when setting your prices.
Let’s look at some of the key players in this space. Castiron is a relatively new platform in this space. Canners, bakers, cooks, jammers and other artisans are flocking to Castiron and platforms like it. Gone are the days when home chefs have to take orders via email, text or DMs.
Castiron offers many value-added tools such as the ability to track inventory, send messages to customers and make menu changes. The platform makes it easy to set your inventory to maximums if your local or state cottage food laws have them.
Online food selling apps such as Yummit broaden the market for homemade chefs. People can buy or sell home cook meals using their mobile devices or computers. This includes ready to eat or takeout meals. There are no startup costs to use Yummit and you can include the cut taken by Yummit in your pricing. If you are a homemade food startup, platforms such as Castiron and Yummit play a vital role in connecting you with customers.
Another popular homemade food app is aptly named Homemade. The Homemade app was created by two friends to allow local cooks to provide food for customers in search of home cooked meals they don't have to make themselves.
The Shef app is still in the works. However, customers can still use the website to grow their business. This San Francisco company gives immigrant chefs an opportunity to share their ethnic dishes. Shef reviews commend the platform for allowing amateur chefs to become food creators for paying customers. It's also a great place to learn about the best ways to market your cottage food business online.
Dishdivvy allows you to prepare meals as far ahead in the future as you wish. So, you can place food items for one day or schedule them months ahead of time. You can also set the exact hours you are available to make meals, which allows you to operate your home restaurant on your own terms. Dishdivvy limits the number of orders placed for single dishes and marks items “sold out” once you run out of inventory.
Choose from the apps above or select another app for selling home cooked food to kickstart your business.
What would your ideal home chefs app include? There are many ways to evaluate an app before staking your reputation to it. For example, you can look for home chef reviews to better understand what current and previous clients think of the platform.
Other considerations include whether the app allows consumers to provide feedback for their home made food service. Reviews and feedback allow you to better understand what you're getting right and how you can improve your business. It also gives you an opportunity to interact with customers who leave positive or negative comments. You could win back customers with discounts if they didn't like the meal and reward loyal customers with loyalty perks such as periodic free or discounted meals.
You can concentrate on what you would like to cook from home when you find an app that has built-in SEO optimization. It would not hurt to contact the top companies and ask them to walk through the process of setting up a store and choose a platform for your homemade food business that makes it easy to set up and change menu items.
Ideally, when customers search for “homemade food near me,” your cottage food business will pop up in the search results. In order to make this happen, you need to choose a proactive home chef app with savvy marketing strategies.
Choose a home chef app that:
When selling home cooked food to the public, it's important to partner with the right app that can help you come up in local search results. You also need a partner that will help you make the most of each sale and that includes looking at companies that take smaller percentages of the meal price.
Once you have fulfilled the legal requirements for permits and licensing in your state, you can begin selling your food at farmers markets, from food trucks and directly to your consumers. However, you can cast a much wider net by partnering with the right home chef app that doesn't require a commercial business license, attracts customers to your menu items and delivers them to your hungry clients.
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I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.
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Food entrepreneurs, this is your moment. Your community is more and more conscious about what they buy and where it is from. They want food made with love. With ingredients they can pronounce. And they want to support their community while doing it.
Castiron is the best fit for your food business because we're not a one-size-fits-all tool. Selling local food is different from pre-packaged warehouse products. Whether you sell cooking classes, need local pick up, utilize pre-sales to plan inventory, or need a fully custom order form — we got you.
No code required. Add pages, sell your products, build order forms, and show off your beautiful work. We'll handle the tech so you can focus on growing your food business.
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