Sell your homemade food online

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If you love cooking and are used to family and friends lining up for a second helping of your meals, it may be a good idea to supplement your income by selling plates of food from your home. In the past, the food laws in the U.S. were so restrictive that people were not able to sell food products from their homes. Food production had to exclusively take place in certified commercial kitchens.

Fortunately, the passing of the cottage food laws in 2012 has opened the doors for many small-business owners to produce and sell their food products from their homes. There are, however, limitations to which food products you can sell and how much money you’re allowed to make. It is, for instance, not always possible to sell frozen or perishable foods from home. If you have many innovative ideas for selling dinners, read on to find out how to sell food plates from home.

How to Sell Food Plates From Home

Those who are wondering how to sell food plates from home should realize that although there have been severe limitations in the past, it is becoming increasingly possible in various states in the U.S. to do so. Before you get stuck in the nitty-gritties of laws and permits, it may be a good idea to first consider the broad strokes of your home business.

First, you’ll need to decide on a niche and a target audience. You can, for instance, produce healthy foods to sell to business people who are always on the run. Or, you may have innovative ideas for a food business that involves organic produce or comfort food. Whatever your idea, do your homework to ensure that there’s a demand for the food you want to produce. It’s a good idea to research food trends in your area.

Another consideration when you’re starting a home-based business is whether to incorporate it or not. Although you don’t need to do so, incorporating your business is advisable since your personal belongings and assets will be protected in the event that your business doesn’t do well. It’s also a good idea to take out a food business insurance policy so that you’re covered should one of your customers get sick of your food.

Selling Plates Ideas

You may be wondering, “Is selling food from home profitable?” Yes, selling plates from home can be both profitable and enjoyable. There are many creative ideas on the internet when it comes to selling plates that you can draw inspiration from. You can, for instance, decide to focus on cuisine from a specific region, such as Mediterranean or Asian food. Or, you can opt for selling snacks from home.

Regardless of the type of food you decide to produce, you need to ensure that your recipe can be scaled. Remember, as your business grows, you’ll have to be able to produce the product in bulk effectively, otherwise, your business will likely not be profitable.

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Permit To Sell Food From Home

The cottage food laws, which were passed back in 2012, have made it possible for small-scale entrepreneurs to sell food products from home. The catch is that the list of food products that you’re able to sell under these laws is limited to non-perishable goods in most states. The list of permitted food products includes:

If you’re wondering whether you need a permit to sell food from home, the answer is that it depends on the state. While some states require that cottage food producers have licenses and/or permits, others don’t. For instance, whereas you need some sort of license and/or permit to sell food from home in Massachusetts, you don’t need a permit to sell from home in Michigan and you also don’t need a permit to sell food from home in NC.

How to get a license to sell food varies from state to state. Some states, such as Alaska, for instance, require that cottage food producers have a business license, while states like Washington require a food and beverage service worker’s permit. A state like Utah, on the other hand, requires a valid food handler’s permit.

Although the way that the cottage food laws have been created and implemented in the different states vary, there are common elements when it comes to how to sell food from home legally. Under the cottage food laws, you’re allowed to sell from your home, farmer’s markets, and non-profit venues such as churches. While you’re allowed to sell directly to the consumer, you cannot sell your food products to retailers or restaurants. Most states have placed a limit on the amount of money you can make through selling food products from home. Also, almost all states have labeling requirements.

How to Make Money Selling Food From Home

Although you may be tempted to sell the food that you like to eat or make, you should always remember that your business idea needs to be profitable. How to actually make money selling food from home should be your number one priority.

This means that when it comes to home food to sell ideas, there are multiple factors to consider. First, you need to ensure that you’ll be able to make the product in bulk. Your business will not be profitable if your recipe is not scalable. Second, opt for recipes that have fewer ingredients. Doing so will save you time and money. You also need to consider how easy or difficult it will be for you to source your ingredients.

Lastly, you should consider your packaging. Using minimal packaging will obviously also save you on costs. You don’t, for instance, necessarily need to sell your food on plates. Try to come up with an innovative packaging idea that will save you money and will also be easy for your customers to handle.

If you want to make money, you’ll need to investigate the possibility of selling your product online. While the selling of food products online was largely prohibited in the past, many states have adjusted their laws and regulations in the last few years to allow for online sales. You can start off by using your social media accounts to market your product, but as your business grows you’ll want to create your own website.

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Selling Home Cooked Food to the Public

As you’ve probably noticed, the cottage food laws mostly only allow for the selling of non-perishable goods. So, what are the rules on selling food from home? The good news is that because of Covid, many states have passed new food laws in the last two years that have broadened the scope of what cottage food producers are allowed to sell. For instance, the Montana Food Freedom Law, which was signed into law in April 2021, has made it possible for food entrepreneurs to sell food from their homes. You are also allowed to sell food plates in states such as Oklahoma, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

Unfortunately, selling home-cooked food to the public is still not allowed in many states. For instance, selling cooked meals or similar food from home in Florida is still not allowed, and so is selling food from Washington state. So, before you start thinking about an app for selling home-cooked food or investigating whether your state permits selling homemade food online, you first need to check whether you’re allowed to produce and sell perishable goods in your state.

Selling Food From Home California 2021

So, what about selling food from home in California? If you’re a resident in this state, you’ll be happy to learn that California is one of a handful of states that do allow the selling of homemade meals from home. Although the cottage food laws in California don’t allow for the selling of non-perishable goods, new laws that were passed in 2018 and 2021 have expanded the rights of cottage food producers.

Under the Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO), which was passed in 2019, home-based entrepreneurs are able to sell food plates, including those that contain meat, from home. There’s a caveat, however. The county in which you live needs to opt into this law. Up-to-date, many counties in California are yet to adopt this law, so you’ll need to check whether your county allows for the selling of food plates. If it does, you’ll need to find out how to sell food from home legally. You do, for instance, need a permit and also food handler training.

Selling Food From Home Chicago

Unfortunately, the Illinois cottage food law prohibits the selling of homemade goods. Selling food from home in Chicago is, therefore, still not possible. As is the case in most states, you’re allowed to sell non-perishable food items from home, which excludes many foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish, green leaves, fresh tomatoes, and refrigerated baked goods. If you decide to sell permitted food items, such as jellies or bread, you’ll need a home kitchen license in Illinois. The state also requires food handler training.

In the past, people haven't been able to sell their home cooked food. But laws are changing. Learn about the laws surrounding home cooked food sales today!

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!

Amanda McMonigle

The Whimsical Cookie


Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.

Kim Sims

Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets


Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.

Katie Maschoff

Mill City Cooking Company


Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.

Daniella Smith

Oso Good Clean Eats


I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!

Ali Serpe

Kultured Kombucha


I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.

Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.

Join Castiron 100% risk-free

Explore our tools for free during a 14-day free trial. Start building your website, create your custom order forms, even start taking orders and payments... then decide if it’s for you.

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Easy to start, created specifically for local, handmade food: Castiron’s website builder was created to help you grow. Create a website in minutes with our templates, sell where and how your customers want to buy, and look professional without being technical. Keep customers coming back with email marketing tools, customer records, and more.

The Best Fit for Your Food Business

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.

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