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cooking lunchboxes for 30 adults

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Ok, just looking for some inspiration today in planning my next move.

Over the last couple months I had been making "lunchboxes" for the other teachers at my wife's school. I put together a "menu" with a couple of choices on monday and my wife takes it to school, passes it around and on friday i deliver them to the school at lunchtime. I do it about every 2 weeks.

to get an idea of what I was doing:
1. BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters, cheesey mashed potatoes, sweet corn, 2 mini corn muffins
2. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans
3. spaghetti w/garden sauce, tossed salad w/Olive Garden dressing
4. BBQ Pork, cole slaw and baked beans
5. Baked chicken leg quarters, seasoned rice and green beans
6. chef salad (ham, turkey, eggs, cheese, tomato, cukes, mixed greens)

I package them up individually in restaurant style take out containers and throw in one of those fork/knife/s&p/napkin packs. We sell them for $6.00. I think its a fair price for a home cooked meal that is delivered hot to your school. I make the meals/portions as i would eat. I'm not out to "get" anyone, i just love to cook and figure the more practice i can get the better! I try to use the freshed ingredients, but have found that sometimes i have to sacrifice that for timing sake. Its only me, cooking it all in my little apartment kitchen. For instance, the first meal i did, i used ral potatoes. peeled, chopped, boiled, mashed...now i've gone to instant potatoes that i jazz up with things like cheese, sour cream, s&p. For my garden sauce, i i shredded carrots and celery, chopped zucchini, onions, and green peppers. For the beans, I used fresh one time, and frozen the next (using canned beans didnt even cross my mind). Like i said, i make things that I would want to eat, and when I open the box, I want to know that I didnt waste my hard earned money.


SOOOO, with all that said, I am wondering if you can chime in with some other meal suggestions. I'll probably do it a few more times before school lets out for the summer. I do have a friend who is a nurse that was talking about having me do it for her nurse friends on the night shift. I also have a connection at the bank i used to work for at their main office.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!!
post #2 of 13
Good idea. now that weather will be getting warmer, I would shoot for more salad type items. Chinese chicken salad, Dijon tuna and egg salad etc. And yes try and get more customers, as with volume, your cost will go down. Be careful though preparing in your home for retail sale, it is not quite legal in all states to do this.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #3 of 13
As Ed suggests, it's a good idea to check the legalities in your location. Both state and local regs could have an effect.

While you're getting away with it now, this kind of business feeds on itself. And it's better to start by doing things right, then to suddenly be called to task by the health authorities.

Keep in mind, Paula Dean's career started essentially the way you are doing things. So you can see the growth potential.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 13
I'm confused, are you offering choices from your list....in other words you may be making:
chicken 2 ways, meatloaf, chef salad, pork and spaghetti all in one morning with various sides? Even if only one person orders meatloaf?

6 options is considerable with only 30 partakers. $180. Probably covers your food costs, those dang go containers are pricey.....with nominal profit.
How are you plating then keeping it all hot as you package, deliver etc.?

I'm with Ed. salad nicoise, chinese chicken salad, fruit salad with cottage cheese or yogurt, muffins or rolls would be a nice addition.

For groups I like making vegetable soup, cornbread, salad or slaw, deviled eggs. If you are into baking consider brownies, gingerbread, lemon bars, cookies.:p
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
shroomgirl

no no no, i dont offer all of those choices every week. that was what i have done in the past. Typically i offer 2 choices- as in 2 complete meals. You dont get to mix and match sides or anything. it is what it is, take it or leave it...unless my wife is good friends with them and they want something that is an easy switch.

as for the to-go containers...i picked up a pack from Sam's Club of 100 for like $9.00 they are made by Hefty and seem decent quality. i havent had any issues with them.

i cook the meals in the morning, usually starting about 8am and deliver them to her school by 1115-1130. it takes some prep time the night before usually (marinades, vegetable chopping, etc etc)

KYHeirloom and Chef Ed

No I didnt realize thats how Paula got her start. I did look up her "story" after you mentioned it. Interesting!! Maybe I am on to something...haha

As for legalities, I dont even know where to begin. It started just as something between my wife and few of her girlfriends/teachers that eat together that were always waiting to see what she brought as leftovers for lunch...now its turned into me cooking lunches for 30-36ppl when i do it! And like i said a friend who is a nurse has been saying for a while I should do it for her friends on the night shift when she works that one. I dont know what I'm doing. I just love to cook!! Besides, how could I run a "business" out of my apartment?! That seems crazy to me. I only "profit" about $100 each time i do it and have to say, I'm not really doing it for the money. Sure thats a extra bonus and my wife and I can go out to dinner or I buy something nice for her or more likely it just goes for gas money! haha I was laid off in Novemeber so basically this is just me trying to hone my skills while I am looking for a job. I was in banking, but want to make a career change into a kitchen. I dont know the first thing about starting a business...all the legal things i mean. Maybe it is something I should look into...but like I said, where do i even start??? Does anyone know anything about NC rules/regulations?


as for the food ideas, I agree with spring here and summer coming, salads and salad sandwiches might be good to key in on. I dont think something like a hot heavy meatloaf will be as big of a hit when its 90degrees out!

Thanks so much guys, i cant tell you how much I've taken from this forum! I am so glad I found it.


PS: Chef Ed, did you get the PM i sent you the other day about a recipe request?
post #6 of 13
If you decide to follow up on this there are two groups of legalities you have to be aware of.

First are those things pertaining to running a business per se. I would check with the SBA for help in that regard.

Second are those things pertaining to running a food service business in particular. Starting point there is the local Board of Health. Do not tell them you already are doing this. Instead, tell them what you are contemplating doing, and that you need to know what you have to do to be in compliance with health codes.

Once you've done that you'll be in a better position to make a rational decision as to how to proceed.

BTW, if your apartment isn't suitable there are commercial kitchens available for rent. Check with you church, for instance, about using theirs. Etc.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 13
Hi DR, Great Idea and it looks like this could be the beginning of a new business. The only thing I don't like about it is. It looks like your taking alot of short cuts. I have never had anyone come back in my restaurant and brag about instant potatoes. I have had them come back and brag about the killer gravy on the instant potatoes. I think what you need to do is be known for Signiture meals. People need to open the meal and and say Wow look at this, DR's homemade fried chicken, meatloaf, hotbeef sandwich, Homemade meatsauce, killer lasagna, fantastic Gravy, wonderfull Homemabe biscuits and honeybutter, cornbread, homemade everything. If I'm not bragging about your food then its no big deal. If you want this to be more than what it is now, then you need to make it something to brag about.
Ask any Chef on this site if they made their business successful by taking short cuts and taking the easy way out. I already know the answer................Have fun ....Bill
post #8 of 13
meatloaf sandwiches.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hot or Cold?
post #10 of 13
Mr. D Reed
Never got your request, and I looked again. Sorry:chef:
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

recipe request

Chef Ed

I had saw a post by you talking about a mango stuffed chicken? I dont remember all the details of the post or even where I saw it now...I was just browsing the site and came across it.

It sounds like something my wife would love. She's from South Florida and just loves the mango! Our anniversary is next week (3 years!! 3 awesome years) and since money is really tight, I thought maybe I would try something new...this was attractive...if you'll share.

I dont know the rules about asking a professional chef for thier recipes (do chefs tell their tricks of the trade? give their secret recipes?). I dont mean any harm or offense, it just sounds great.


Thanks!
post #12 of 13
cold, red sauce and mayo
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
YES YES YES! I am with you 110% on this Chef Billy! I guess I just need to figure out what "THAT" dish is. I feel I do a bunch of dishes real good...are they "the best" I dont know. I'm my biggest critic and manage to always find something wrong, or something I could have done better/different. (do most chefs think that way???)

I had a thought of doing some sweet bread or some desserty type thing, and just throwing it in each meal as sort of a signature.

As I am thinking outloud, so if i believe that my meatloaf can hang with anyone's (Dave's almost "famous" meatloaf) should I make that a choice each and every week so they always know they have that option, or do i make it sort of a special thing, where they cant get it anytime and it makes it a bigger deal when they can? hmmm, maybe I just answered my own question, but i'd like see what you think.
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