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Home-based Caterer

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 



Looking for guidance on a newly developing home-based family catering business.  I have been providing meals for 2 families for about 5 months now and see the potential to grow the business. I am particularly looking for info on take out containers.  My meals are family portions (ex, lasagna, steamed vegetables, bread).  Once I open up for "the public" I don't want to overspend on containers but do want them to be of a good quality that can be frozen and microwaved.

 Quite frankly, I don't know what I don't know so any suggestions, things to consider that you may recommend - in regards to the containers and in general - are welcomed. 




post #2 of 7

Welcome in. There are many online sources with descriptions matching your outlined parameters, like freezability,

and you should be able to get what you need locally from warehouse type stores like Costco, restaurant

depot etc. Cheapest way to go about it.


Was curious, are you currently providing these 2 families by making their meals at their home, or are you

transporting it to them already prepared? If the first, youre more or less acting as a Personal Chef.

If the latter, you're acting as a caterer. You didn't mention your location..... here in the US it is basically illegal to 

cater food to the public out of your home in every state. The minute you transport the meal to the client you're

required to be licensed by your local health authority, and to utilize a health dept approved commercial kitchen

for sanitation and preparation procedures pursuant to local codes.

You might want to check with local state, county and city govenments to determine their requirements.

post #3 of 7
May I suggest a vacume/heat sealer. I use a Duniform machine here in Sweden, not sure if its available in the USA but there would be a simular product if not.

post #4 of 7
Hi sandra,
The thing that jumps out at me is that most places don't allow you to produce commercially available food in your home kitchen. The production area must be inspected and ok'd by the health dept. Of course, cooking for a couple of families is not a big deal, but you will want to check local health codes before you go further. However, it's not the end of the world, as most areas have commisary kitchens you can rent time in.
As far as containers go, check out any cash and carry type places that cater to food service establishments. You'll be able to see what available to buy in bulk.
post #5 of 7

To the op, go talk to the health dept about your plans. There are cottage food laws which allow you to make low risk foods at home for public sale, but the list is very limited and the red tape is a nightmare,

but catering from a home kitchen will not be allowed.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks all!  

Yes - definitely aware of some of the restrictions but just getting started so learning lots.  

Since I am overseas, shipping is the option for me.  Any suggestions on companies that ship via Amazon Prime (free shipping)?  The zip code we have is for a USPS box. 

post #7 of 7
Originally Posted by Smetz View Post

Thanks all!  

Yes - definitely aware of some of the restrictions but just getting started so learning lots.  

Since I am overseas, shipping is the option for me.  Any suggestions on companies that ship via Amazon Prime (free shipping)?  The zip code we have is for a USPS box.



First, welcome to Chef Talk, Smetz!

Second (a few points that are hopefully helpful)..... the actual preparation of the product is the tiniest part of running a successful food operation.

The majority of your day will be spent dealing with marketing, sales, maintaining par, menu writing and everyone's fave, payroll and other money matters!.


You (as well as any partner(s) need to sit down and after extensive research create a detailed business plan (can take months if done right).

Whatever you are thinking right now I totally agree with! Business plans are ohso boring lol but also very necessary!


This research should be specific to where you are located (random questions of complete strangers...not the best way to go about this research), to encompass whatever health department laws you will be dealing with, who your target customer will be and the current market health where you will be doing business (don't forget any marketing ideas!).


Take meetings with everyone you will deal with during the initial start up process (and don't forget lenders, even if you don't need one for startup it helps to have a rich uncle in the picture lol).

Get pricing/bids from more than a few vendors/contractors and don't forget to ask by what terms you can get the best bottom line pricing (cash on the barrel head is almost always the best way to go and you will avoid paying interest and hopefully shipping charges as well ).


If you cannot operate from a home kitchen look around for options and include them in the plan as well as what will be done if your shop needs any renovations and/or updating to reach code.


I have just scratched the surface here.

Whatever country you are located in will most likely have location specific needs... again research will help you ask the whats and whys and ifs that are important to your specific market.


One last thing... a good business plan is an ever changing beast!

Things change and a good plan will have the wiggle room to be altered at the drop of a hat.



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