Looking to join the food industry in meal prep?
Here’s what you need to know for a successful meal prep delivery business.
I’ve transitioned my love of creating meals with nurturing foods into a satisfying business, and I’m here to show you how to do the same.
In the meal prep or meal kit space, the barriers to entry in this business are surprisingly low if you are happy to start modestly while you learn the ins and outs of the business. It’s a great way to evolve your cooking talent into a profitable and exciting career.
Your quick start guide
When starting out, you might want to begin as inexpensively as possible. Once your meal prep business is making a profit and you have found your niche, you can start to invest more time and money on creating something more impressive. With patience and hard work, you’ll have a successful meal delivery business in no time at all.
To get you started, here are the steps to take to have the least friction possible.
Work out a niche and then a name for your meal prep business.
Establishing your niche is an important part of your business. It will help you determine who your customers will be and focus your efforts on them. Your niche can be focused around an interest, like “Keto,” “Bodybuilding,” or “Weight Loss,” or it can be focused around your own personal or cultural take on food, “Grandma’s Recipes,” “Custom Cajun,” or “Hometown Georgia.” The goal is to be clear on what you will be providing that is unique about your prepared meals.
Create your online presence
Create a website where you can change your content around as you adjust within your market, seeing what works and doesn’t work.
You don’t need anything complex at this stage, but you want to have an online presence so that your customers know where to find you. It’s like a calling card. There are a lot of free options if you’re just getting started, like Wix, or WordPress.
Get legal about it.
Open a business bank account under the business name. You will need to get in line with the law so simply refer to our How to Legally Start a Meal Preparation Service article. As part of this step, you will have a kitchen and will be legally able to run it.
Add a shopping cart.
Make it possible for your customers to buy from you by creating a fantastic shopping cart. The shopping cart is where your customers will buy and to create your own is expensive and you would risk creating something you don’t actually want. In our experience, meal prep operators often change their minds as to what kind of shopping cart would work best for their niche.
Connect to your food distributors.
If you haven’t already set yourself up with food distributors (maybe because you are yet big enough to meet their minimum ordering requirements), then set yourself up with wholesale warehouses you can walk into and physically buy from like Restaurant Depot and Sams Club or Costco.
Do a soft promotion to your friends, acquaintances, and anyone along the way who expressed interest in your business, or who you know will support your meal prep company.
You can bring samples to anywhere you and your community gather to show people what an amazing cook you are and get them excited. You can consider joining different groups or meetups to increase your community reach and learn how others are doing it.
Just before opening your doors is a great time to lay the foundations of your promotion. Here is a brief checklist of things to do at this stage (but make sure that all contact details are identical, including the street address you use for your business):
- Create a Google listing (and get verified)
- Create a Zell listing (and get verified)
- Create a social media presence. Facebook and Instagram are highly recommended, but it is more important for you to use the platforms where you are the most likely to post.
- Create a list of every prospect you can possibly think of (including anyone who ever said they might be interested in buying your food).
- Set up your grand opening (first cooking day), widely promote using social media, email blasts, phone calls, texts, etc. and sign up everyone you can think of and start!
The rest will come with experience.
Now that you have gotten started on your meal prep delivery (or pickup) business, you can iron out the bugs as you go along. When your customers discover how delicious your food is, they will sign up again and again and give you referrals so that you can really start to promote and scale up your company.
Have a story to tell?
Connect with us and let us know if you would like to guest post on our blog. We'd love to share your meal prep or food industry story with our readers.