Starting a food delivery service from home is an easy way to get started in the food business
Starting a food business from home is the most cost-effective way to get started in the food business. It’s also a great way to test your products and avoid spending money on new equipment associated with a food truck or restaurant.
So how can you start a food delivery business from home in the UK?
To start a food delivery business you need a large kitchen with adequate storage and surface space, catering equipment such as cookers and fridges, relevant licenses such as public liability, and a website and/or social media presence.
This is only the basics and there is a bit more you need to know in order to create a profitable and ultimately successful home food delivery service. In this article, I will, therefore, take you through how to start a food delivery business in the UK.
1. Market Research
This is the first step for a very good reason and one that can make or break your home food business. There is an endless array of foods you can cook, but getting the public to buy your product is another story.
Start by checking what types of foods are trending on social media, such as Pinterest and Instagram. You can also check out local street food markets, events, and restaurants to see what food trucks and places are popular.
Vegan cuisine, for example, is becoming very popular at the moment so this may be an area you want to look at.
2. Your Niche
You need to stand out from the crowd and try to offer something unique. In practice, this means specializing in a specific cuisine, like Indian vegan street food or Middle Eastern food platters, for example.
Something else to consider is how easy your home-cooked food will be to store and stay fresh after cooking. For example, cooking a curry-based dish in bulk the evening before delivery will be fine. But if you tried to do this with burgers or wraps it just wouldn’t work.
3. Create a menu
You have done your market research to see what foods are popular and decided what home-cooked food you intend to sell. Now you have to construct a physical menu (the actual dishes) and a digital menu (what will be on your social media and website).
I suggest keeping it simple to start with and having just 5 options on your menu. This not only helps with stock control but also with waste. You can add more options as you go and become more successful.
4. Choose a name
This may be a small home food business, to begin with, but if want to become successful you will need to treat it as a business. This means being professional and having a logo.
Try to choose a name that is easy to understand and clearly states what you sell. people tend not to like to put too much thought into working out what they do.
For example, “Claire’s Cuisines” doesn’t really tell the customer what you sell (it all comes back to the niche). On the other hand, your customer will probably be in little doubt about what “Kumar’s Curry Shack” does.
There are some good user-friendly logo builders out there such as Wix or Placeit. Or if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself you can pay very reasonable amounts to freelancers on Fiverr and Upwork.
Starting a food delivery business from home is the most cost-effective way to sell food to the public. Not only can you utilise the equipment you already have in the kitchen but is also a great way to test products before you commit the funds to a food truck or restaurant.
The key equipment you will need is the following.
- A large kitchen
- Adequate work surfaces
- A large cooker
- Fridge space
- Storage for food stock and packaging
- Cool boxes for food delivery
- Eco-friendly packaging (compostable/biodegradable)
- Transport for food delivery
If you don’t have a large kitchen, adequate workspace, or decent cooker there is the option to hire pop-up kitchens. This is where you can rent commercial kitchens with everything you need by the hour or per half/full day.
Here is a link to “Sundial Kitchens”, a pop-up kitchen in the UK to give you an idea.
6. Register as a food business
If you want to start a small food business from home to sell to the public then you need to register with your local council or state authority.
Once you have done this, your local office will come to your home and inspect your property and the systems you have in place. For example, how you store, handle, and transport your products.
If in the UK the officer will then award you a star rating between 1-5 based on their inspection. Having a HACCP plan is very important to get a good rating which I will cover in the next section.
If in the US check with your local state department in charge of food production, as food laws will often differ from state to state.
7. Relevant documents
Aside from registering as a food business, there are also some other legal requirements to sell food from home to the public. The following documents help to keep your operation moving smoothly and protect both you and the public from any risks of hazards.
- HACCP Plan – This shows you have a system in place for how your food is transported, stored, and cooked. Download a template here at the Food Standards Agency.
- Level 2 Food & Hygiene Certificate – A day course online or at your local college. This ensures you understand the risks associated with transporting, storing, and cooking foods.
- Public Liability Insurance – This covers you for any third-party claims by the public against your business.
- Risk Assessment – This shows you have a record and understand the risks associated with your operation (heat from cookers and trip hazards). Download a free template here at the Health & Safety Executive.
- Food Allergy Information – In the UK you have 14 food allergens. You, therefore, have to list them as products you use or may have come into contact with your cooking process. A list of all 14 food allergens can be found here on the Food Standards Agency website.
8. Social media & online marketing
When you start your food business from home you will not have a storefront on the high street or a food truck at a busy festival. You will basically be completely hidden from public view.
This is why having a social media and online presence is one of the most important steps and a powerful way to help you connect with the public and other businesses. This is also the step that can help to make you or break you.
Start by creating a Facebook business page, add all your friends, and get them to like and share your page. Having an Instagram account is also a very effective platform for visual content, especially pictures of food.
Both of these platforms are free to start up (unless you want to run paid ads) and can be very effective at getting your name out there.
The next step is to create a website. It’s free to create if you have the time to do it yourself, and very cheap (around £20 per month). I use Wix to build my sites but Word Press is another very popular website builder.
If you don’t have the confidence or experience to build a website yourself, try to utilize the expertise of family or friends.
There are also platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork where you can find freelance website builders. However at this stage, you will only have a small cooking business from home, so will only need a basic site. I, therefore, wouldn’t pay any more than £500.
Food and Drink Business ideas you can start from home
- Vegan Indian Street Food
- Lebanese falafel platters
- Ethiopian food
- Caribbean food
- Pies & Pasties
- Cold-pressed juice
How much does it cost to start a food delivery service?
As previously mentioned starting a food delivery service from home is relatively inexpensive, compared with buying a food truck or opening a restaurant.
Assuming you have the basics of the kitchen, such as a large cooker, adequate prepping space and refrigeration, and transport and you do the website and logo yourself you can get up and running for under £500.
If on the other hand, you don’t have most of the essentials and intend to pay freelancers to do the online stuff, it will cost around £2000 to start a home food delivery service.