Updated December 23, 2021
I spent many hours talking with the founders and owners of three successful meal prep businesses.
I wanted to understand how they came into the business, what challenges they had experienced, and importantly – what their advice is to anyone who is thinking about starting a meal prep business.
I first wanted to know what background my three founders came from, so I asked them – how did you get started in the meal prep business?
Do you have meal prep or catering industry experience? or did you just get started?
My three experts prove that you don't need to be formally trained in order to start a meal prep business.
You just need to take the time and effort to learn the job, and make sure you're doing things safely.
Most people starting a meal prep business don't have a lot of money to spend, and some people want to start a meal prep business with no money.
I asked my three experts how much you need in order to get started.
Can you get started with almost no money? What are the must-have things, and what can wait until later? Can you rent some equipment until you can afford to buy it?
If you're starting a meal prep business, you'll need a menu of options for your clients to choose from.
I wanted to know how to approach designing a meal prep menu. How can you avoid things that are difficult to prepare, or things that cause a lot of food wastage?
I asked my three successful founders:
What are the things you should consider? what type of food items should you include or avoid?
The three experts all agree that starting with a limited offering – and perhaps even sticking with that well into the future – is the best way to go. It gets you established, and lets you and your team get a good routine going, and helps you produce high quality food for every meal kit that goes out the door.
But – how do you make sure you're actually making money?
How do you come up with the prices for your meal prep business? It can't just be guess work, right?
I asked the three successful meal prep business owners how to set prices in a way that guarantees you're making a profit.
Is there a set formula? Or is it just based on what others are charging? How can you make sure you're not losing money?
Again, all three founders were saying roughly the same thing – the easiest way to set your prices is to calculate your exact food costs per dish, and then charge around 3x-4x that amount as a menu price.
There is some variation in what meal-prep businesses can charge their clients based on location, market size, and average incomes in the area, but you need to make sure you're charging enough to turn a healthy profit.
So you get a good product offering together, you buy your ingredients just right so you don't have leftovers or food waste. Then you're winning clients, and they keep re-ordering from you week after week, and suddenly, you're running a profitable meal prep business.
The question everyone wants to know the answer to is – how much money should you expect to earn with a meal prep business?
Is it a super profitable industry? can you start a meal prep business and replace your current income?
The meal prep business seems to have a huge amount of potential. Several of the experts I interviewed said you could easily make 6-figure incomes relatively soon in the business.
With a big earning potential, and relatively low startup costs, I wondered how a new meal prep business would attract clients.
I asked my three experts how they got their first few clients and customers, and how they built their business from there.
what methods work well for scoring your first few clients as a new meal prep business?
When you're new in any industry – including the meal prep business – it can be tempting to think that you need all the fanciest things, and you might end up buying a bunch of things that you'll never actually use.
I asked my three meal prep business founders – is there something they regretted spending money on, that someone starting a meal prep business could just avoid?
is there a piece of equipment that is just unnecessary? or a service from a service provider that should be avoided?
The meal prep business seems like the type of business where – if you get the basics right – you can have a successful and profitable operation that just grows and grows each year as you accumulate more and more happy customers.
I wanted to know what a typical work day is like for the three founders now that they're into the established stage of their business. I asked them:
are the hours long? is it relaxed? what about days when you have no events?
Sometimes, knowing what type of things to avoid as someone entering a new industry can be just as important as knowing what to do.
I asked my three experts what they've seen other meal businesses do that is just madness. Things that shouldn't be happening in the industry, but still happen.
what mistakes can make a meal prep business look unprofessional, and earn them a bad reputation?
I've seen some businesses that make more money from add-on services and selling extras and upgrades than they make from their main business.
I wondered if there's anything like that in the meal prep business – are there services or products that can generate additional revenue for a new meal prep business, that can maybe help you grow faster and bring in more money?
any add-ons, up-sells or cross-sells that can increase the total revenue from a customer?
My three experts have generously shared their wealth of experience. You can take their tips, tools and strategies and implement it in your own meal prep business startup, and probably save yourself many years of learning things 'the hard way'. I wanted to know their key pieces of advice for getting started in a meal prep business.
I asked the three successful founders – what final advice would they have for someone starting a meal prep business?
the three successful founders share their keys to success in this industry, based on their own experiences
Without needing too much money, it seems possible that anyone can start a meal prep business if they have the time to put into learning and researching and understanding what they need to do. I have spent over 100 hours learning everything there is to know about the meal prep business, by talking to industry experts and meal prep business owners. I have compiled it into the worlds most useful guide, How to Start a Meal Prep Business. You can check it out here.
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