Trying to start an at home catering Buisiness.Help!!!!!!!!!

Joined May 4, 2015

I am trying to start a catering business I have a couple of first time customers....I have no idea of how to price the items they are asking for,i will be serving breakfast burritos with sliced fruit for breakfast.Dinner will be stuffed chicken breast roasted potatoes and vegetable medley for 40 people,Can anyone help me with the pricing????
Joined Feb 17, 2010
Are you catering out of your home? How much catering experience do you have?
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
There are many pricing posts and discussions in the archives, here are just a few;
[thread="66845"]How To Price A Catering Job  [/thread]
  •  [thread="79369"]New To Catering​[/thread]  
  •  [thread="79844"]Help With Catering Costs​[/thread]  
  •  [thread="12359"]Standard Food Cost Percent For Catering​[/thread]  
  •  [thread="8710"]Low Cost High Volume Catering​[/thread]  
  •  [thread="77849"]Catering Prices​[/thread]  
  •  [thread="72204"]Catering Pricing​[/thread]  
The phrase "Home Based Catering" is pretty much an oxymoron these days. 

In what country or state are you located? 
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Joined Oct 23, 2013
If you have " no idea what to charge" you may want to delay your business a bit. Get dome training do some research.

Whats a buritto cost at a local competing business. If you say " no idea" again, find another job.

Not trying to be rude.

Spend 3 bucks on this book. Read it, cone back with a real question, were here to help and to learn as well.
[product="27586"]By Ninemeier Jack D American Hotel Lodging Educational Ins Planning And Control For Food And Beverage Operations Ahlei 8th Edition 2013 Paperback  [/product]
Someone wrote this on cheftalk once I lost the name who but I copied it;

Food costs + rentals/supplies + variable costs + fixed costs + helper labor + your labor (including shopping, planning,
prep, etc) + profit divided by # people == $$ per person.
Then adjust as needed for local market!

Its a pretty solid explanation.
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Joined May 4, 2015
Yes I am catering from home...thanx to all who helped I will look into getting one of these books.Cooking is my passion I hve to try somewhere with something I will really want to do.
Joined Jun 27, 2012
I saw a billboard sign on a not very often traveled street ( by me I mean...lotta other traffic) announcing the reopening of a favorite local restaurant (Continental cuisine).
O/O by a fun couple.
He from Austria she from small town Texas.
They enjoyed a decade + run then closed when they decided to move to Europe.

Thought it would be a great treat for brunch this Mothers Day so when I got home I sent an email requesting reservations.
Had my fingers crossed that they had an opening.

Not 10 min later had a reply.
It seems they did not gauge the economy and set most of the reopening up from overseas.
Just called up some of the key staff (mostly family) and got the ball rolling.
They only had the place open for 6 months before the writing on the wall became evident.

I emailed her back with my condolences.

The moral(s) of the story are this......
Learn the ins and outs of the hospitality industry on someone else's dime.
You love to cook but once you start you cannot just jump up and announce (any time you like) It is too hot/I am tired/I don't feel like cooking tonite.
Let's go out!

Because you have events booked all week and twice on Saturday and Sunday.
When you HAVE to do it sometimes it is not so much fun anymore.

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Joined Aug 14, 2012
Chefbuba is speaking of the legal issues raised by starting a catering business and running it from a home kitchen.
Joined Jan 31, 2012
I want to know how one caters from home?
Agreed, if you're anywhere in the USA, it's pure and simple illegal,  you cant get insurance or it will be

rendered invalid in the case of an incident, and should you be sued you'd be in muddy waters with no paddle. 

Home based catering is outlawed for a reason--pubic safety. 


You from around here? 
Joined Feb 23, 2015
Hi Dorothy;

I've read all of the replies to you initial question.

I was in the same situation as you 23 years ago when I too decided to do catering, but chose to strictly go corporate so that I can enjoy the rest of my life raising a young family. It was a wise and rewarding decision.

Catering is not as difficult as most people think, as long as you know what you're doing and stand by your products and services.

Once you read the books, and are more familiar with the trade, you'll get a better feel for it.

Don't forget......this forum is here to help you, not deter you!

DON'T RISK ANYTHING BY DOING IT AT HOME!!!! You can end up losing everything you own including your reputation should the worst (unmentionable) should happen!

I suggest that you find a kitchen to rent and purchase insurance accordingly. You'll have to find a way to build it into your price to the client: only a small fraction of it. Your insurance should not cost you much, depending of its duration of course.

I wish you luck, but in this business you only need a good head on your shoulders, skill and confidence.

I'd be happy to guide you through your process. I've been doing it for the last 20 or so years. I am now retired after selling out to my partner.

pm me if you wish.
Joined May 30, 2015
Okay, let me address some of the legal issues that you could possibly be getting yourself into. I'm in Tennessee, so all of these regulations are only guaranteed to apply here, but it's probably pretty similar in most other states.

In Tennessee, non-certified, non-licensed food manufacturers (ie. caterers) are allowed to sell non-hazardous products directly to consumers. You cannot sell through a third party (ie. sell your famous banana nut loaf to a local grocery store to re-sell to the public), and your products must have a label stating that they were produced in a private residence that is not inspected by the health department. The state of Tennessee's definition of non-hazardous food basically rules out anything with meat or seafood and anything that has temperature requirements; so you're basically limited to breads and cakes. If you produce food like this, it will be pretty much impossible to get insurance to cover any potential lawsuit, so it's not worth the risk from a business stand-point. This category was mainly created to address the legal issues surrounding things like school/church bake sales which often exist in a sort of purgatory between legal and illegal.

Secondly, you can (in Tennessee) run a more traditional catering business from your personal kitchen at home. However, it must be inspected by the health department, and all of the rules and regulations would apply which would make it impractical to do. For example, does the milk in your fridge have the date it was opened written on it? Does your home kitchen have a three-compartment sink? Is the bag of Dorito's in your kitchen cupboard in a sealed container with a date on it? Do you have pets? All of these things make it impractical to run a catering business from your home kitchen, and I doubt that you could get any type of insurance to cover potential legal liabilities should someone get sick/claim to get sick from your food. All it takes is one ambulance-chasing nitwit to sue for you to wind up on the street.

I hope that you seriously think about some of these issues before you go any further with this business venture.
Joined Aug 24, 2015
yes, like many other have said, please do not do it from home, I have a friend who got into some kind of trouble and regretted not hiring a professional kitchen space.
Joined Aug 8, 2015
A lot of good advice here to listen to. This is not ment to deter you just to advise you. Your first order of business is to get a servsafe certificate. Most places that rent kitchen space require it. This will also give you a good base of knowledge. I would advise an 8 hour initial certification course plus 2 hour exam session. Coukd run between 150 and 250 dollars. Once you have this you can look into renting space in a commercial kitchen. Local moose lodge, senior centers, knights of columbus, and churches are good places. I volunteer teach cooking classes at a local senior center with a sweet little kitchen. Whenever i need the space for some side work there are no issues. Definately get a food safety certificate. This way should you still choose to illegaly cater out of your house you will have at least base knowledge that will help keep the food safe.
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Joined Aug 30, 2015
I'm in the united states and town is Greenville, North Carolina. I'm a baker have a home based business and bringing in cattering.. I'm catering my first event which is a small wedding party of 125. they want finger food or havery Horss d"oeuvres reception will be held around 7:30 pm. .
Joined Aug 24, 2011
I have a reputation for helping people get the food on the table for a large gathering.  The last thing I call it is catering.  See Chezpopp's response above for your steps towards catering.

But I do know all the local kitchens, I have a safe server certificate and my wife and I love helping people celebrate those moments in life when you are ready for a feast.  That being said, it can take a lot out of the preparer when serving important functions.  I charge $250 a day plus expenses.  $125 for consultation which will be taken off overall bill.  Anything I need to rent or purchase I add 15% to the overall total.  I have a system to estimate my pantry items which I may or may not already possess.

Hope that helps.
Joined Jun 28, 2015
Hi, I'm Karen and I can help you do your costings for ingredients - just send me all the ingredients you require for 40 people and your hourly rate ( cooking time) - don't forget to include your packaging and resources. Are you cooking on site or from home to deliver to site. Give me full details of your catering info and I will show you how to cost.

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