What's a recipe for personal cooking that is delicious and priced well?
January 21, 2018 2:59 AM   Subscribe

I want to ramp up my personal cooking business. I have lots of ideas to do this but some concrete questions and concerns first. Primarily: happiness of the client, food cost and continued quality.

I am looking to update this Q to 2018, mainly the "how do you stay delicious and fresh" while keeping the service at an OK price point. I would like to ask some personal chefs or their clients on the green this query.

Happiness: I'm thinking ease of customization of dietary restrictions and prefs are going to be key to this. It's like Blue Apron with more tweaks and less fuss of prepping everything and actually cooking it. But you don't want it to be too over the top. Ways I'm thinking of automating and making the experience good for the client: Send over a questionnaire or bring one to the first meeting to go over food prefs, allergies, favorite restaurants and other requests. Do a weekly menu choice email that is like a survey (or something) where they just have to click through a couple of options instead of a lengthy email chain (I'm thinking like a Basecamp but for clients / their service providers). Also simple contract and things like that. What else would you put in this category? Simple, labeled meals that are cooked in their home (per the regulations of my US state) w/ their dietary restrictions kept in mind, for freezer or fridge, that kind of thing.

Cost: My desire is to be accessible, easy to work with, cheerful and customizable. I know all of those things come at a "cost" but there has to be a formula that makes it work? Right now I am charging for a family of 2 vs. a family of 4, hourly.

Quality: How do you set the food spending expectations? Do you adjust for different budgets or just say "I have to make what I need, etc" or "I only use organic". A potential client said that they "never buy organic" so they have lower food costs. How does this factor into the hourly wage, invoicing or "package pricing" if you do it that way? Right now my structure is that I shop for food, prepare it in home, and then invoice for grocery cost and hourly fee.

I'm doing things like forming an LLC, getting insurance, working on a business plan and contacts, etc to be methodical and start slow. I'm also working in another field right now so I can slowly integrate the two and then decide which way I want to go if this does turn out to be something I continue to enjoy doing.

I'm also getting business cards, networking and marketing, etc. Please feel free to send a PM if needed. ty!
posted by rabu to Work & Money (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps I am oversimplifying the customisation/quality thing but isn’t that a function of cost of groceries and time spent shopping and prepping the food? So cost of groceries plus time spent shopping and cooking would be a simple and accurate formula?

What you may need to consider is that people may have wildly unrealistic ideas what groceries cost and how long it takes to shop for and prepare them. So you may want to have some example menus and cost them to organic/non organic/everything fresh/frozen, from scratch vs some partially prepared ingredients and different number of people to help them think through their priorities? At least you should do that for your own benefit so you can tell when your customer is going down a route that is going to take a lot more of your time or going to cost a lot more in terms of ingredients so you are not surprised after the fact. That would be a more difficult conversation trying to get paid than if you explain the cost of the requests upfront.

You may also agree on a grocery budget that you should stick to. If they then want fillet steak and that pushes them over the budget they get told that ahead of time so they can approve that or substitute something within their budget.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:04 AM on January 21

The one time I used a friend's service like this, she made up a menu and posted it on Facebook on Friday. She had two different entrees, a few sides, soup, dessert. She took orders until Tuesday night, shopped Wednesday, cooked Thursday, and delivered or we picked up on Thursday evening. It was simple, straightforward, and seemed to be the most efficient for her AND her customers. I really liked her process, as she didn't expend more energy or resources above what was necessary to fill her orders for the week.
posted by raisingsand at 12:33 PM on January 21

I don't understand how you're currently charging. Can you explain?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:56 PM on January 21

Hi, right now my service fee is hourly with a tier 1 for two person families and tier 2 for four person families. It has worked pretty well but I wanted to tighten up my metric. Thank you for the insightful feedback thus far!
posted by rabu at 5:46 PM on January 21

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