If you love to cook for others, but don’t want to work in a restaurant or have people in your home, you can make money cooking for take-out.
However, there are precious few national platforms that can help you market this service. That’s partly due to state laws that restrict food service operations, largely for health reasons. But it’s worth searching locally — and signing up for the one national platform that does support cooking for take-out.
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Shef is a commercial home-cooking site that enlists both professional and amateur chefs to make meals for local clients. Cooks determine their own meals, prices and schedules. But they must pass a food safety certification course before uploading menus to the site.
Because Shef operates in several states, and food safety requirements are regional, there are sometimes additional requirements for cooks. In California, for instance, home cooks must verify that they are operating as a “microenterprise” or a “cottage food operation.” If you don’t know what that means, consider joining the Cook Alliance, a cooperative aimed at informing and advocating for home cooks.
There is no cost to upload meals for sale on the Shef site. However, the site takes a 15% fee from the cook’s revenue when meals sell. That pays for Shef’s marketing, payment processing and customer support. Learn more about Shef here.
TaskRabbit, which allows freelancers to determine what services they offer and what they charge, is the one national platform that supports home cooks, hoping to sell their services on an hourly or for-delivery basis. The site is freelancer-friendly, only charging site fees to customers. Learn more about TaskRabbit here.
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People in cities and states where local home cooking sites are unavailable can market their home-cooked meals through neighborhood website Nextdoor. Nextdoor has both free peer-to-peer discussions and neighborhood advertising. Ad rates vary based on geographic reach.
If you happen to live in Southern California, there’s another highly attractive option — a site called DishDivvy. This young start-up allows you to determine what meals to sell, when and what to charge. The site’s phone app, then leads customers to your door to pick up the meals they ordered in the time window you set. You can learn more about DishDivvy here.