With every generation that passes, we become more and more conscious of what we are putting into our bodies. The science of food, in particular, has led to more focus on ever-more diverse diets, superfoods and eating plans. As we gain more awareness of what the benefits and disadvantages of certain foods are, we’re also seeing this expertise gaining coverage in terms of the foods that hit our supermarket shelves. And for people with an interest in food, this is creating business opportunities – which include the possibility of starting a ready-made meal-prep business.
One of the major ways in which a line of business changes over time is the addition of choice – once upon a time, the vast bulk of ready meals in a supermarket would be from a few basic choices. Now, the range of choice is increasingly wide. So if you fancy taking your nutritional and culinary expertise to market, it’s worth knowing what you need to get right before going into business with a line of ready meals.
Pick your niche
As we’ve noted, the range of choice for ready meals has exploded in recent years, and if your business line is simply “ready meals”, it’s hard to attract the kind of attention you want. You need to have something more identifiable going for you. What about keto meals? This is a field where easy food is hard to come by, so if you can launch a decent line of carb-free convenience food, you could have a marketable business. Or you could be looking at a specific type of cuisine. It’s not hard to find pre-prepped Italian cuisine, but there are other national styles that are less well-served. Why not try Korean or Moroccan dishes?
Think from field to fork
Convenient food is popular because people, at the end of a long day of work, don’t want to have to put in too much hard graft or time in the kitchen. That means that you’re the one taking on this effort, so you need to break down every step of the process. You’ve got to source ingredients; blend them to make a meal that will survive cold storage & logistics; package them in a way that makes them stand out in a supermarket; figure out and communicate cooking instructions. You’ve got to do all of this without overspending, so break the steps down and then look for ways to make it cost-efficient in every one of those steps.
Plan how you will sell your meals
One major advantage a meal prep business has these days is that you can sell your dishes in more ways than were available even ten years ago. You used to have to persuade supermarkets and convenience stores to carry your brands. Then you had to hope they displayed them prominently. Now, while brick and mortar stores are useful to have on your side, you can sell directly to the public. An ecommerce site with a decent design and SEO can allow you to reach a considerably-sized customer base. From there, you can build a substantial brand.
Find a facility
You may well be great at crafting delicious, nutritious and healthy dishes in your own kitchen, but if you want to sell to a wide market, you’re not going to be working in your own kitchen. That’s because first of all, you won’t have the industrial-sized ovens and cooking facilities needed for mass production, and second of all you won’t want health inspectors coming in and out of your house as and when they want. So you will need to find a place to work out of.
You’re also going to need the equipment to package and vacuum-seal your meals as well as storing them before distribution – and there is the question of distribution itself. Will you be sending meals to stores and markets, in which case you’ll need to send them en masse? Or, if you’re going e-commerce and sending directly to homes, you’ll need space to store the meals and to find a way of sending them securely – usually in a thermally-controlled box with ice packs.
Selling pre-prepared meals can be a way to make a decent buck or two in the business world, but you need to be conscious of the scale of job it takes to get up and running. There’s a lot to stay on top of, but if you put the thinking in then there’s no reason you can’t make a success and even a household name out of your culinary expertise.
Related content from StrategyDriven