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Business idea - Do you think this has potential?

(36 Posts)
Kiwikiss1 Sat 08-Jun-13 14:14:02

Hello,

I am a Stay at Home Mum who absolutely loves being in the kitchen and I am planning to start a new venture selling and delivering home cooked meals and baking to busy Mums and Dads who want to serve their families healthy, delicious, cooked from scratch food at mealtimes and fill their children's lunch box with old fashioned home baking free from the additives and trans-fats found in store brought biscuits and cakes but do not have the time or inclination to do this themselves. As much as possible my produce will be locally sourced (within a 30 mile radius) and I plan to sell at local markets and then move to delivering within a 10 mile radius. My menu will include good old fashioned classics such as lasagnas, assorted pies and quiches, soups, breads, vegetable sides, puddings, cakes, loaves, muffins and biscuits. They will be cooked to order (not frozen) but you will be able to freeze them yourself if you prefer.

My loaded question is....if you are busy, working parent would my business assist in helping you serve good quality meals to your family and fill the children's lunch boxes while freeing up your time to do all the other things us parents have to try and fit in on a day to day basis? If you knew there was a service like this in your area would you think to use it from time to time?

I would love to have feedback from real parents who are completely impartial and not the slightest bit worried about bruising my ego.

Thank you in anticipation.

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Fri 14-Jun-13 16:09:06

I think it's a great idea; you'll have to put a lot into advertising and promoting it - so you may need to factor in outsourcing this, unless it's something you can do.

Best of luck, I hope it goes well.

encyclogirl Fri 14-Jun-13 15:49:05

I absolutely love this idea, and feel a bit inspired to try something similar where I live.

I work full-time but always come home and cook from scratch (as does dh) in the evenings as I find it so very relaxing.

I'll be following this topic with interest OP. Good luck!

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 14-Jun-13 15:09:08

Afternoon. Our Business Start-ups topic isn't really the place to do market-research, we're afraid.

We'll move this thread now to non-member/media requests.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 14-Jun-13 02:24:36

I think you'd need to do some pretty intensive market research, and make sure you ask the right questions. I'd recommend using Survey Monkey, so it's anonymous and people say what they think rather than what they think you want to hear. Make sure you identify key demographic factors (household income, employment status, no of children in each age bracket). I think the consensus on this thread is that you'd be aiming at a fairly narrow demographic (probably household income over £50k) so this is critical.

The key to successful market research is to phrase the questions so they identify buying behaviours, and don't just create a customer wish list of things they'd like if money were no object

eg dont ask "would you prefer a product where all the ingredients are sourced locally?" because everyone's going to say yes as they dont think through what that actually means- e.g. where are you going to get a locally grown capsicum in winter in Norfolk?. Instead ask "Would you be prepared to pay xp more per family lasagna for the ingredients to be sourced locally?" The local sourcing thing is always where they come unstuck on "The Restaurant" I notice, because although everyone thinks local sourcing is good, we've all forgotten that seasonal food in England in winter is a but rubbish unless you like turnips or are prepared to pay ££££ for glass grown stuff.

Similarly with fresh and frozen food- people think they want "fresh" because it's seen as "better" but do they really if it's, say, £2 more for a family sized cottage pie. Possibly not.

NomDeClavier Thu 13-Jun-13 12:12:46

I think to make it work you'd need to have 2 or 3 options per day, including a veggie one, and people choose what they want. That minimises your work but leaves enough choices for people and you just need to do a large batch of ragu for cannelloni, a big pot of chicken soup and a butternut squash bake to divvy up.

From my perspective you'd need to be careful of allergies, and we have some bizarre ones in our family so your menu might be a bit hit and miss there, but I would organise to buy ahead to freeze.

I'd also be interested in commissioning a bunch of meals that I know to be family favourites to go in the freezer for that time after a baby is born or when I know I have a very busy patch coming at work.

How would you package the food? Would you cook it in dishes, supply as cooked and ask for them back or do it in metal trays?

The lunchboxes are brilliant, like Graze for kids. Could you even negotiate delivering to your local primary? That way you make, say, 20 lunchboxes in the morning and deliver them to school to give to the children. School may not be terribly keen but if they don't offer school dinners the parental support may be enough to get it going.

Nicolaeus Thu 13-Jun-13 12:08:41

I was going to suggest a rotational menu too. Would make it easier for you.

But you do need to choose your area carefully - whereabouts are you? Are you near a main metro/train station where you could catch commuters on their way home? Say they book in advance and you "deliver" to the station?

Mama1980 Thu 13-Jun-13 12:01:49

Hi we have something similar locally in our village, the shop that used to be a bakery, the woman runs a similar service from. She is doing very well. She offers soups, things like beef stew, cannelloni etc on a rotational basis which might be a idea rather than offering everything at once?
She also supplies fresh homemade pizzas which are a huge hit. I don't use her personally as I prefer to cook myself but when I was in hospital my family did and my children were very impressed.
I also agree for me if I were to use online ordering would be a must, our local lady doesn't though so maybe just my opinion. She takes around menu lists and then collects or people can drop in. Time consuming I would imagine.
Best of luck.

Oblongata Thu 13-Jun-13 11:59:13

But even if you can do it all at home, more quickly and more cheaply, buying in means no shopping/planning/less washing up/thinking. That's worth the cost, sometimes. And that's how to advertise it. Take a break from meal planning for a week. Special rates for a week's menu. I would love that.

Though I agree that the most cost effective way to set it up is on the back of an existing catering operation, as QS says.

I posted too soon.

But I dont think the idea will work on the basis of freshly cooked, unless you are already set up as a restaurant.

Went to a small pub in a village in the South Downs, and they advertised "homecooked" food in single or family sizes delivered locally.

I think it is a good idea.

I recently bought a frozen Boeuf Bourguignon from Cook, big size for a family of 4. 2 adults and 2 kids (11 and 7) scraped the oven dish clean. In addition we had to cook rice on the side. For £17 I am not sure it was worth it. It was overdone on the laurel leaves too.

As it was frozen, it took a while to cook (over an hour), so in the time it cooked I might as well have put some marinated chicken in the oven to roast, and cooked my rice and steamed some veg.

ShoeWhore Thu 13-Jun-13 11:49:09

The butchers and farm shop near me both do similar. They sell it fresh on the weekly market (not to order) and the same meals are available frozen from the shop. I guess they are like ready meals but homemade.

I've also seen leaflets for this kind of service at various holiday cottages - but then it's marketed as more of an outside catering kind of service and you are nudging towards restaurant prices.

re the baking - certainly where I am there are quite a few bakeries that sell homemade flapjack and similar. I'm not saying it can't work but do check out your local competition carefully - it's quite touristy here so perhaps not representative.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 13-Jun-13 11:42:09

the reason people would buy them from you is that it is the equivalent of fresh home cooking

Yes, but can the OP make it work on that basis? I'd argue not. If people are buying to eat fresh, then they're ordering one thing, so on one day the OP could have to make 5 different things using 5 different sets of ingredients and then deliver them to 5 different addresses. Won't stack up because people wont be prepared to pay what that costs. As Peter Jones would say "I'm out"

If they're not ordering to eat fresh, then they'll be happy for it to arrive frozen and you can insist on minimum order quantities which reduces delivery costs as % sales.

There is a reason why Cook is successful.

allmycats Thu 13-Jun-13 09:29:58

I would use it !
Perhaps if you do not have an on line ordering system you can deliver with your first order a batch of lists of what you offer so that they can tick what they want next time and pass it to you.

DeepRedBetty Thu 13-Jun-13 09:25:03

Incidentally Cook! has also started operating a freezer cabinet in the petrol station shop to catch the people who get back from London too late to go to the main shop.

DeepRedBetty Thu 13-Jun-13 09:23:14

There's a Cook! on our High Street, it all seems to be frozen. They are doing quite well - but this is an affluent micro-economy. There is only one shop not open at the moment on the whole street, and that's only because it's just changed hands and is being refitted. If you are in an area where there are lots of people with more money than time you should be fine.

harryhausen Thu 13-Jun-13 09:21:14

I'd be more interested in the lunchbox/snacks rather than the meals. However it would be handy to have the odd one or two in the freezer.

I work from home and cannot find the time to cook with much love - my work in completely manic. I'm very capable though and I do manage most days. Just stressfully!

I think it's a great idea. Online booking and delivery essentialsmile

sorry btw I think it is a fab idea.

I disagree about the frozen thing.

you can get lots of frozen meals in supermarkets.
the reason people would buy them from you is that it is the equivalent of fresh home cooking.

Bluecarrot Thu 13-Jun-13 09:17:08

Haven't read all the replies but was thinking about this recently when a local shop was up for rent.

I had a similar idea but rather than markets, I would arrange delivery to a network of local shops so people could collect on their way home from work, along with milk etc from the shop offering collection.

If offering them frozen you could just market it as a healthy range of foods and aim to supply a group like Spar etc

MrsApplepants Thu 13-Jun-13 09:15:54

Love this idea. Where are you based and can I order some now?! Hehe!

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 13-Jun-13 08:55:45

Ok- so Cook is nationwide- therefore their economies of scale are likely to be better than yours, so you may have to charge more than them.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 13-Jun-13 08:54:42

One other thing- I'd re-think the fresh vs frozen thing. Most people will buy this stuff for the freezer, and the type of stuff that sells well will freeze well. If you supply frozen it enables you to increase the size of your batches and reduce costs

e.g If someone wants a lasagne on Monday, someone on Thurs and someone on Sat, if you're supplying fresh, you need to cook them all separately. If frozen, you can do them all at once.

You also need to think about input costs. Depending on size of order, you could probably get wholesale prices for meat etc but how big is this operation going to be? If, say, you're buying mince and freezing it, but then supplying the lasagne fresh, that doesn't really make sense. You're better off buying the meat fresh and freezing the final product. Basically, to get wholesale prices you need to be batch cooking. To do that and not have wastage you either need a huge operation, or supply frozen

OldBeanbagz Thu 13-Jun-13 08:51:08

Cook is a nationwide company ,there's one near me but i haven't used it as i like to cook myself.

I think you should probably sell yourself on being local and using local produce is a very good idea.

Llareggub Thu 13-Jun-13 08:44:45

Thinking on it, I have used a similar service when on self catering hols in Cornwall. Are you in a touristy area?

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 13-Jun-13 08:44:02

There is something like this in Bournemouth. It's called Cook. The lady who is renting us a holiday home told me about it. Maybe take a look at their website and think whether your local market could support those prices.

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