How to Start a Lunch Box Catering Business

by Lisa McQuerrey; Updated September 26, 2017
Healthy school lunch with book

Lunch box catering companies typically serve businesses, community organizations, schools, event planners and other groups that must feed large groups of people. A successful business may be an offshoot of an existing restaurant or catering business, or an entity into itself. The size and scope of the business can vary based on your available space, budget and target demographic.

Pre-Start-up Responsibilities

Just as with any business, before launching your company you should obtain the appropriate licenses and permits required. Visit your secretary of state's office or local business licensing office to learn about the particulars you'll be required to have to legitimately operate your company. You’ll also be required to follow health department standards in terms of food preparation, storage and transportation. You may also be required to carry insurance coverage specific to the food service industry.

Find Vendors and Suppliers

Identify food industry vendors from which to purchase your supplies and materials. You'll need cost-effective packaging, such as individual containers, disposable silverware, food wrappers, napkins and condiments. Depending on whether you'll be preparing food or using prepackaged edibles, you may also need food preparation equipment and a means for safely transporting box lunches, like a refrigerator truck.

Determine Business Logistics

You may need to hire employees to help you market your business, fulfill orders, create meals and deliver them. Creating a business plan and a marketing plan can help you figure out these logistics as well as help you identify specific product offerings and price points. For example, consider a low-end deli sandwich lunch box with a cookie and bottled water as a base pricing structure and work your way up to offer gourmet box lunches that include offerings such as pasta dishes, flavored sparkling water, containers of fresh fruits and vegetables, and delectable desserts.

Market Your Business

Market services to your target demographic. This could include schools, universities, large business complexes, corporations and event planners. Price your lunch box meals competitively and look for ways to develop long-term contracts and build repeat business. For example, inking an agreement to provide box lunches to every local chamber of commerce luncheon or college registration day will net you greater profits and more referrals than catering something like a one-time elementary school class field trip.

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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