Some of the best restaurants in the world have started from small home businesses. Whether it is serving sandwiches to local businesses or building a client list for catering, a home food business can be the gateway to a profitable future. Home food businesses can be started on a shoestring budget and offer large investment returns.

Things You Will Need
  • Business plan

  • Health department certificate

  • Designated kitchen space

  • Wholesale business account(s)


Step 1.

Register as a business with food distributors. This is free and will give business owners access to deep discounts on cleaning, paper, plastic and food supplies. A business can find distributors by asking other privately owned restaurants or completing an Internet search. Once distributor catalogs are received, a proper business plan can be generated.

Step 2.

Write a business plan. A business plan is designed to keep progress on track and outline the expenses of running a business versus the potential earnings. Business owners will need to research the prices of similar products at similar home food businesses for this. It should also outline future expansions and associated costs to your home.

Step 3.

Submit business plan to lenders. Unless a business owner plans to fund his home food business out of his pocket, it will be necessary to receive some type of loan. Lenders take potential business owners with a detailed, well prepared business plan more seriously than those who do not have one.

Step 4.

Designate business space. A specific area outside of personal home space must be designated for the home food business. This could be a second kitchen or small expansion to the house with kitchen space. Using standard household equipment is a beneficial way to keep costs down initially, but kitchen space should be designed to accommodate new equipment in the future. Register for catalogs from restaurant equipment supply stores to view costs and dimensions of equipment that may be necessary for the home food business.

Step 5.

Apply for Certificate of Free Sale Project and Imports/Exports. Applications can be submitted online through the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) Food Safety Program. During this process a certified member of the local health department will visit the business to ensure all parts are up to code. There are different regulations depending on what types of foods will be sold, the customer base and the use of the business space (selling only vs. serving). A list of regulations can be found on the NJDHSS website under Food Safety Regulation and Outreach. Applications and information can also be found at the NJDHSS office.

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Food and Drug Safety Program 369 South Warren St. Trenton, NJ 08625 609-826-4935

Step 6.

Register business with New Jersey Department of the Treasury. All businesses should be registered with the federal and state government for tax and validation purposes.

Step 7.

File for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certificate, if necessary. Any home food business that plans to ship products must complete training and receive a certificate from the FDA. This teaches businesses the regulations regarding shipping food, types of packaging to use and mail-carrier restrictions regarding dry ice.


Word processor programs have pre-designed templates for business plans.

Register for certification and licensing at least 12 weeks before scheduled opening date. These processes often take a minimum of six to eight weeks to start.


Failure to register with the health department for serving food can result in high penalty fees and forced closure of your business.