How to Start a Meal Delivery Service

So you want to start a vegan-friendly meal delivery service? We’ve compiled a list of tips and resources to help you along your way. The order and content of these steps are just suggestions to help you.

Contact us if you have ideas to improve this guide. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get updates when we add more resources.

Step 1. Set your intention

Think about why you want to start a vegan meal delivery service. Write down your reasons and keep them visible so that you will remember them when you struggle. Remind yourself frequently.

And consider reading Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done by Charlie Gilkey in order to refine your business idea.

Step 2: Build your network

Find people who will be honest and not discouraging. Be selective about who you tell about your idea in the beginning when it’s more fragile, as you may be prone to getting discouraged. This concept is examined in Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done.

Join the Coalition of Vegan Food Delivery Services Facebook group to share information with other vegan meal delivery services.

Step 3: Learn to cook vegan

Either you already know how to cook vegan meals and enjoy it, or you want to learn. Finding a cooking class.

Step 4: Decide what kinds of meals you will create

It’s time to think about what kinds of meals you will be making. Will you go the whole-food, plant-based SOS-free (salt oil sugar) route? Will you be creating vegan comfort foods? What about the kinds of cultures that will be represented in your foods. Do some research on what’s out there, what you think people will like, and what foods you enjoy. In the end you’re the one who will be eating any leftovers, so pick foods you are passionate about.

Step 5: Register and structure your business

This step is one that continues along with all further steps listed, as each step will have its own legal considerations. Look into your local food serving laws, and the laws of the locations you will be delivering to. Also look into tax implications of delivering to locations and delivering from your base of operations. Think about how you will legally structure your business. Consider finding a lawyer with experience in this area. Also consider finding an accountant.

Step 6: Determine where you will cook

Will you be cooking in your home or a commercial kitchen? Look into the legality of all options and the costs.

Step 7: Determine your delivery or pickup locations

Will you deliver orders or offer pickup locations? Where will you deliver your food to? Set short and long term goals. Create a plan for where you will start out, and how you will expand as you gain customers and have success.

Step 8: Determine order types and delivery frequency

What meal plan packages will you offer? How many meals will you sell together? How often will you deliver? When will you deliver? When do you need to receive orders so that you have enough time to buy food, prepare meals, and deliver them? Look at other services listed on VegMealDelivery for ideas.

Step 9: How will you package your food?

What kinds of containers will you use? What kinds of packing materials? Will you deliver fresh or frozen meals? Consider your delivery or pickup frequency, and the environmental factors of the locations you will service. Does it get so hot that meals sitting outside won’t last long without a certain type of storage and packing materials? The last thing you want is for your customers to be left with spoiled meals before they have a chance to eat them.

Step 10: Determine your delivery method

How will you deliver your meals? Will you hire staff and buy vehicles? Will you use a commercial delivery service like UPS or FedEx? Or will you use a local third-party delivery service like UberEats or Postmates? Some third-party services may only pick up from commercial locations and may require you to use their order system.

Step 11: Create a website and order system

Now that you have everything straightened out it’s time to create a website where you can accept orders. You can also use a Facebook page in the beginning and accept orders through email or a service like WhatsApp. Once you are ready for a more comprehensive order system there are many options available. Two options we see often are 1) a WordPress site with the Woocommerce plugin, and 2) a Shopify store.

Contact us if you’d like some help setting up a website or order system. We can help you decide which way to go, and we can also help you set up your website or store.

Step 12. Promote your business

Ideally you should start promoting your business as soon as you have committed to building it. Whether that’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, your own website, or somewhere else. It’s also important to think about where you will market it, and who is your target demographic. Once you are ready to take orders consider taking out ads in places like Facebook, Google searches, and local papers. Look into online marketing training before you spend a lot of money.

Also decide if you will offer discounts throughout the year, if you will have a user referral program, and if you will have an affiliate program.
And of course submit your service to VegMealDelivery for free.