Ways To Make Quick Money Launching...

A Personal Chef "Fast Cash" Business

The Venture Step-by-Step

Making The Moola

• Pricing

There is no single method for pricing a personal chef's service. Personal chefs charge by the hour, by the serving, or sometimes simply charge a flat fee.

When deciding how to price your services, regardless of what method you use to charge a client, there are certain factors that will affect your final price:

personal chef pricing charging sign
  • How many people will you be cooking for?

  • How complex is it to prepare the food?

  • How many hours will it take you to cook a meal for one person?

  • How many hours will it take you to cook a meal for a family of four?

  • How many times will you cook for your client per week?

  • What are your competitors charging their clients?

  • How much can your client afford to pay you?


On average it takes a personal chef 2 hours to cook three meals for a family of four.

Charging Per Hour

In the USA a personal chef earns an average of $15 to $30 per hour.

In your area the going hourly rate may be higher or lower. This is why it's important to learn what your local market is willing to pay.

Finding this information may require some trial and error. A good starting point is to check out how much your competitors are charging on an hourly basis.

Charging an hourly rate can be tough to do for a personal chef just starting out. In fact many starting personal chefs tend to keep away from charging by the hour.

It takes longer for a new chef to cook a meal than it does an experienced chef. The resulting bill from an inexperienced chef would be too high for a client to cover.

Charging Per Serving

Most restaurants charge their meals per serving. So put yourself in the shoes of a restaurant owner. This is how most people think of paying for prepared food also.

How does the owner of a restaurant price a meal?

It's actually pretty simple if you think about it. There are mainly 3 questions to answer to set the price for a serving. You must figure out:

  1. How much it costs to prepare the meal? This includes the labor.

  2. How much do you want to charge above this cost to cover the expense and make a profit? This is called a cost mark-up.

  3. How much is your client willing to pay for the meal?

A good method for finding how much your clients might be willing to pay for a meal is to see the prices that local restaurants charge for comparable meals.

Always keep in mind, nevertheless, that your clients may or may not see you as an alternative to eating out. Eating out has its own attraction. So be careful not to present your services as a substitute to local restaurants to a client who still wants to eat out.

If you find answers for the three questions on pricing mentioned above, you'll end up with a reasonable estimate for your services.

Charging A Flat Fee

Flat fee pricing is primarily used for individuals or households that hire a personal chef to cook multiple meals over a certain period of time - 3 meals a week, 15 meals a month, etc.

Finding the right price for a flat fee service is similar to setting a price per meal, though it comes with experience.

Your final price depends on your costs, your markup and how much your client is willing to pay. But you anticipate having to cover any unexpected changes to a menu by request from your client without changing your published estimate.

  • Example:

    Let's say you are cooking 3 meals for a family of 4, which take 2 hours each to complete, and you want to markup 80% over your costs. You'd estimate your fee by doing something like this:


    - Take $100 in groceries

    - Take $40 for labor (that's $20 per hour for 2 hours of cooking)

    Total costs equal $140


    - Take $140 and multiply it by 1.8, which gives you an 80% mark-up from your cost base.

    Total costs plus mark-up equal $252


    - Take $252 meal plan and compare with local restaurants, where it might go for $320.

    At this point consider how much between $252 and $320 the client is willing to pay for these 3 meals for a family of 4.

Personal Chef Price Calculator

To simplify your pricing exercise, here's a calculator that helps you do what you just read above.

Remember, however, your pricing must vary depending on your situation. Use this calculator to get a rough idea of what you should charge and not as your final authority.

Use your own judgment and feedback from your customers to determine what the best pricing might be that fits your circumstances.

Want to learn how to excel in your profession as a personal chef? Click the image below to view "Leadership Lessons From a Chef: Finding Time to Be Great"

• Track Your Finances

Use Outright free online accounting software to track your business' finances, unless you want to start with the granddaddy of all small business accounting packages Quickbooks by Intuit.

  • Outright is a simple to use software for micro businesses that even estimates your federal tax, which comes in handy when paying taxes.

  • It's all online based, which means you don't need to download any software and store your records on your computer.

  • Your data is stored on a secure server, and you can access it from any computer that has internet access.

  • The service is free for the time being, but Outright may decide to begin charging a fee at any time.

  • Once your business is well established, I recommend going with sturdier accounting software like Quickbooks Pro.

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