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I make a really great smoked brisket and usually give quite a lot away when cooking at rallies, races, tail-gating etc. This time I want to try selling the sandwiches.

I have no clue how to figure out how many sandwiches per pound. How would I figure that out?

What about prices - how should I select a price per sandwich? How can I estimate how much money I might make selling them?

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Setting prices just isn't something we could possibly do for you. Its what the market will bare and what your costs are. You'll need to figure up your ingredient costs, labor costs, advertising, estimated maintenance, and depreciation. Then double and add some for profit. Then you determine if your price is comparable with a competitive product and thus if its a good market to enter or if you think your product is worth a premium. This is much more an economics questions than a cooking question. –  rfusca Jan 24 '12 at 19:00
    
@rfusca- I think this is a valid question. What considerations need to be taken into account when calculating food prices. What process can be used? Perhaps even- How does one go about becoming a licensed food vendor? –  Sobachatina Jan 24 '12 at 19:04
    
I am sorry to hear about your hard situation, and I wish you that it turns well. But I am afraid that we are not qualified to answer most of your questions. And bad advice from well-meaning but uninformed people can be really dangerous, especially where legal matters are at stake. I would recommend that you talk about it with somebody qualified - maybe the local employment agency can offer legal and economic advice on starting a mini-business? The only cooking-related answer is one only you can find out - make a batch of sandwiches as usual and count how many you got out of a pound of meat. –  rumtscho Jan 24 '12 at 19:07
    
@Sobachatina I am quite sure that the community closed a "how does one become a food vendor" question a while back, just because it is a legal, not cooking matter, and it also varies regionally. –  rumtscho Jan 24 '12 at 19:08
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thanks everyone...i figured the cooking part would be some formula (give or take) like 10lbs=so many sandwiches. I've cooked hundred of briskets, just never served in retail setting. as far as legal stuff, if the rally allows me to accept as donations none of that will apply. rallies are closed events and vendors are responsible for reporting their own earnings etc. bikers are a very close net group and will always help each other out. –  Smiley Jan 24 '12 at 19:45
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1 Answer

Dennis,

Welcome to the site! Generally we focus on the "how to make food" side here, but I thought I'd suggest some things to consider from a layman's perspective. There is no standard formula for how to figure this out because so much depends on your exact situation. (The amount of meat per sandwich is the result of your own cooking style.) Be forewarned - lots of research and math is ahead of you!

You need to make a profit, so first you need to figure out how much it costs you to make the brisket sandwiches. What are your food costs (include transportation costs)? (It's important to keep your portions uniform for all units; consider using a measuring cup to dish out the meat per sandwich.) What is the cost of your time (including shopping, cooking, cleaning, advertising, and selling)? What is the cost to construct it (your charcoal / electricity, and new equipment)? How much does it cost you to sell it (napkins and other service ware, table, stall rental, advertising,)? Even if you're working "under the radar" for now, eventually you'll have to get licenses, permits and a food-legal kitchen, and you may have to change your prices then. Consider it all, and add it all up.

Once you've got a well researched amount for the costs, divide that by the number of units (sandwiches) that you produce. You need to make at least that much to break even. Probably you want to charge at least twice that (probably higher).

Analyze whether that price you've come up with will work in your target market. Do you need to increase the price to avoid leaving money on the table? Look at your competition - how much are they charging? Price is a funny thing - and you'll have to massage it a lot. (If you undercut the competition by a lot, you may just have a lowered perception of quality rather than more customers. But if you're much higher than the competition, customers may never try you.) You can also consider selling the sandwiches at not much of a profit, and hoping to make up the difference with soda pop or sides.

Good luck!

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