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How Much Does a Personal Chef Cost?

Last Updated on December 10, 2023
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Between planning, preparing, serving, and cleaning up after meals, the average American family spends nearly 40 minutes a day in the kitchen – adding up to over 260 hours a year.

As lives grow increasingly hectic, many households consider hiring a personal chef to lighten the daily dinner burden. At first glance, the service may seem like an extravagance only the ultra-wealthy can afford.

However, depending on where you live and your unique needs, a personal chef may cost comparable to a household’s weekly restaurant or takeout budget.

How Much Does a Personal Chef Cost?

Across most US cities, expect to pay a personal chef $200-$300 weekly to prepare five fresh home-cooked meals catering to a family of four. How does that stack up to alternatives?

An average American household spends $4,100 per year dining out. Another $5,600 goes toward groceries for home preparation.

Private chef experiences on Cozymeal range from $59 to $129 for each guest.

According to a Reddit discussion, a personal chef charges $325/day plus the cost of groceries and typically makes $35-$45/hr, including menu planning and grocery shopping.

Kale Chef Service states that the average cost of a personal chef is about $465, with average prices ranging from $180 to $750 in the US for 2022. The cost for daily private chef services in Phoenix or Scottsdale starts at $450 a day, plus groceries.

MiumMium has an article in which it states that a private chef costs on average $55 per person, plus tips. The cost of a personal chef globally averages between $400 and $900 for a dinner for 8 adults.

Down to Earth Cuisine notes that most personal chefs charge by the hour, ranging from $75-$125 per hour in the Seattle area. Their fee for personal chef service is $95 per hour.

As busy lives have fueled the popularity of takeout, meal kits, restaurant delivery, drive-thrus, and the like for quick convenience, some households discover paying more for personalized chef-prepared menus enhances nutrition without demanding extra time.

Especially for homes struggling with dietary restrictions or allergies, professional chefs with the knowledge to carefully prepare specialized ingredients for your needs provide value beyond mere money.

When balancing the cost of a personal chef against what you already pay for convenience foods now, the prices may surprise you. Weigh the benefits like time savings, reduced stress, customized nutrition, and more against prices when deciding if a private cook fits your budget.personal chef

What’s Included & What’s Not

What’s Included? At its core, you pay for personalized meal creation. But chefs handle numerous supporting tasks:

Custom Weekly Meal Planning

Chefs tailor menus to satisfy preferences and dietary limitations with variety and nutrition in mind. This thoughtful program planning ensures you’ll enjoy home-cooked dishes despite restrictions.

Handling Grocery Shopping

Ingredients for food preparation don’t purchase themselves! Based on your approved menu, chefs hand-select every necessary herb, spice, vegetable, and protein ensuring you receive quality ingredients catered to your taste.

Preparing and Cooking Your Meals

Chopping, slicing, mixing, baking, simmering, tasting – chefs handle the hands-on cooking duties so you needn’t pick up a knife or turn on the stove if you’d rather not.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a butler, personal nutritionist, or personal trainer.

Packaging Your Portions

Chefs won’t simply place piping-hot dishes on the counter when finished. They carefully apportion servings into reliable storage to preserve freshness and support easy reheating.

Clean Up

If chefs prepare food on-site in your home, you can expect they tidy up after themselves rather than leaving you facing mountains of dirty pots and pans.

 

What’s not covered? The actual cost of food itself. You pay for labor – not products. Be prepared to pay for high-quality groceries on top of service fees.

How Personal Chefs Determine Rates

Personal chefs typically charge by the hour, week, or meal. Exact pricing depends on several factors:

Location’s Cost of Living

Ingredient expenses are directly tied to where you live. For example, a gallon of milk costs $3.47 in Jacksonville but $4.69 in New York City currently. Factors like real estate, taxes, and distribution networks impact local food costs.

Naturally, chefs must earn enough to live in the area, so wages in the area play a role too.

Number of Servings

Chefs often create menus and charge based on portions needed. Feeding a family of 5 takes more ingredients and potentially more prep than a family of two. Some chefs simplify pricing with a flat rate per meal served.

Special Dietary Requirements

Households with multiple food limitations or allergies add complexity versus cooking without restrictions. Accommodating specialty needs like dairy-free, vegan, or kosher diets can require additional planning and care in getting and preparing food to avoid cross-contamination.

Some chefs charge slightly higher rates for these customized menus.

Ingredient Quality

Conscientious families wanting organic, locally-sourced, non-GMO, ethically raised, or exotic ingredients must pay the premium food costs. Chefs pass those expenses along through higher meal fees.

Service Frequency

Most independent chefs charge hourly or price packages based on how often you want meals delivered. Obviously, visiting daily costs more than weekly drop-ins.

Cooking Location

Some chefs prepare food off-site in licensed commercial kitchens for efficiency and transport meals to clients. Others come on-site to access household equipment and ingredients which has time and cleanup costs factored into rates.

Business Scale

Independent chefs take care of all administrative work like invoicing and shopping in addition to cooking. Those costs are distributed across support staff at larger corporate personal chef firms, making employee prices potentially more competitive.

Chef Experience Level

Top culinary institutes and long resumes will also mean higher prices than home cooks transitioning into the career. Expert menu development and refined cooking skills carry real value for clients.

Extras

Each household brings unique demands. Accommodating specialized cooking equipment requests or high-maintenance clients reasonably increases pricing.

Geographic Variations When You Hire a Personal Chef

Personal chef’s rates vary widely across the United States based on all the previously described factors from local ingredient rates to cost of living. However, to illustrate costs, consider these rough weekly estimates for 5 meals catering to a family of 4.

City Price ($)
Charlotte $250
Columbus $263
Jacksonville $294
Austin $305
Chicago $333
Los Angeles $347
Denver $350
Memphis $375
New York City $392
San Francisco $420
Philadelphia $430
Dallas $440
San Diego $450
Nashville $460
Portland $470

Tack on another $60-$200 per week to those baseline rates to cover the actual grocery ingredients costs. Keep in mind specialty menus, higher-end ingredients, and greater household size would lift pricing even higher.

Save Money When You Hire a Private Chef

If professionally prepared custom meals still stretch beyond reach, get creative by trying these alternatives:

Recruit an Amateur Chef

A family friend with serious home cooking chops but no formal credentials may welcome opportunities to earn extra income through a side hustle. Lacking formal training brings rates down. Remember to verify your area’s legal business licensing requirements.

Split the Private Chef Cost

If you know another household interested in trying a personal chef too, consider sharing one. Most chefs can easily double recipes as needed. Then you split dishes as desired once delivered.

Consider Meal Delivery Services

Meal kit services provide pre-made dishes to simply reheat and eat. While not as tailored as a personal chef, quality prepared meal delivery offers decent variety at lower costs in some regions.

Compare Cost to Convenience Food

Already leaning hard on takeout, delivery, or restaurant meals because they feel quick and easy? A personal chef answering your exact preferences may justify slightly higher costs long-term. Crunch numbers comparing current convenience food spending against fresh, customized fare.

For many families struggling to juggle long work hours with meal responsibilities amidst busy kids’ schedules and social calendars, a personal chef reduces friction. The timesavings and reduced stress around dinner provide peace of mind that indirectly pays dividends. Run the math – you may find reasonable ways to swing the household budget to afford this modern luxury.

Alec Pow
3 replies
  1. david powell
    david powell says:

    Hello,
    Good day,My name is Steven, how you doing today and hope you doing great? i got your info online I will like to know if you are available for culinary lessons for my daughters,I’m organizing a surprise training for them .please get back to me so we can discuss in details.Do you accept credit card as mode of payment?
    Regards.

    Reply
  2. Laura
    Laura says:

    Though your article does outine the duties of a personal chef, your pricing is off the wall – where do you get this? “The average cost that a personal chef charges is typically between $240 and $550 per meal” Do you mean meal service or 10 meals? Because a per plate/meal cost of this range is instance. Many chefs will come in between $25-40 a meal, based on organic, main dish, and geography. Though this is more expensive than McDonalds or Hello Fresh, the quality of food and personalization as well as the ability to come home and have a customized, fresh meal ready in mins is invaluable to many of our customers. Fast food is junk and dangerous for many with restrictive diets, and boxed meals really only save you shopping time, but are restrictive to their menu of the week, and ingredients in the box. In addition, many clients feel that the relationship they build with their personal chef is a huge plus. The chef gets to know their likes, quirks, and can anticipate needs. A personal chef can also cater parties fro their clients, again with customized full service and the knowledge of their experience working with that client.

    As for not getting personal chef if you rely on average wage – again for some clients we can help them save money, improve health, and reduce stress. Often larger orders that can be frozen are more economical when using a personal chef, helping reduce the per plate cost of each meal. Personal chefs can come on an as needed basis, not locked into an every week situation. Now it is true thatnot ever person can afford a personal chef, but many who may not think they can, should still consider the options. You can share with family and friends, so one larger order can be divided for cost savings. Please don’t give personal chefs a bad name and please get your pricing numbers corrected. We aren’t the French Laundry or “The Menu”. But we can cook gourmet meals for you at home.

    Reply
    • Cheryl Tate
      Cheryl Tate says:

      Well said Laura, As a Personal chef for many years, I helped many a client with their meals on a need only basis. We improve their lives in many ways.

      Reply

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