how to start a food truck with no money

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The food truck industry has burgeoned into an enticing avenue for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a food truck venture. It opens doors for those fascinated by the food business but who may not have the capital for traditional restaurant ownership. The notion of starting a food truck with no money might seem like a distant dream, but don’t forget, you don’t need vast sums to break into this dynamic industry. With innovation, determination, and a proper understanding of the marketplace, even food truck owners with limited resources can carve out a delectable niche and become part of this ever-evolving culinary landscape.

What Is A Food Truck?

A food truck, or mobile truck, is a versatile platform to sell food and reach a broad customer base. With the flexibility to find a place in various locations and the ability to sell anything from hot dogs to gourmet dishes, food trucks have become a booming segment of the food business.

There are different kinds of food trucks that align with various types of restaurants. Some common ones include:

  • Gourmet Food Trucks: Offering delicious food and specializing in specific cuisines or gourmet dishes.
  • Fast Food Trucks: Selling quick meals like burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches.
  • Dessert Trucks: A perfect option if you want to sell ice cream, pastries, or other sweet treats.

A food truck’s success isn’t just about the food; it’s also about where you find a place to sell it. Location planning forms a significant part of opening a food truck, allowing entrepreneurs to reach diverse audiences with minimal investment.

What Do You Need To Start a Food Truck? 

The food truck industry is exploding with opportunities, and there’s no better time to start your food truck journey. From street food to gourmet offerings, a food truck can cater to various tastes. Here’s a breakdown of what starting a new food truck business involves:

Food truck Ideas/Concepts

When you decide to start your food truck, the first step is choosing the right concept. From street food to specific ethnic cuisines, you must identify a niche that resonates with your target audience. Find creative food truck ideas here.

Conduct thorough market research to understand the tastes and preferences of the locals. It may include visiting festivals, office buildings, or campuses where food vendors operate.

Food truck Names and Menu

Your menu items must align with your theme, and it may come with options suitable for a festival or single location. Don’t forget to offer some signature dishes that’ll make your food truck explode in popularity!

Food truck business plan

A detailed business plan is essential to succeed in the food industry. It includes everything from your mission to the financial projections. Check out this guide on creating a food truck business plan.

Food truck financial plan

The financial aspect of the food truck business varies from country to country. Whether you plan to buy brand new equipment or use a commercial kitchen, understanding the costs is vital.

Food truck permits and licenses

Operating a food truck requires numerous permits and licenses. They differ depending on the location and the type of food service you offer. It’s wise to consult with local authorities to ensure compliance.

Food truck marketing

Promotional activities are essential to make your food truck known. Social media, participation in local events, and partnerships can boost your visibility. Explore these effective food truck marketing strategies.

Invest in Technology

An online ordering system, like Menubly, can transform your food truck business. Customers can browse your menu from home, place orders for pickup or delivery, and make payments right from their smartphones. This not only offers convenience but also speeds up service, as you can prepare your food ahead of time based on incoming orders.

A food truck POS system like ToastPOS or Square can help manage sales, track inventory, and even analyze sales data to identify trends. This information can be invaluable as you take your truck to different locations and need to anticipate demand.

How Much Does It Cost To Start a Food Truck? 

Starting a food truck business is an exciting venture, but understanding the food truck start-up costs is crucial for a successful launch. From acquiring the truck to securing permits and marketing, the expenses can quickly add up. Here’s a detailed look at what you’ll need:

Acquiring the Food Truck

The most significant chunk of your startup capital to start a food truck will go into buying or renting the actual truck:

  • Buying a Food Truck: This can range from $75,000 to $150,000. It’s a substantial investment and should align with your venue and concept. 
  • Renting a Food Truck: If you’re not ready to invest a hundred thousand dollars or more upfront, renting is an option. This will cost between $2000 to $3000 per month.

Licenses and Permits

These are critical for legal operations and vary widely based on location and nature of the business. Don’t underestimate these costs; they are an integral part of the business setup.

Truck Commissary Fees

You might need to acquire a space in a commercial kitchen or a truck commissary, depending on local regulations. These fees will affect your overall cash flow.


Ingredients, gasoline, and propane for cooking are recurring expenses. It’s vital to plan these carefully to maintain a healthy cash flow.

Staff, Insurance, and Maintenance

  • Staff: Hiring skilled staff is essential but adds to the startup costs.
  • Insurance: Liability insurance is a must for protecting against potential legal issues.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance ensures smooth operations but adds to ongoing costs.


Effective marketing can propel your food truck to success. Whether through social media or local advertising, you’ll need to budget for promotional activities.

Understanding how much food trucks make can help in planning your budget and setting realistic financial goals. Remember, thorough research and careful planning are key to avoiding unexpected expenses and ensuring a successful food truck startup.

Tips To Start A Food Truck Business With No Money

Starting a food truck business with no money may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s more attainable than you might think. By leveraging some creative strategies and embracing a scrappy entrepreneurial spirit, the goal of owning a mobile food enterprise becomes feasible. Here are some tried and tested tips to guide you on how to start a food truck business with no budget:

Start with a Cart or Stand Instead of a Food Truck

If a brand-new food truck is out of your budget, why not begin with a cart or stand? This approach allows you to enter the mobile food business at a fraction of the cost. It’s an excellent way to test your culinary concept and gain valuable experience at special events or farmer’s markets. Plus, starting small is often seen as more approachable by local municipalities and makes obtaining necessary permits more straightforward.

Buy a Used Food Truck

 It’s easy to think that a new, shiny truck is essential, but a used food truck can serve just as well. Look for reputable sources offering used food truck sales. Many seasoned food truck owners sell their fully-equipped vehicles, and you might even find a burger truck ready to go!

Rent Equipment

Rather than investing in all the necessary kitchen equipment, renting or using a shared commissary kitchen is a smart move. Local associations often provide access to shared commercial kitchen spaces, reducing start-up costs and giving you the chance to network with other mobile food entrepreneurs.

Start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Begin with a limited menu, focusing on a few delicious items that reflect your food concept. This strategy not only cuts down on costs but offers a way to test your menu items’ appeal with real customers. A juicy burger, a fresh salad, or an ethnic dish can attract initial customers and allow you to refine the menu as the business grows.

Get a Business Partner

Partnering with someone who shares your passion for food can lighten the financial burden. Together, you can navigate the challenges of a mobile food business, pooling resources, skills, and creativity.

Get Family and Friends Involved

Don’t be shy about enlisting family and friends to help. Whether it’s assistance with branding, cooking, or serving at special events, their support can make a significant difference without impacting your budget.

Use a Restaurant Incubator

Restaurant incubators provide a nurturing environment for new food entrepreneurs. They often provide access to shared kitchens, mentorship, and other support services, enabling you to develop and grow your mobile food business at a manageable cost.

Apply for Restaurant Loans or Explore Capital Opportunities

Although starting with no money, you might still qualify for small business loans or grants through local associations and government entities. Investigate your municipality’s offerings, and don’t overlook crowdfunding as a creative way to raise capital.


Platforms like Kickstarter have become a legitimate source for small business funding. Crafting a compelling campaign that shares your culinary vision can tap into a community of supporters eager to see your food truck dream come true.

Setting up a website for your food truck

When setting up your food truck, it’s crucial to explore ways to attract more customers to your food truck. One effective way to do this is by having a dedicated website where your customers can learn everything about your food truck anytime, anywhere. 

Menubly lets you create a mini website with a built-in online menu which centralizes all important information about your food truck into one accessible link. It makes it easy for your customers to interact with your food truck: they can view your menu, find your location, book a table, place delivery orders… all in one place.

By adding your mini website link in your Instagram bio and other social media profiles, or sharing it directly with customers, you make it easy for them to discover and engage with your food truck through a single, convenient link. This streamlined approach not only enhances customer experience but also boosts your online presence and attract more customers.

Best of all? You can set up your Menubly mini website for Free in just under 5 minutes and tailor it to match your food truck’s style.  

Ready to boost your food truck’s online presence? Click here to create your free website with Menubly!


This guide on how to start a food truck business without money provides a practical roadmap for those daring enough to follow their culinary dreams, even when finances are tight. By embracing creativity, determination, and the tried-and-true strategies outlined above, you can make those dreams a reality. The last thing you want is to let financial constraints hold you back from pursuing your passion. So take the first step, tap into your resourcefulness, and embark on the exciting journey of running your mobile food business. The opportunity awaits, and success may be closer than you think!