How Much Does It Cost To Start A Food Truck Business

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Food Truck Business

cost to start a food truck

A common question we are asked by our readers relates to food truck start up cost. Due to varied factors that can be used to determine this answer, we typically provide a broad range of $40,000 – $250,000. While it technically answers the question, it’s still a bit broad for someone trying to determine if opening a food truck business is something they can afford, or something they need to get a loan for. Because of this, we have generated this chart to help those interested in joining the mobile food industry.

In the chart, you’ll find three areas; one time start up costs, re-occurring start up costs and costs that vary from area to area. Each of these sections is subdivided by three price ranges; $ = low, $$ = average and $$$ = high for each area.

While this guide should be used as a general group of ranges, it is helpful for those interested in finding how much starting up a food truck business can cost.

Food Truck Business Start Up Costs

$ $$ $$$
One time start-up costs
Purchasing your food truck 5000 25000 125000
Vehicle inspection 100 300 500
Retrofitting and/or bring the truck up to code 25000 40000 50000
Generator 1500 5000 10000
Register/POS System 150 1250 2500
Paint 1000 2000 3000
Truck wrap 2500 3500 5000
Initial food purchases 500 1250 2000
Utensils and paper goods 500 1000 3500
Website design 500 3500 7500
Initial office equipment and supplies 200 500 1000
Initial advertising and PR 500 750 1000
Professional, legal and consulting fees 500 2000 5000
Reoccurring start-up costs
Payroll 1500 2500 3500
Commercial kitchen/Commissary rent 500 1500 3000
Credit card processing equipment 50 150 500
Fuel 250 300 400
Start-up costs which vary by location
Permits and licensing  50  500  10000
Insurance  300 500  1000

Please note:

  • Prices shown are not set in stone, and can change without notice.
  • Prices shown in the reoccurring categories are for 1 week.
  • Prices shown which vary by location are for 1 month.

So what do you think about the cost to start a food truck?

cost to start a food truck

While is may seem like a steep price to start a food truck business, try to compare these costs to that of a brick and mortar restaurant. The high end prices in this chart don’t come close to comparing to starting a small quick service restaurant.

Be sure to keep an eye open for contests. In season three of The Great Food Truck Race, they gave away a food truck to the eventual winners. Talk about a great way to cut down the cost to start a food truck business.

Related: Find Food Trucks For Sale Here

So how much were your food truck start up costs? Let us know in the comment section or drop us a line via our contact page if you would prefer to keep your food truck business start up cost a little more private.
Richard is an architect by degree (Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan) who began his career in real estate development and architectural planning. In September of 2010 he created Mobile Cuisine Magazine to fill an information void he found when he began researching how to start a mobile hotdog cart in Chicago. Richard found that there was no central repository of mobile street food information anywhere on the internet, and with that, the idea for MCM was born.


  1. At Discount Food Trucks we have created a basic truck for
    $50,000 that includes the truck, wrap, equipment and generator geared to keeping the costs affordable and providing an easier opportunity for serious entrepreneurs to enter the Mobile Food Industry. The industry is saturated with overpriced vehicles and we suggest lots of research and shopping before you make your purchase.

    Laura Burrell
    Mobile Food Consultant

    • Hi Laura, my parents are planning on NOT renewing their lease in their current place of business and are highly considering running a food truck in the Orange County/LA County areas, in California. Wanted to get some initial advisement as far as what is the best course of action for them. We have a trademarked product that customers go after and we believe this is enough to get us going.

    • Kailash, the website contains a lot of information about food trucks. Probably, the best website that I have found. if anyone knows of another one or better, please let me know.

  2. I would like to know what the average return on the investment is.i have work on food trucks only on an hourly bases and I’m going on my own. I have an investor but what is my prjected annual in come to be stated in my business plan I’m located in Boston ma. If I were to invest 125,000 what is a safe yearly return projection.

  3. In general, I would agree that the figures/ranges provided are reasonably accurate, though for the purpose of start-up budgeting, there are a couple of other CRITICAL line items which are not specifically accounted for: (1) Contingency – no matter how accurate your estimates something will ALWAYS cost more than anticipated. After adding all your cost estimates, consider adding a 5-15% of the total as contingency funding. In planning for this, the funds will be available if needed; if not they can be added to your… (2) Capital reserve – Unless VERY lucky, it is unlikely that your net income will hit projected levels on day one of your start up. A reasonable cash reserve must be on hand to get through this slower start-up period until such a time that the business is self-sustaining. One of the primary reasons for business failure is under capitalization. This is particularly true for an owner who plans on taking a regular draw/salary from the business. And on a side note… If relying on this as a sole source of income, put this in as a planned expense on your pro forma P&L. Do NOT assume that you will be able to meet your income needs from the business’ profits.

  4. This is a very good blueprint for what it cost to get a truck up and running. A food trailer can cut some of the cost down, such as fuel, cost of truck, and insurance, but other cost are fixed either way.

    Best to know up front the cost. As for return on investment… This is extremely hard to predict. I would expect to earn 20% to make it worth your time, and risk, but there are no guarantees when you self employed.

  5. 1. Buy Used equipment So many restaurants fail that there is always great equipment for pennies on the dollar. Check bank repos and local auctions.
    2. Consider a used food truck.
    3. Will a cart or trailer work for you? We started with a used crepe cart. Total startup costs under $6,000 including a van. 3 years later we are planning on opening our first brick and mortar.

  6. To Richard foote. Can you tell us more about your experience? What were you selling? Were you in a big city? Who was your target audience – people walking by, at fairs, outside companies? Did you experience any issues getting permits?

    Thank you

  7. I work with business owners in the food truck industry who are looking to finance a truck or trailer. Starting a food truck can be very profitable and my company can assist you with financing if you are serious about owning and operating your own food truck. Give me a call to learn more.

    Kristin Thayer
    CEO, FinCap, LLC
    Direct: 603-369-3461

    Visit our website to apply now – Equipment Financing, Working Capital & Merchant Processing

    “Financial Capital for You and Your Business”

  8. we bought our used truck for 15k and promptly put another 20 into making it meet state codes.We did the labor ourselves, It was just finished yesterday. I have another 6 k in expenses to insure it and run it through the state and stock it.before we can open we have to have a fire inspection, electrical, health dept, state LandI,Gas lines need to be pressure tested and the plumbing inspected. These things all add up, over and above the truck.We did most the work our self but had to pay for professionals to install the fire systems. However we also built a sandwich truck for a friend and the build costs was 5k plus her truck.. As with any thing it truly depends on what your goal is..the costs of the build is a direct reflection of your menu..If you dont know what you are going to serve stop looking at a truck until you figure it may not need a grill and fire suppression if you are only making sandwiches.

  9. […] of dollars. Getting the permit for a food truck, and complying with the various laws, can cost $15,000 at the high end. Regulations in the United States overall cost about 1.5 percent of the country’s […]

  10. […] of dollars. Getting the permit for a food truck, and complying with the various laws, can cost $15,000 at the high end. Regulations in the United States overall cost about 1.5 percent of the […]

  11. […] of dollars. Getting the permit for a food truck, and complying with the various laws, can cost $15,000 at the high end. Regulations in the United States overall cost about 1.5 percent of the […]

  12. now a days you can find a food truck for as low as $14,000 fully loaded. pretty good deals. Good Post, gives people an idea of a max amount they need to start up. It isn’t as easy as a lot of people think it is.

  13. These prices are ridiculous . If you can do most of the work you can do a truck for 20 k easily. If you cannot do the work then get out of the truck business, because all you money will eventually go into repairs etc. figure how to do it yourself first then decide if you want a truck business.

    • Sorry Chris, but probably 1% of the population have the skills needed to put a fully functioning food truck on the road themselves. To tell someone that since they don’t have a mechanical background they should ignore becoming a food truck is a kin to telling any business person that unless they can build the building they will operate out of that they should not start a business.

  14. Hi folks……My name is John Maxwell. I am originally from New Orleans and have over 40 years in all phases of the restaurant business. I am entering my third year now with my truck, The Ragin’ Cajun Food Truck here in Ft. Wayne Indiana. Even with all my experience , the “truck world” is quite different (operations wise) than a fixed location or even outside catering. As we close out year two, our truck is really booming now and I would be more than willing to answer any questions about any aspect of owning and starting a truck. Check us out on Facebook ( lot’s of pictures) and by sending me a PM on FB is prolly the best way to get a quick response to your question and hopefully I can save you some time and money as I have already made my share of mistakes ( even after doing my own research and having tons of practical experience). I ask for nothing in return ,nor am I trying to sell you anything ( other than a Po-Boy maybe and only if you happen to be in front of my truck window) . So with that I wish you good luck and let the questions begin. Thanks.

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