Want to help your kids learn about starting a business, managing money, comparing costs, showing gratitude to customers, and more? Check out all the details on this frozen cookie dough ball business for kids.
If you live in our area (southwestern suburbs of Philadelphia) and want some frozen cookie dough balls in your freezer ASAP, here’s the flyer below with more information and a link to the Google Form to sign up! If you’re not sure if they deliver to you, email the boys at [email protected] and they’ll let you know.
As we settled into school, we realized the boys had a decent amount of free time. Thankfully, the boys’ teachers don’t need a full six hours of screen time to get through all the lessons.
I saw one of my favorite bloggers, Janssen of Everyday Reading, share that her oldest daughter started a frozen cookie dough delivery business and absolutely loved the idea. With time on their hands, my boys jumped at the chance to start a little business of their own.
Janssen’s idea was so good and my boys love to bake, so we did almost exactly what her daughter did. Mimicry is the best form of flattery (thank you Janssen!), and the boys are so stoked! She lives far from us, so I figured my little guys wouldn’t compete with her daughter. If she ever grows her business to Philly, we can honor her space. 💛
This past week, the boys made their first two deliveries. It’s been so fun to see them learn and watch them experience the excitement of each sale. If you’re interested, here are all the details about how they got started and how we’re making it work.
Decide on Cookie Recipes
First, the boys picked which cookie dough flavors they wanted to sell. They chose to start simple with just two flavors, chocolate chip and M&M. If they continue the business, they can expand their menu to offer more offerings, but for starters, two felt right.
Find and Test Perfect Cookie Dough Recipes
We make cookies at home often, so we had several chocolate chip cookie dough recipes from past baking endeavors. We picked a couple of recipes that have worked well for us, and the boys made two batches for test recipes. They made one batch of chocolate chip cookies and one batch of M&M cookies.
They rolled cookie dough balls and placed them on a cookie sheet to freeze individually. After a few hours, they transferred the frozen cookie dough balls to airtight bags for storage so they would be available for their first order.
Calculate Cost Per Batch
Set on a recipe, they needed to determine how much ingredients cost for each batch. From there, they determined how much to charge in order to ensure they made a reasonable but not outrageous profit.
My older son made a spreadsheet, with some help from me, to list out the amount of each ingredient needed. Then he used the Wegman’s website to determine the price for each ingredient.
This process involved quite a bit of math and the use of formulas in Excel. Most ingredients aren’t sold in the exact quantities needed for a full batch of cookies. Thus, he needed to convert each ingredient into the cost per unit and multiply the cost per unit by the total units in a batch of cookie dough.
My older son really likes math and enjoys learning how to do new things in Excel. He’s the son of two accountants, what can I say. Even if your child doesn’t love math, this is a fun way to show how math matters in real life and give them a chance to practice math in a way that will matter to them.
The biggest surprise from the exercise was the fact that butter represents nearly half the cost of a batch of cookies. Butter is expensive!
As he researched his ingredients, he realized many ingredients had multiple versions available. In some cases, different alternatives of the same ingredient sold for significantly different prices. We talked about making decisions to buy brand name versus generic ingredients. We also discussed the pros and cons of buying organic and conventional ingredients.
Each child might arrive at a different answer, but it was eye-opening to him to realize how many options there were and how different pricing can be.
Once he had his spreadsheet with his cost information, he selected a price that gave him a good profit margin while also weighing the desire to keep a price low for potential customers. Janssen’s daughter must have done a similar analysis because their prices were perfect, so we used the same ones.
Shop For Ingredients
The boys were so excited to visit the grocery store and buy supplies to fill their first orders. We walked through the store and revisited much of the analysis of different prices for organic versus conventional and brand name versus generic alternatives. I also showed them how the price markers on the shelves include a price per unit for each product, which made it easier to compare two similar products.
At the risk of overstating the value of the cost comparison exercises on the spreadsheet and in the store, the experience was so helpful for our boys. They had little exposure to how much things actually cost and hadn’t really thought about different versions of the same product having such dramatically different prices. Even if you don’t want to start a real business, I highly recommend doing this exercise as a game with your kids.
Prepare and Bake Test Dough Balls
When we bake for ourselves, I let the boys lead even if they might not measure ingredients exactly right or leave a big mess behind. For these frozen cookie dough balls, however, I stressed the importance of accuracy and execution because the product was being delivered to someone else. Because their customers were paying for the product, they needed to ensure that the recipes were made properly and the cookies would bake well.
They made a practice batch of each flavor and baked a test run for each one. The chocolate chip cookies turned out beautifully. The first batch of M&M cookies left a little something to be desired. The boys adjusted the recipe a bit, tried it again, and found a recipe that worked.
We decided to use packaging we already had on hand before buying anything new. If you’ve been around the blog for a hot second, you know our low waste priorities always encourage using things we already have before investing in new things.
I had a package of small brown dessert boxes that I purchased a while back for a reason I do not recall. I showed the boys how to create the little brown boxes and package six frozen cookie dough balls inside a plastic bag in each of the little brown boxes.
They created baking instructions in Canva and printed out a small instruction sheet to go along with each box of frozen cookie dough balls.
They haven’t finalized how they will package the frozen cookie dough balls after using up the packaging we already have, but I’m sure we’ll find something perfectly suitable and simple for their little frozen cookie dough ball business.
Create Email Address To Accept Orders
I wanted the boys to have their own email account to create the Google form and also to accept orders. Not only did I not want order information to get lost in my email, but I also wanted them to be able to take ownership of checking the email account, following up with customers, and sending thank you emails after delivery.
We created a free Gmail account which also allowed the boys to have a space to create the Google order form separate from my Google Drive. I have access to the Gmail account from my phone, so the boys can easily check for new orders.
Create Google Order Form
To create the Google order form, we simply copied the one Janssen’s daughter created. She did such a fantastic job with it that we couldn’t help ourselves. Thank you Ella for all your hard work; we owe you one.
After setting up the Google Form, the boys created all of the questions and I double-checked their work to make sure everything made sense.
While it might seem easy for an adult to create a quick Google form, the boys struggled quite a bit to get this complete. It proved to be a lot of typing for their little hands. They stopped and started many times over the course of two days until the form was finally complete.
On many occasions, I thought about completing the form for them. But I really thought it was important to ensure they did the work themselves. After all, this experience is really about understanding the level of work that goes into starting a business and also learning the skills necessary to get something simple up and running.
Create Informational Flyer
Using Canva, the best graphic design software ever, I helped the boys create a little logo and promotional flyer to attach to the email. Not only does it include all the information a customer might need to order frozen cookie dough balls, but hopefully friends and family could also print it out or forward along the email to share with friends.
Draft Email To Tell Friends
Next up, the boys needed to spread the word about their new venture. I helped them draft an email to send to family and friends in the local area. If you’re curious, here’s what they wrote:
We love eating cookies, especially when they are fresh out of the oven. But who loves cleaning up a cookie dough mess?
We’ve been hard at work doing virtual school from home, and we’ve had a little extra time on our hands to make cookies for our bellies and a few extras for you, your family, and your friends too.
We decided to start TJ Cooks to offer cookie dough ball delivery to your home. Now you can have fresh, homemade cookies without all the work of making it on your own. We deliver frozen cookie dough balls when you would like them and on a monthly subscription basis. We’ve attached a flyer with more information about what we offer.
We would love to bring delicious, warm cookies to your kitchen! When you’re ready to order, fill out this Cookie Dough Sign Up form and we’ll get you just what you want.
With Lots of Sugar and Chocolate,
[My Boys Names], Founders of TJ Cooks
For another version, head over to Janssen’s blog where she shared what her daughter included in her email as well. She took a different spin on her message, so you can use both for idea starters.
Create Baking Instructions Sheet
As I mentioned above, the boys used Canva to create a simple branded baking instructions sheet. I explained to them that they need to tell their customers how to bake the cookies so the customers can have a great experience with their product. They print and cut out a square piece of paper about 4 in by 4 in and tape it to the box of frozen cookie dough balls with each delivery.
Send Email And Wait For Orders
With all of the pieces put together, it was time to send out the email to friends and family to let them know the boys were in business. About once a day, the boys check the email account to see if any new orders have arrived.
It is so adorable to see how excited they are with each new order. Smiles shine across their faces whenever they get to prepare and deliver another batch of frozen cookie dough balls to a friend or neighbor.
When orders come in, I encourage the boys to fill the orders themselves. For the first couple of orders, I showed them what to do. Now they are seasoned veterans and can pretty much prepare an order entirely on their own.
We do our best to deliver the orders as soon as possible, but of course, we work it around school, sports, and other family activities. As you would expect, friends and neighbors ordering frozen cookie dough balls from two young boys are generally pretty flexible about when they receive them.
Send Emails to Acknowledge Orders, Coordinate Delivery, and Thank For Orders
I’ve also encouraged the boys to send confirmation emails when they receive an order to let the customer know that the order was processed and is being prepared for delivery. I helped them write the first email, and now they can pretty much write the email themselves. Truly, typing might be the hardest part at this point.
After delivery, they also write a thank you email telling the customer they appreciated their order, asking for any feedback, and suggesting the customer pass along the flyer to any friends or family in the local area who might also love frozen cookie dough balls in their freezer.
Last but not least, I manage the cash for the most part. They have bank accounts where they keep birthday money and such. I use my credit card to purchase ingredients and withdraw money from their bank accounts to reimburse me.
They accept payments for cookie dough via Venmo, cash, or check. Electronic payments come to me, so I simply transfer money to them after each sale. We haven’t started a cash supply yet, but I plan to give them an envelope with a bit of cash to keep cash payments and give change for those who pay in cash.
I expected my boys would thrive running a little business like this, and they have loved every minute of it just as much as I anticipated. It’s also offered so many opportunities for learning that I did not even foresee.
It took a couple of hours of my time to help them get everything set up. We generally work in deliveries in the afternoon or evening on our way to sports practices. They make the cookie dough balls after school, on the weekends, or during breaks between Zoom lessons.
If you have any more questions, by all means, let me know. I’d be happy to answer them. You can also check Janssen’s post for her take on the idea.
Lastly, if you live near us (in the southwestern suburbs of Philadelphia) and want some frozen cookie dough balls, get in touch and I’ll send you all the details! The boys would LOVE to have you as their newest customer.