I frequently check our lists of the best Android apps and the best iPhone apps, trying to find new additions to my phone to play with, but they rarely make such a big change in my life as Too Good To Go.
I first heard about this app during lockdown, but when you hear me describe what it does, you’ll understand why I haven’t used it much when I’m stuck inside. However, someone recently reintroduced it to me, and I can’t believe I was missing it all the time.
Too Good To Go lets me combine three of my favorite things: saving money, helping the planet, and eating lots of great food – and I recommend you check it out too.
What is Too Good to Leave?
Too Good To Go, according to its website, is an app that aims to help reduce food waste.
You use the app to find local and eligible stores, cafes, restaurants and similar businesses. Each will offer you certain time slots – some will have lunch rush slots right after lunch, and some will have late-night dinner rush slots, for example.
You will pay a small amount of money through the app and come to the store at the corresponding window. Then you will receive a goody bag based on what you ordered. You might receive leftover meals from a cafe if you ordered the lunch option, for example.
why it’s awesome
“So…you just buy food deliveries?” “I know what you’re thinking. Well, not quite – on Too Good To Go you’ll usually pay between a quarter and a third of what the food is actually worth.
Why is it so cheap? Well, that’s because it’s food that the outlet won’t be able to sell any longer – maybe it’s at its best before date, or the house rules of the place force them to sell only food prepared that day.
This doesn’t mean you get wasted food – it will still be fresh. But, for example, if you pick up a bag at 10 p.m. just before the store closes, it must dispose of the food that evening, because in the morning it will not be suitable for sale. Most stores would otherwise throw it away – but thanks to Too Good To Go you can get it for a super low price.
I often pick up bags from my local Starbucks near closing time – I get four or five items for the price you’d normally pay for just one, and it’s often a good mix between toasted sandwiches, pastries and sweet foods like muffins or brownies.
But different restaurants, cafes, and stores near me have different windows, so if I need to be too early or too late for Starbucks, I might head somewhere else instead. It’s charming and versatile – I live right next to a popular commuter train station, which has endless options.
You sometimes have the option of filtering by dietary requirements – I’m a vegetarian so that’s really helpful, although it limits the selection somewhat. But I’ve often found that even if I don’t opt for a bag of vegetables (when the option isn’t there), I’m often asked about dietary requirements anyway, so take some vegetarian food without having to reserve it.
To save money
You could make the very real argument that picking up bags of cheap Starbucks muffins isn’t “saving money,” since I wouldn’t buy them at the store on a normal day. So I always spend more money than an average day, but not so a lot.
However, Too Good To Go also covers groceries, and this is where I saved a lot of money.
There are a few convenience stores and groceries near me that allow me to reserve random bags of groceries that are going to go soon – recently for just £3 I got £20 worth of food including loads of fresh vegetables, hummus, pasta and more. I got some good meals out of it.
(I’m using UK currency and numbers for this article, as I’m based there – but rest assured, the app is available in other places around the world, including the US).
As a human, I eat groceries, so getting them incredibly cheap was amazing. Sure, the food was about to go – but as I made sure to cook with it for the next few days and gave some to my housemates, nothing was wasted.
I’ve also used Too Good To Go when dining out with friends – some “street food” restaurants (basically more classic fast food) let you take out dishes at certain times, and I caught two burritos for £6 when I had a bite to eat with a friend. If I paid full price it would be around £18-20. Nice!
It’s really easy to use Too Good To Go to find those places too, since the app lets you play with tons of filters. You can view places on a map, filter by type of food (groceries, meals, snacks), view through availability windows to organize your availabilities, it’s great.
Too awesome, perhaps – I’ve now become obsessed with the app.
Save the planet
Of course, Too Good To Go is great for my wallet, and also for my taste buds, but as the brand’s website says, its main goal is to help the planet.
That’s because food waste is a big problem in the world – we produce too much food that isn’t eaten. According to Friends of the Earth, a third of the food produced in the world is either lost or wasted, which when you think about it, is a disconcerting figure.
This figure includes, apparently, 240,000 tonnes of food wasted by UK supermarkets every year – which on some quick math is equivalent to around 60,000 Asian elephants (although I don’t think we sell them in supermarkets UK) .
Obviously, this is something Too Good To Go helps – if you save cheap groceries from the landfill, you are actively stopping food waste.
Not only will this cause less food to be thrown into a big pit, clogging up our beautiful planet, but you’re sending the message to the food industry that you care about the issue of food waste.
There are a few small perks I discovered: when I did that aforementioned grocery shopping, I got plenty of great fresh ingredients that encouraged me to cook a dish to incorporate them all. It’s made me more experimental with my food (making the weirdest, but most interesting lasagna I’ve ever cooked up) and made me eat healthier, which is obviously also good for the body and the planet.
Also, I frequent independent businesses a lot more, usually just to buy cheap food, but it encourages me to go back even when I’m not using the app.
As a member of TechRadar’s phone team, I download apps all the time, but rarely feel compelled to write long articles about them. However, Too Good To Go inspired me with its mission to save the planet and save money – and it really doesn’t hurt that I can eat loads of good food while doing it too.