Ever wondered where the food that restaurants don’t sell goes? We like to think it goes to a good cause, maybe a homeless shelter or local food bank. Even if the staff get to take it home, that’s preferable to the bin. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Whilst I worked in a cafe for a big UK supermarket chain, we were told to count the waste and throw it out. Taking it home was not permitted but we still found ways around this of course. (Think, brown paper bags filled with scones zipped up in our jackets). Sometimes they did fill a trolley for staff to pick from on their way out but more often than not anything not sold was tossed out. For a brief period of a month or so, they did attempt to save it for a food bank. Then without reason, we went back to binning the goods.
Too Good To Go acknowledges that food waste is an issue that can be easily avoided and reduced. The app offers ‘magic bags’ for restaurants or cafes in your local area. You pay a discounted price for a selection of food that would otherwise be thrown out that day. Then you go to the store during an allotted time to collect your ‘magic bag’. So the store makes money off food they would otherwise throw out, you get cheaper food or groceries and the food waste is reduced. Sounds like everybody is a winner, no?
One of my friends suggested Too Good To Go to me in our first year of university. After having the app downloaded all year, I finally decided to give it a go. When scrolling, you can see the nearest places to you, places to collect for dinner and can save your favourite restaurants in a separate section. If you are unsure of a place, you can see what percentage of buyers rated their bag above 3 stars and can see what people liked about the place. Including their rating for the quality of food and friendliness of staff.
I had a video call meeting until 1:30pm and noticed a nearby hotel had a collection from 2pm-4pm, so it would be ready to collect on my walk home. My magic bag from City Space, Borough, was £3.29. I felt like that was a reasonable risk to take. If I didn’t like it, I had only lost a couple of pounds and would know not to order from there again. I ended up arriving a few minutes early but the staff were clearly expecting me and quickly fixed the bag for me. I was even offered the choice between chicken and a vegetarian option.
In my bag I received a massive greek salad, with feta, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, cucumber, lettuce and hummus. It even had a chargrilled vegetarian kebab topping it. Then I was given a side of pita bread and a salsa like dip. I personally, am not a huge salad girl. So I stuck my salad inside a sandwich when I got home. It ended up being two days lunch. For £3.29 that’s not bad at all. Although the food was not my favourite, it was still great quality and made me eager to try the app again.
Two of my housemates, inspired by my order, gave it a go the next day. Their first magic bags, for Costa Coffee, were suddenly cancelled just before collection. Apparently they had no food waste left that day. Though frustrating, they were given plenty of notice by notification and weren’t charged for the order. Instead, they tried again, ordering from a Bermondsey Deli called The Watch House. Their bags were £3.59 and they both received three sandwiches and a pastry each. They definitely got their money’s worth and would both agree that they’d order again.
After comparing these two different experiences I have compiled a list of pros and cons of Too Good To Go.
Undoubtedly the main advantage of the app is that it helps combat food waste and offers a more sustainable option for lunch for you and a more sustainable practice for the business. Additionally, you can get food from restaurants and cafes you already know you like for less. Or it allows you to try new places at a lower cost, so you have less to lose if it’s not for you. It’s also worth mentioning that the app itself is incredibly easy to use and it makes it clear what your journey/ experience will be like when you go to collect your magic bag.
On the other hand, it can be risky not knowing what’s in the bag until you collect. If you’re a picky eater, this may not be the app for you. Not to mention, the contents is based on what doesn’t sell that day so the contents will vary each time even if you return to the same location. Being in central London, this has not been an issue for me, but some areas will have only a few participating restaurants. I hope that as the app gains attention, more independent cafes and restaurants will get on board. As of now, Too Good To Go operates in 14 European countries and as of this year has plans to expand to the US.
Overall, I love the concept and urge everyone to at least download it and see what’s out there! I can definitely see myself using this more as an alternative to ordering from UberEats or Deliveroo, for a cheaper takeout when I don’t feel up to cooking. Let me know in the comments if you can see yourself trying this app out.
Disclaimer – This post is not sponsored.