Food & Drink

Don’t worry, be ‘appy: how to save food waste with your phone

17 MAR 20 | 4 minute read

There are now a number of apps that have been designed to help us reduce our food waste.

Bought too much? OLIO allows users to give their extra food to someone else for free. Want to keep a track of when your food will go off? Kitche will help you do just that. Sophie in our press team tried out another of them, Too Good to Go, and reported back....

As someone who spends more on going out to eat than they probably should, I was intrigued when I first heard of Too Good to Go.

The app promises to turn you into a food waste saving hero by rescuing surplus meals, called ‘magic bags’, from nearby restaurants, cafés, supermarkets and hotels at a discounted price.

I downloaded the app and kept checking it to see what was on offer, just waiting for a perfect opportunity.

The equivalent of 1 in 6 meals worth of food is being thrown away by food service outlets in the UK.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

The Too Good to Go app has teamed up with restaurants offering takeaway options during this challenging time. All they ask is that you comply with social distancing by swiping your order yourself when you collect your Magic Bag.

Getting the timing in the bag

Luckily, there are a number of places signed up to the app nearby where I live in Glasgow. The pick-up times vary as their kitchen will wait until service is done.

Hotels seem to let you pick up breakfast items nearer lunchtime, cafe food is usually available in the late afternoon or dinnertime and restaurants tend to be even later, around 10 or 11pm.
Still, this means you can be flexible, plus the app lets you filter by the times you’re free. One Sunday morning, I bought a 'magic bag' from The Hidden Lane Tearoom in Glasgow. You have to be quick as only a limited number are available each day.

The bag cost me £4 and the specific contents were a mystery. The app does give you a hint, so you do have a general idea. My ‘magic bag’ was likely to contain sandwiches, soups and pastries.

So, at 6pm, I went over to the cafe to pick up my food. I was handed around six sandwiches by a friendly waitress who seemed to know the drill. One was filled with cheddar and apple and ale chutney, another with salad leaves, brie and egg.

My order also came with five scones, that I generously shared with my flatmate, and pea and mint soup. I'm not sure how much money I saved, but it was certainly a bargain.

The food did for that evening and the next day, and the scones even lasted for days afterwards.

Server handing over Too Good to Go bag

A ‘pizza’ the action

I was so impressed with the amount of food that came in my magic bag for the price, and it was not long until I tried it again. This time, I had a craving for Pizza Punks.

This pick-up time was later, at around 10pm. They had already shut for the day, so I had to hold my phone up to the door with the app open to prove I wasn’t a confused customer.

The staff were happy to take a minute out of cleaning up to let me in and give me the option of a medium-sized pepperoni or margherita pizza. I chose the pepperoni and went back on my way.

While my dinner that day was later than usual, it only cost me around £3.89 and I was happy to hold off for such a bargain.

Now, I hear you ask, was the pizza up to their usual high standards? Yes, yes it was. It was very tasty, and not just because it was less than half the normal price. It needed a little bit of reheating when I was back in the flat, yet the whole experience wasn’t that different to collecting a takeaway.

Sometimes you might get lucky and end up with lots of surplus food so see if a friend wants to share the ‘magic bag’ or pop any extra bits in the freezer.

Final thoughts...

I’d say that a bit of planning wouldn’t go a miss when using this app. Some places sell out of food for the same day and the next by the mid-morning so check it out first thing to catch those deals.

Sometimes you might get lucky and end up with lots of surplus food so see if a friend wants to share the ‘magic bag’ or pop any extra bits in the freezer.

Apps like these are important as the amount of food that could have been eaten but is being thrown away by food service outlets in the UK is equivalent to 1 in 6 meals.

Not only will your bank account thank you for using Too Good to Go, mine certainly did, but the planet will benefit as well.