Have you ever wondered how restaurants decide how much food to buy? Like, what if one day, all the diners want the salmon, but the next week they’re all about beef? Will there be a lot of perfectly good, but unused salmon in their fridge? Sometimes!
Though we tend to think about food waste on an individual or household basis, it’s an issue at restaurants (and grocery stores, bakeries, farms, etc) as well. And that’s where a new app called Too Good To Go comes in, selling these perfectly good but perishable food items directly to consumers at deeply discounted prices. Here’s what to know.
The idea behind the app is to connect customers (like us) with local restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores that happen to have surplus foods, meals and ingredients—reducing both food waste and our grocery bill in the process. Too Good to Go started in Copenhagen in 2016 and is now up and running in 15 countries. So far in the United States, it’s only available in New York City and Boston, though Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia are likely to be next.
If you live in New York or Boston and want to try it out, start by downloading the app from your usual app purveyor (it’s free), enter your email address to register, and then either provide a physical address or give the app access to your location. From there, you’ll get a list of available food in your area, listed by establishment and providing information on what is available, how much it costs, and how many units are left for the day (they tend to sell out quickly).
So, for example, earlier today, a Murray’s Cheese location near me was offering a surprise “dairy bag” for $3.99—which is very reasonable for their products. (It has since sold out.) There’s also a surprise meal at a local Mexican restaurant for $4.99 that typically goes for $15.
And that’s the other thing: most of the time, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get in the surprise bags or with the surprise meals—so if you have a food allergy, this may not be the best option for you. (Or just call the restaurant to find out what’s available that day.)
Also, you have to physically go to the establishment to pick up the food yourself, and often need to bring your own bag. But that’s a small price to pay for getting delicious and affordable surprise food.