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Reducing Food Waste With Too Good To Go: A Magic Bag Experience

Reducing Food Waste with Too Good To Go: A Magic Bag Experience

Too Good To Go: Tackling Food Waste, One Bag At A time

Food waste is a significant issue for the planet, and the food industry generates tonnes of edible food that goes to landfill every day. Too Good To Go is a free app designed to help tackle this problem by offering consumers the chance to grab leftover food from local businesses at a discounted price. In this blog post, we explore how the app works and share our 'Magic Bag' experience. We'll also discuss how the app is helping to solve the issue of food waste, food poverty, and business profitability. Keep reading to learn more about this innovative app and how it can make a big impact on the planet and local communities.

The issue of food waste and excess food within the food industry, no matter if that's grocery stores, local restaurants or coffee shops, is a major concern. Take away the tonnes of edible food going to landfill and use those unsold items to feed local people, and you help solve food waste, food poverty and also business profitability, and that can make a big impact on so many people and of course, the planet!

How does it work?

Local businesses offer their unsold food at a reduced price in order to save on throwing out the food that hasn't sold at the end of the day. The food is reduced to an average of a third of the normal cost and added to the app. You then place an order via the app, pay, and then go and collect the goods from the local stores at a specified time.

The bags you collect from the store is called a 'Magic Bag'. These bags of food could contain anything; you won't know in advance what you'll get, it's a surprise! Why is it a surprise, you ask; well, this is because the stores keep track of sell-by dates of the products they sell and will try and use those items up before the expiration dates become an issue, but if they have too much food to use, they will then add this extra food to the bag for app users to collect and use.

The local food businesses won't necessarily know what's left over till they make the bags up, which is often just before your collection time, so they can't advise in advance as to what you will receive. This can be exciting but also a problem for people getting a bag to plan meals, because, quite simply, you can't!

The food will normally be very short-dated, often for the same day, and so you need to think ahead a little and think through what you might get and how you store/use the items, should they be date sensitive.

So as an example, if you get a load of meat from a store, you might look to freeze it or perhaps cook it up for eating that day, perhaps cooking it and then freeze it for another time. If, however, you ended up with a bag of sandwiches dated that day, what would you do with them? Most of the time, it's a selection of items received, so the sandwich example is less likely, but still worth keeping in the back of your mind, but I've collected bags of sandwiches before (some of which I could freeze), and that's a bit of a disappointment, I would have much rather received bags of fresh fruit or general grocery produce, but that's what the anti-food waste app is all about, you stop food being wasted, and hopefully can produce delicious meals from it, but that's never guaranteed!

I've seen many a social media post from people who've not got what they were hoping for and having a little rant, but they are quickly shot down by the community of waste warriors and reminded that they need to remember that the app is there to help solve the food waste problem of tonnes of food waste going into bins unnecessarily, and it cant be expected to be an alternative to a weekly food, it's just a way to grab surprise bags of still good food and a great way to reduce food waste.

The service has really gained in popularity over the last year or so, with more and more local businesses signing up to offer the local community a chance to grab a great deal, with big brands such as Costa, Lidl, Spar, Morrisons, Nisa and many smaller retailers and restaurants getting involved.

My 'Magic Bag Experience'

I grabbed a "Magic Bag' some months ago from a convenience store and wasn't massively impressed as the savings based on the RRP weren't that good, and although I did get a selection of items, they were all a bit random, and sadly a fair bit went in the bin, as I couldn't find a way to make use of them.

I've used the app several times since then and had reasonably good experiences, and when I saw a bag available from local Sainsbury's convenience store, I decide to give it a whirl!

My hope for this bag, as it was coming from Sainsbury's, who have quality goods, and a wide selection, was pretty positive, although as this location is pretty much a motorway service station, I did run the risk of a bag of sandwiches, which was a worry, but I'm pleased to say that's not what I got!

I paid for my bag via the app, via PayPal, and the app advised me that I could go and collect it between 7 pm and 9 pm, and I went and grabbed it at around 7.30 pm. I went to the cash desk and told them I had a Too Good To Go order to collect, I gave the cashier the reference number for the order, and he popped out the back and grabbed my bag for me. The whole process was very simple and streamlined.

My first impression was a good one! The bag felt heavy, clearly not sandwiches, and it was pretty bulky, which was quite exciting. I took my daughter with me, and once I was fleeced out of a Starbucks (Located next door), hot chocolate by her, and I grabbed a festive 'Gingerbread Latte, ( Ok so the cost of the coffee clearly wiped out any savings we made on the 'Magic Bag', but this was just an experiment, and it was nice to spend some time with my daughter), we headed home to check out our haul!

This is what I got. I paid £4.00 for the bag, and I got about £12.00 worth of food. I received:

This is what I got! I paid £4.00 for the bag, and I got about £12.00 worth of food

3x Packs of raspberries

1x 2 pack of Bramley apple crumbles

1x Bunch of spring onions

1x Pack of 4 beef burgers

1x Tub of salsa

1x Pack of Petit Filous

2x Packs of wafer-thin chicken

1x Jumbo swiss roll

All in all a pretty decent selection of products. Everything was dated for the same day; many had yellow stickers stuck on the products, so were items that went to clearance and hadn't sold, and so were placed in the bags. That's fair enough; after all, that's the idea of the service, to avoid food waste, and normally if they hadn't sold, they would have been thrown away, so by my buying this bag, food waste has been reduced! Job done!

The food items were fine and in an edible condition. Everything apart from the salsa, spring onions and swiss roll went in the freezer for use at a later date. The onions and salsa aren't freezable, so they went in the fridge; but if I'm honest, I the salsa wasn't used, which is a shame, and eats into the value of the bag and is against the principle of avoiding food waste, but I did use everything else up, so all in all, that's a positive result.

I was pretty happy with my haul; it's a decent amount and reasonable quality of goods. I think that I got my £12 worth of goods for my £4, Would I buy it again? Maybe, is the answer!

If you follow my blog or have read any of my previous posts, you will know that my favourite mission in life is grabbing yellow sticker bargains, and I think that that will remain my way to try and save food from waste as well as grab a bargain. The reason for this is two -fold:

  1. Yellow sticker deals are, on the whole, a bit cheaper than the reductions I got on this bag.

  2. Most importantly for me, yellow sticker items give me the flexibility to buy exactly what I want/need rather than taking a gamble on what you are going to get in a bag! The surprise bags feel like an episode of the TV show, 'Ready, Steady, Cook', where you get a bag of ingredients and have to devise a meal from what you are given, and much as I enjoyed that show, it can be harder to play that game with a pack of apple crumbles and a bunch of spring onions!

That said, I do think this is an easy way to grab a deal; what you get will depend on the company you are getting the food from; after all, I got my bag from a convenience store, but with so many restaurants on the app, chances are you could be grabbing a slap-up meal for your money.

My daughter uses the app more than I do these days, she lives with her boyfriend and is located close to several restaurants who are on the Too Good To Go App, so she's often grabbing a late meal from one of the restaurants, and some of them know her now and give her some free extras, or let her go to the buffet and choose whats she wants, and she loves it, so if it's definitely an app for all ages!

Check out Olio for a different spin on food waste apps, and food waste reduction.

It's free to download the Too Good To Go app, and you can download it directly from the Too Good To Go website or from the app store.

Too Good To Go


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