I’ve been testing out the Too Good To Go app over the last couple of weeks.
The app is designed to fight food waste by helping restaurants, supermarkets, cafes and more sell their surplus food and drink.
What Too Good To Go is all about
The idea is that food businesses list their surplus food and drink items on the app with a designated collection time.
Users can reserve one of these “Magic Bags” and then pick it up at the designated time by showing the code in the app.
These Magic Bags cost a fraction of what you would normally pay for the contents and can include everything from leftover pastry and cooked meals to groceries and even alcohol.
There are quite a few chains on there, like Greggs, Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee and Pret, but you’ll also get supermarkets like Spar, CostCutter and Nisa Local, as well as independent restaurants and cafes.
That’s just what’s around me, but obviously it does vary enormously depending on where you are located. And the bigger the city, the more options and availability there are.
How does the Too Good To Go app work?
Once you’ve downloaded Too Good To Go, you just have to plug in the location and distance to see what outlets are around you.
Each outlet will show you how many Magic Bags are available, what you might get inside, how much it’s for vs actual value of the products and when you can collect.
Because of the nature of surplus goods, you don’t know what you’ll actually get until you turn up to collect.
If there’s a Magic Bag you like the sound of, you reserve it, pay for it on the app, and then go collect it during the designated collection window.
Some have collection windows throughout the day, but some are late into the night near closing time.
What do you get in the Magic Bags?
I’ve just been hitting up bakeries – mainly because the timings worked better for me – and so far, so good.
It’s food that you’ll want to eat right away though, or freeze, rather than have languishing in the bottom of your fridge for a week.
To give you an idea of what’s inside, here’s a list of my haul from a few different places:
B Bagel Bakery Bar
- I paid: £2.80
- What it’s meant to be worth: £8.40
This was my first try and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and, confusingly, they didn’t have the Magic Bag packed and ready to go.
Instead, I was handed one of their paper bags and told to pick anything I wanted out of the bagels and pastries available, up to the value of £9.
So for £2.80, I ended up with:
- A cream cheese sesame bagel
- Two pain au chocolat
- Two croissants
- I paid: £2.59
- What it’s meant to be worth: £8
The Magic Bag at Greggs was prepped and ready to go when I got there, which made collection super easy and far less awkward.
For £2.59, I got:
- A ham and cheese baguette
- Two triple chocolate muffins
- Two Belgian buns
- I paid: £4.30
- What it’s meant to be worth: £13
It was quite weird to walk into a sit down restaurant and essentially get a to-go bag. The Magic Bag wasn’t packed and ready, but the staff were able to put it together quickly.
This £4.30 bundle contained:
- Chucs green juice
- Chucs apple juice
- Porchetta and salsa verde sandwich
- Pain au chocolat
- Almond croissant
- I paid: £3
- What it’s meant to be worth: £9
Bread Ahead had their Magic Bags lined up and ready to go despite the fact that they were very busy and had a long queue out of the door. Very impressed.
My Magic Bag included:
- Ginger cake
- Two demi brioche buns
- Doughnut ring
- Wholemeal sourdough loaf
Are the Magic Bags worth the money?
I’ve used Too Good To Go a lot over the last few weeks and the experiences have been varied.
Most of the places I went to had their Magic Bags ready to go so it was a straight forward collection.
In terms of value for money, it varied a lot from place to place and even on different visits to the same place – but that’s the nature of these Magic Bags.
Overall, yes they were good value for money. You’ll certainly get things at a huge discount compared to retail price, although it might still be more expensive than getting them at the supermarket.
The only downside is that there is no choice, so you might end up with something you wouldn’t normally eat or dislike.