With the enormous portion sizes at today’s restaurants, there’s a good chance you’ll have leftovers at the end of the meal. The best thing to do is to take them home to microwave and enjoy the next day. Not only does this ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth, but it also means that your uneaten food won’t be thrown into a garbage can.
Unfortunately, not all restaurant leftovers avoid the trash can.
Every year full-service and limited-service restaurants in the United States discard an estimated 22 to 33 billion pounds of uneaten food. This food waste ends up in landfills. The waste releases methane as it decomposes, which contributes to global warming.
While not much can be done for the food left on a customers’ plate, the food behind the counter can still be saved.
Available on both the App Store and Google Play, Too Good to Go pairs its users with local restaurants in the fight against food waste. Restaurants list “surprise bags” full of unsold leftover food on the app. Users can buy these bags at a discounted price, between $3.99 and $5.99. Similar to food delivery apps, participating restaurants can be found based on food category and dietary restrictions. After purchasing a meal, users have to pick it up within the given time frame.
For college students on a budget, the European-based app made its U.S. debut in New York City late last September. Since then, it has partnered up with hundreds of restaurants, cafes and grocery stores around the city — some of which include The Bean, The Kati Roll Company, Auntie Anne’s and Orchard Grocer.
“[Restaurants] will fill up a bag [of food] for you for like $5,” Tisch senior and Too Good to Go user Makena McElroy said. “I’m probably spending less money on takeout because if I want takeout I’ll just [use the app instead].”
Since she downloaded the app a month ago, McElroy ordered from Too Good To Go on 10 occasions. Her purchases range from bagels and pizza to Cuban food from Mi Salsa Kitchen. Were it not for the app, the food McElroy purchased would be part of the 40% of produced foods wasted in the U.S. each year.
“I like to think about being environmentally conscious and food waste is important to me, so that’s what I like [about the app],” said McElroy.
For those who are not as familiar with the app or have not given much thought to sustainability, Too Good To Go also informs users on the issue of food waste.
“[Sustainability is] something that I still don’t know that much about,” Steinhardt first-year Ebun Adebonojo saiid. She discovered the app through TikTok. “The app is helping me learn more [about] the easier ways to try and promote sustainability.”
In addition to its low prices and educational resources, Adebonojo enjoys Too Good To Go’s wide range of pick-up times, which makes getting late-night meals so much easier.
“One time, I [used the app] when I was at the library and the dining halls were closed,” said Adebonojo. “So I just quickly ordered from [it] and I got to go pick [the food] up before I went back to my dorm. [The app] is really convenient for later at night when the dining halls are closed and you still are hungry.”
Like Adebonojo, Stern first-year Sooyeon Eun also finds the app incredibly useful, mostly because a lot of restaurants are easily accessible from the NYU area.
“[The app] is pretty convenient,” said Eun. “You can adjust [the location], so it’s pretty easy [to travel to restaurants]. Especially because I can get anywhere here walking, so it’s great.”
Eun takes advantage of this convenience by ordering from local bakeries and coffee shops, including La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Breads Bakery and Brooklyn Bean Roastery.
“I think the first time [I ordered I got] a big loaf of bread, and then a sandwich,” Eun said. “The second time, I … got some muffins and a cookie, and then a croissant and a muffin.”
Too Good To Go strives to create a more sustainable planet by reducing food waste. It has also made obtaining affordable foods easier for busy college students on a budget and allows them to both enjoy a delicious meal at a low price and adopt more eco-friendly habits — it’s a win-win situation.
“I did work in fast food before, so I know how much food is thrown away,” Eun said. “It gives me peace of mind to see that there is an app trying to solve this.”
Email Natalie Melendez at [email protected]