We look at the pros and cons of the the popular food waste app.
Too Good To Go is a clever way to prevent food waste but is it good value for money or are you paying for food you end up wasting? We’ll tell you all about this discounted food app and give you tips and tricks to find the best deals.
What is Too Good To Go?
Too Good To Go is an app that helps you find leftover food from shops and restaurants that you can buy for a very reduced price rather than letting it go to waste.
What do you get from Too Good To Go?
Ultimately you won’t know until you open your bag. Surplus food will vary from each establishment, and even with the same shop it will change with each order on a daily basis.
What you receive depends on what is left over at the end of the day, but the app does tell you what you can expect to receive as a guide.
The price reflects the uncertainty of the contents, so you’re getting a saving regardless of what you actually get. The important takeaway is to not count on the contents of your surprise bag being a particular thing and just take it as it comes.
That said, there have been some reports of some retailers filling a box with products over a month past their best before date, but I’ve not personally experienced anything like this and if you do receive food that is not edible, you can request a refund from Too Good To Go.
And if you are disappointed with your surprise bag, fill in the retailer review, so other users can see which establishments to avoid.
And don’t set your hopes too high. Our editor Andy once grabbed a surprise bag from a health food shop, hoping for a healthy treat, but ended up with a bag full of vegan cheese and sauerkraut!
If you want to find out more about what individuals are getting in their bags, there are lots of social media groups where photos are posted – and it goes without saying, there are some comedy ones!
Check out this one – a £3.60 surprise bag from Aldi!
Got a £3.30 too good to go bag from Aldi. I could not have expected this 😂🤣 pic.twitter.com/mWzfHA3fGt— Blair (@Blxir) January 10, 2024
What businesses are on Too Good To Go?
New establishments are appearing on the Too Good To Go app regularly and you can find so many of your favourite shops and eateries on there.
Shops include Aldi, Morrisons, Co-op, Budgens, Londis, Nisa and even bp M&S. Restaurants and cafes on the app include Carluccios, Greggs, Pizza Express, Fireaway, Costa, Starbucks, Pret, Cafe Nero, Yo Sushi, Harvester, Toby Carvery and so many more.
Plus you’ll find lots of independent cafes, restaurants, bakeries and delis so there is something for everyone.
More and more food outlets at stations, airports and petrol forecourts are popping up on the app. Our editor Andy managed to pick up an M&S TooGoodToGo surprise bag at the station before boarding a train and our writer Zoe even managed to pick up a surprise bag at a station in France.
Overall, you’ll have a much better choice in large towns and cities. Smaller places and villages might not have any retailers listed – and when they do, you could have some competition.
How much does Too Good To Go cost?
The price will vary depending on the retailer, though there’s always a decent discount. For example, a surprise bag from Morrisons is £3.09 but will contain at least £10 worth of product.
You may find the price of some surprise bags drops as the collection time approaches. Too Good To Go’s press office has confirmed that a small number of establishments are offering dynamic pricing.
They told us that occasionally, the Too Good To Go app will dynamically adjust the discount level on surprise bags based on in-app behaviour, with the goal of reducing food waste even further.
Currently this is only live on a small, select number of surprise bags, highlighted with a dynamic price tag, where the price may gradually decrease throughout the day to prevent food from going to waste. So keep an eye out for the dynamic price tag, as you could end up getting one of these surprise bags for a quarter of the original price.
How does Too Good To Go work?
You’ll need the app to use Too Good To Go. You’ll see any retailers offering bags, along with the price you’re paying and its estimated worth.
If they have anything to offer, an establishment will list a specific collection slot. For example,you have to collect a surprise bag from my local Starbucks between 4.30 and 5.30 pm, but at my local Pizza Express it needs to be collected between 10 and 10.45pm – great for night owls, but not for anyone wanting to eat at a normal time!
Most slots on the app will be for the day before collection, but you’ll find many for the same day. Some places will have multiple listings for particular meal times.
When it’s time to collect, just turn up at the shop or restaurant, scan or show your purchase code. Some establishments will need to cook or pack your food once you arrive to collect your order but others will have your surprise bag ready and waiting for you to take it away.
You can set a location and choose the distance you would like to cover – up to 30 km. You can even use the app abroad in countries where it is available. If you’re going away or travelling, you can look for surprise bags on your route or at your destination, by changing your location.
Too Good To Go hacks
Once you’ve got the hang of it, these tips can help you not only get those in-demand bags, but also make sure you’re not disappointed.
The best time to use Too Good To Go
Some surprise bags are popular and will sell out as soon as they are added to the app so you need to get savvy and find the usual time they are added if you want to nab a bargain.
Each individual establishment will differ but in my experience, they all have a preferred time when they like to add their offerings to the app. For example, I know my local Morrisons likes to put their surprise bags up for sale around 6pm the evening before collection.
If you click on ‘sold out’ offerings it will actually tell you what time the surprise bag sold out and will also tell you when to check back again. This is the time when the retailer usually uploads their offering, so if you are after a popular one, then that is the time to check!
Pick retailers with good reviews
Each retailer has a score based on customer reviews which you can use to decide if a surprise bag is worth getting from a particular retailer. For example, you can look at these reviews before you purchase to see if a bag is good value for money or if it’s a generous bag.
It would be great if individual comments were recorded rather than set ones like ‘great value’ and ‘friendly staff’ as the review would be a little more factual, but they’re a help nonetheless.
Check what’s likely to be in the bag
This is easier said than done when the bags are a surprise, but the app does tell you what to expect in each bag and some are obvious just from their name.
Let’s take a Gregg’s surprise bag as an example. The description on the app states that it can contain a mixture of sandwiches, bakes and sweet treats and you’ll get at least £8 worth of products for just £2.59.
From that description, and speaking from experience, there’ll be lots of leftover sandwiches and a few cakes. Perfect for a family treat but if you’re ordering for one, then the sandwiches won’t keep, they are not really suitable for freezing and there’ll likely be too many for one person to consume. So there may well be some food waste, which defeats the purpose of the app.
Now a Pizza Express bag on the other hand would be perfect for one person. The app states that you’ll get £14.95 worth of food for £4.95 and will contain either one main course or three starters or desserts. So with this surprise bag there’s unlikely to be any food waste.
And if you’re ordering a surprise bag from a retailer such as Morrisons or Co-op then make sure you have room in your freezer in advance, so any food you’re not likely to consume straight away, can be frozen.
Ask a friend to pick up your surprise bag
If you’ve nabbed the perfect surprise bag but won’t be available to collect it due to the short collection window, there’s now an option on the app to ask a friend to pick it up.
Listen to Cash Chats, our award-winning podcast, presented by Editor-in-chief Andy Webb.
Episodes every Tuesday.
Pros and cons of Too Good To Go
- You can pick up meals and supplies for less than full price
- Easy to use app with plenty of information to help you decide
- Helps to reduce food waste
- Can be great value for money
- Get to try foods you may not usually pick
- Don’t know what you’re getting so bags could include something you don’t like
- Not all surprise bags are equal – you could end up with a poor bag
- Could end up with food wasted if you don’t like it or can’t use it before it goes off
- Sometimes get lots of the same product
- Difficult to plan meal times when you don’t know what you’re going to get
- Limited collection time for most surprise bags
- Can be hard to get in smaller towns and villages
Summary: is a surprise bag from Too Good To Go value for money?
I’m a fan of the Too Good To Go app and probably use it to order once every few months. For me it’s to order a treat and the element of surprise is a lot of fun.
I’ve used it for coffee shops where the bag contained a selection of sandwiches, pastries and even the odd slice of cake and I’ve also ordered from Morrisons on several occasions but have only ever had fruit and veg, but still a box full and all fit to use.
When you are getting surprise bags with at least £10 worth or items for £2.59 for example, or £12 worth of groceries for £4, you just can’t argue with the value.
However, it is trial and error to find surprise bags that give you just what you need, and you might end up getting things you don’t like or can’t use up in time or can’t freeze.
If that happens you’re wasting rather than saving money, so if you’re not sure what you’ll get, you might be better off paying full price for something you know you’ll definitely want and use.
Let’s put it to the test
For a midweek dinner treat, I ordered 2 surprise bags from Greggs for £2.59 each, with each bag containing at least £8 worth of items. And Greggs did not disappoint. Here’s what I got in the two bags:
- Two cheese and ham baguettes
- Chicken and bacon baguette
- Tuna baguette
- Cheese and onion bake
- Vegetable bake
- Sausage and bean bake
- Chicken bake
- Two doughnuts
- Two yum yums
- Two cookies
- Gingerbread man
- Fairy cake
Full price value is £30.55 (prices taken from therestaurantplanet.com), yet I paid just £5.18. The two bags fed a family of five with leftovers for the following days’ lunch too. The products were all fresh and the variety was spot on.