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Do you look back in horror at your Seamless and Grubhub receipts, wondering how exactly your grilled cheese sandwich cost you $43.50? Then we’ve got good news: there’s a new, sustainably-minded app that can help you both reduce food waste and bulk up your wallet. 

This food was too good to go to waste — so we used app Too Good To Go to put together a $15 feast from three Hell’s Kitchens shops and cafes. Photo: Naty Caez

Now live in New York, Too Good To Go partners with local restaurants and grocery stores to put together daily takeaway bags of surplus food, available to consumers for just a few dollars. So we put it to the test – and got quite the bargain.

On Tuesday W42ST’s Naty Caez took her chances with Too Good To Go. By picking up from Afficionado Coffee, Fruitstand43 and Pick-A-Bagel, she took home a $15 haul of fruit, vegetables, pastries and over a dozen bagels, which the app estimates would have cost at least $42. The only waste: one rotting plum.

This was Naty Caez’s $3.99 (plus tax) haul from Fruitstand43 at W43rd Street and 9th Avenue: Eight orange peppers, four mangoes, three tangerines, two peaches and two plums. Too Good To Go estimates the food which would have gone to waste otherwise is worth $12. Photo: Naty Caez

The app works by letting users browse what’s on offer in their area, reserve the bags and pay for them on their phone before picking up their surprise package. Too Good To Go provides an estimate of the minimum full price each bag would have cost, and a rough indication of its contents.

While you can’t select items from a menu a lá Seamless, the app gives you a general idea of what’s inside your “magic bag.” And it guarantees to come in a lot cheaper, with most bags costing from $2.99 to $5.99, plus tax. The aim is to cut food waste and give shops, cafes and restaurants an economic incentive to do so.

And this was what $3.99 at Afficionado Coffee on 11th Avenue at W53rd Street brought home: Two plain croissants, two pains au chocolat, one almond croissant and one sesame loaf. Too Good To Go estimates the bag was worth at least $12. Photo: Naty Caez.

For the Hell’s Kitchen foodie, there are several local favorites already on the app. As well as W42ST’s destinations, they include Amy’s Bread, the Amish Market, Queen of Sheba, and Romeo and Juliet. Also taking part: Colombian Coffee, Rancho Taqueria, Bao Bao Café, Sergimmo Salumeria, Bibble & Sip, Bird & Branch, Café 424, Sacco Pizza, Taco Mahal and Kashkaval Garden as well as popular chains like Le Pain Quotidien, Juice Press and Just Salad. 

And for $5.99 Pick-A-Bagel delivered this massive bagel bag with 14 bagels, including plain, pumpernickel, egg, everything, salt, poppyseed, and sesame, completing W42ST’s $15 feast. Photo: Naty Caez

“We began partnering with Too Good To Go during the pandemic. We have had such an incredible response from app users,” said Paul Miller-Gealone of Amy’s Bread. “When there are left over items, we can place the number of bags we have available on the app, and they’re all purchased within minutes. It’s a great way to bring in a little revenue on items that would have otherwise been unsold.”

In addition to saving New Yorkers some serious change, the team at Too Good To Go collaborates with schools and local governments to rework food systems and reduce waste. According to a study from the company, “up to 40 percent of all food produced in the US is currently wasted” — with 63 million tons of food sent to landfill each year and 40 percent of food waste at the retail or consumer level. 

“New York has embraced our simple solution for saving surplus food. In just two years since launching in New York City, New Yorkers and our local food business partners have saved over 1.6 million surprise bags from going to waste,” said Chris MacAulay, US Country Manager at Too Good To Go. “We’re so honored to partner with great local establishments like Breads Bakery, Eataly and Murray’s Cheese, and we’re beyond excited to continue to grow the app’s footprint and impact in NYC at scale.”

After launching in major cities across Europe, Too Good to Go is now live in New York, Boston, Austin, Chicago, DC, Portland (Maine and Washington), Seattle, San Francisco and Baltimore and has partnered with over 175,000 stores. The app sustains itself by pocketing a small percentage of each sale and charging partners an $89 yearly fee, providing restaurants and stores with a relatively affordable way to manage surplus product and avoid newly re-activated city fines for improperly processed food

Among the Hell’s Kitchen cafes and restaurants taking part is Afficionado Coffee on 11th Avenue and W53rd St, where bags for Too Good To Go are left on the counter for pickup. Photo: Naty Caez

And for some users, the thrill extends beyond just saving money – one frequent customer referred to the goodie grab-bag element of the app as “Halloween trick-or-treating for adults” to the New York Times. There’s even a Too Good to Go subreddit dedicated to sharing especially lucky finds. 

So the next time you find yourself simply out of ideas for dinner, you can always spin the wheel of takeout fortune and try your luck on a local meal that will only set you back the cost of a latte!

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4 Comments

  1. I started using too good to go a few weeks ago! Glad they expanded into NYC, we have so many restaurants and groceries in hells kitchen (Manhattan in general) 🙂 hope we do see a reduction in food waste, and ppl find some good deals! I like the mystery bag haha, not quite sure what you will get

  2. I went to Romeo and Juliet Colombian Cafe for Too Good to Go and they didn’t let me in to the restaurant, even though I’d paid already and went during pickup time. not sure if they fixed this issue but beware if you do buy from them. I did get my money back, though.

  3. I’ve been using Too Good To Go for over a year now in SOHO, Tribeca and Chinatown. It has fantastic deals and the grocery store bags are especially great. These bags usually contain about $30 worth of items! Glad to see they are expanding….

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