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The app that can shrink your shopping bill, and 16 other ways to cut down on food waste

Pricewatch: With the surplus food app Too Good To Go you can eat for a fraction of the usual cost

Food waste statistics

If you were told you could get a few pre-packaged sandwiches, some fresh fruit, a whole chicken, a couple of ready meals and a lot of bread for less than €4 you’d probably be sceptical, right?

But instead of being too good to be true, it might in fact be true thanks to Too Good To Go.

That’s the name of a food app set up eight years ago that styles itself as the “world’s largest marketplace for surplus food”. Operating in Ireland since 2021, it allows users to “rescue unsold food from retailers and restaurants so that it doesn’t go to waste” – at a fraction of what it might otherwise cost.

The notion is pleasingly simple. You sign up, look for participating businesses in your area, choose what you want – with the caveat that what you are choosing is a surprise – pay your money, and then go to the shop or restaurant at an agreed time to collect it.


Among the more high-profile businesses on the platform is Aldi, and for €3.99 you might be able to get a “surprise bag” from the German discounter that is likely to contain multiple items on the cusp of passing their use-by or best-before date.

That means you will need to get it home and either cook, freeze or eat it fairly rapidly.

Among the most popular food apps in the world, it now has a presence in 17 countries and has stopped more than 240 million meals going to waste, avoiding about 600,000 tonnes of CO² from being emitted into the atmosphere.

It has “rescued” half a million meals from bins around Ireland since it started its operation here just under two years ago, and 1,600 Irish partners include Fresh, KC Peaches, SuperValu, Café Nero, Off Beat Donut Co and other local independent restaurants and shops around the country. There are currently 390,000 registered users in Ireland.

Trust Pilot has hundreds of reviews of the service and it has an average rating of 3.4 out of 5, with more than half of those who have used it giving it a five-star rating. A further one in four give it only one star, with most of the criticism focusing on the disappointing variety in the “surprise bags” and the freshness of the food on offer.

While it is a for-profit enterprise, its co-founder Jamie Crummie says he was motivated to set up the business for more altruistic reasons than cold hard cash.

Speaking to Pricewatch on a visit to Dublin, he points out that as much as 40 per cent of the food produced is binned, while 10 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions are generated by food waste. If food waste were a country, it would be the third worst polluter on the planet, behind the US and China.

“I’ve often had people assume that it must be students who are using the app, but in fact we have a really diverse consumer base – whether it’s people who are using it because they’ve been really impacted by the cost-of-living crisis themselves and it becomes a way in which they can access food at a more affordable price, or those who are driven by sustainability and by issues of climate change,” he says.

Crummie is all about the sustainability piece and suggests that reducing food waste “is a very easy and effective way for people to do their bit when it comes to climate change”.

He notes that food waste has huge social and environmental consequences, and the “very notion that people are struggling to afford to put food on the table and at the same time we’re wasting food at the rate that we are – you know it really doesn’t add up or make sense”.

He’s not wrong there.

He was prompted to launch the app “to address food waste and not because we wanted to create a discount food platform – and our leading message is very much about empowering businesses and individuals to do like one small thing, which is saving food”.

We are a very strong mission-driven business, we dream of a planet of no food waste, and so that becomes our northern star and that’s what we’re chasing

—  Jamie Crummie, Too Good To Go

While consumers can benefit from deals found on the app, Crummie says businesses are “craving solutions which can help them recover some costs, attract new customers and ultimately do something which helps them with their ESG (environmental, social and governance) targets. The beauty is the surprise bag element, which means businesses do not have to itemise what the food is, it really is just whatever food is left over.

A doughnut shop might have mountains of doughnuts in the surprise bag – obviously enough – while a retailer is likely to have meats, ready meals and breads.

“We’ve developed a model which is very flexible. Previously, businesses were throwing all of this food away and now they’re able to recover some of those sunk costs, but also reduce their waste disposal costs as well. Food waste is the most expensive part of the waste disposal process because it’s heaviest.”

While it might work for businesses, does it really work for consumers? Cheap food is well and good, but cheap food that is about to pass its sell by date and that comes into your house late at night might be less attractive.

“If a customer was given food at 10pm and it had a use-by date of that day, we would be encouraging them to freeze it and use it another day. The surprise element is also quite fun and on our social channels what we see is people doing these unbagging videos – and it might be a bit of a ready-steady-cook moment where you’re thinking, you know, ‘What am I going to cook with this,’ and that in itself becomes, you know, something which is quite enjoyable.”

Repeatedly, however, he comes back to the environment. “We are a very strong mission-driven business, we dream of a planet of no food waste, and so that becomes our northern star and that’s what we’re chasing.”

A report from Goodbody published a couple of years ago suggested that Irish households were binning food worth about €60 each month. Our habits have not changed that much since that report was published, meaning that cumulatively Irish homes are throwing away about €1 billion worth of food every single year – a number so big that we had to check it over and over again.

If we say there are 1.5 million homes in Ireland, and each one bins an average of €60 worth of food each month, that comes to a total of €90 million, which multiplied by 12 months equates to €1.08 billion.

Not only are we wasting all that money, we are worsening the global climate crisis that is posing an existential threat to every single one of us.

Food is binned for all manner of reasons. It is thrown away because people buy more than they need or because they buy food they think they might eat but don’t get round to eating – we’re looking at you, lettuce.

Sometimes food is wasted because we have lost the run of our fridges and have no idea what is in it at any given moment, and then sometimes it goes in the bin for the simple reason that too much of it is put on our plates.

With that in mind, here are some tips to waste less food.

1. Eat before you shop. A hungry shopper is a stupid shopper – and Pricewatch knows this from bitter personal experience. When we shop on an empty stomach we make mistakes and buy more than we need. More specifically, we also buy more junk that will tempt us for the rest of the week.

2. Plan before you buy. Draw up a weekly menu plan outlining what you want to eat each day at home and at work. Cover all the meals and snacks. Be realistic, and allow for the possibility that you may want to order a takeaway on one day or eat in a restaurant or go out for a night, so don’t be a slave to the plan.

3. Cull that list. Do some research before you leave the house, or at the very least spend a couple of minutes going through your fridge and looking at what you have in your presses before drawing up a shopping list based on what you need as opposed to buying what you think you might need when in your local supermarket.

4. Bring a zen like calm to your kitchen. If you are really serious about cutting down on food waste you need your larder to be free from clutter. So, once every two months, carry out an audit of your dried food and your tinned goods and make a determined effort to live off that stuff for a week. Websites such as and BBC Food allow you to enter the ingredients you have at your disposal and will draw up a list of recipes for you based on these.

5. Be more mindful of what you throw away. When we talk about food waste we are not simply talking about the once-good food that has spoiled in your fridge, but also the peelings and scrapings that make their way to your bin when they might otherwise be used. Look at new ways of working with ingredients. For instance, you can make broccoli pesto using the stalks that might otherwise go uneaten. Will it be the best thing you have ever eaten? No, probably not, but it does come with a side order of smugness. What does taste great are potato skins, mind you. So instead of peeling them, bake them or chip them with the skins on. They’re better for you too.

6. Be wary of dodgy deals. Do not buy food that you know in your heart you don’t want or won’t use just because it is on special. Also avoid bulk-buying perishables. Three heads of lettuce for the price of two may look like great value, but it won’t look so clever when the soggy lettuce is in your bin staring up at you with sad and judgmental eyes.

7. Be more ruthless with your choices. Never take perishable items such as milk, yoghurt or butter from the front of the supermarket shelf. Take the stock that is packed behind – it will have a longer shelf life, indicated by the best before date. It might sound mean but if you can add three days onto the life of your milk by reaching six inches further into the fridge, you’d be mad not to.

8. A clutter-free fridge is an economical fridge. When you can’t see something, you are more likely to forget about it – so clear out fridges and don’t bury perishable products at the back.

9. Things on display get eaten. Wash the fruit – or at least the fruit that needs to be washed – in a batch and then put it in a bowl displayed prominently in your home. You and your family are far more likely to eat it that way. Similarly for vegetables, if it is stored in racks and can be clearly seen, it is less likely to spoil before you get round to eating it.

10. Serve it right. Once you have done all your buying, cooking and storing, the time has come to eat the food. Managing portions can have a major impact on food waste as we often cook too much and put too much on our plates. Instead of putting food on plates, put it in communal serving bowls. Yes it adds to the washing up, which is obviously a bad thing, but if people help themselves from communal bowls they will definitely eat less – and these leftovers are more likely to be kept and re-used, which doesn’t happen if food is piled high and left uneaten on a plate.

11. Store it all well. Storing your food properly will extend its life. Onions can make root vegetables go bad faster if stored with them, while many fruits release ethylene which causes premature ripening – so store them separately.

12. Keep it properly chilled. Make sure your fridge is at the right temperature. Setting it below 5°C will extend the life of perishable foods like milk or yoghurts.

13. Ignore best before dates. Most food is perfectly fine to eat after the best before date so pay no heed to it and if it looks and smells grand then it is grand. Use-by dates, by contrast, must always be adhered to, so ignore them very much at your peril.

14. Freeze for later. Almost everything can be frozen, so if you are not going to eat something in time just freeze it. Batch-cooking meals to keep in the freezer for a later date is a good way to make sure your fresh ingredients can still get used while they’re at their best.

15. Break out bagged salad. If you buy bagged salad, don’t leave it in the bag. When you get it home, pop it in a plastic container and cover the top with sheet of kitchen roll before putting a lid on it. That should give you up to three more days in which to eat it, as it is often the moisture in the bag that makes it go brown and soggy.

16. Blitz and blend. Rather than binning slightly stale but not yet mouldy bread, blitz it in a blender and use the fine crumbs as a flour replacement in making a cake. Seriously, it works, and it will taste great with a side order of smugness.