Cancel Preloader

I Ate $6 Takeout Meals for a Week Using This Genius Delivery App

 I Ate $6 Takeout Meals for a Week Using This Genius Delivery App


paper to go bag on table with groceries paper to go bag on table with groceries

I tried the unique service that keeps the fridge stocked for cheap and diverts food waste out of landfills.

Too Good To Go

If you want fresh, hot takeout food without the high cost of traditional delivery apps, you’re in luck. Too Good to Go is a delivery app disruptor that lets restaurants, delis, bakeries and markets offload prepared foods that may otherwise be destined for the trash and to consumers at massive discount. The surprise meals are available for pickup just before the restaurant closes and are mostly priced between $4 and $7, or roughly 50% to 75% cheaper than the normal price. 

It’s a mixed bag — literally, as you don’t have any say in what you’re getting unless you come upon the handful with vegan and vegetarian options — but for your gamble, you generally get a good amount of food and the dual satisfaction of knowing you saved some money, as well as having kept several servings of quality food out of the trash

With user ratings and reviews built into the app, it’s easy to get a sense of which surprise bags provide the most for your money. I tried Too Good to Go for a week and found the service easy to use. It proved to be a cheap way to eat well on nights you don’t want to cook and save money compared to conventional takeout, especially if you’re strategic in your approach.

Read more: Nope, You Can’t Recycle Black Plastic Takeout Boxes. Here’s What You Can Recycle

Trying Too Good to Go for a week

too good to go bag on table with groceries too good to go bag on table with groceries

The app features restaurants and supermarkets looking to offload food a fraction of the normal cost that might otherwise be consumed.

Too Good to Go

I wanted to explore the service, not necessarily in terms of its breadth of interesting food options, but more on the potential money savings built into its concept, so I rescued five surprise bags over the course of a week to see whether this was a legitimate way to eat on a budget. I was primarily looking for options that seemed like they could provide multiple meals, and would have the capacity to freeze well for later consumption.

The more concentrated your population, the more options you’ll have available through Too Good to Go. In my outer-borough neighborhood of New York City, there are over a dozen options available regularly within a one-mile radius of where I live. (I found by looking at the app regularly that not every business has bags to give away every day.) Since I was approaching this from a money-saving and routine feeding standpoint, I wasn’t looking to pop all over town for the most appealing options, but rather to source close to home, or occasionally in other neighborhoods when appointments or commitments brought me to those areas already.

too good to go too good to go

Too Good to Go has dozens of options for meals to pick up, all for about $6 each.

Too Good to Go

One inherent challenge of using Too Good to Go is that probably half of the participating eateries are bakeries whose products have no resale value beyond that day. It’s a good use of the app from the retailers’ perspective but as a consumer… While a bag full of baguettes and pastries is a fun treat once in a while (or useful if you have a big family or an upcoming brunch party), for a household of one, it’s probably not one of the most advisable ways to take advantage of the service. 

Read more: Mill Bin Review: Turn Gross Food Scraps to Dirt in 6 Hours (Just Don’t Call It Compost)

Too Good to Go takeout diary: what I ate in a week

Focusing mostly on non-bakeries, here’s a breakdown of the five bags I got from Too Good to Go over the course of the week, factoring in what I paid for the bag, what the original value of the items would have been if purchased outright, how many meals it afforded me, and what the resulting cost per meal broke down to.

Bag 1: Chicken and broccoli and fried rice from AB Fish Market

two containers of chinese takrout two containers of chinese takrout

This heaping helping of Chinese food cost me just $6 plus tax.

Pamela Vachon/CNET

My first experience with Too Good to Go was a win, which set a good tone for the rest of the week. Being at a commitment on the Upper East Side, this was something to grab on my way home, with a pickup window in the early evening. The food was extremely fresh, especially compared to similar, buffet-style meals that are offered on steam tables in delis all over town.

  • Total cost from Too Good to Go: $6 plus tax
  • Total original cost: $16 plus tax
  • Savings: about $10
  • Total number of meals: 3 
  • Total cost per meal: $2.17

Bag 2: Bagel assortment from Murray’s Bagels

murrays-bagels murrays-bagels

That’s a whole lot of bagels to freeze and eat throughout the month for $6. 

Pamela Vachon/CNET

Sourcing from bakeries on a regular basis isn’t always a great idea, but bagel shops are the notable exception, as bagels freeze extremely well and qualify more as a sound meal choice (for me, anyway) than a pastry. Moreover, there were a number of people picking up Too Good to Go bags at the same time as I was, and the whole thing had a festive atmosphere about it since Murray’s giveaway bags were a genuine armload. 

  • Total cost from Too Good to Go: $6 plus tax
  • Total original cost: $28 plus tax
  • Savings: about $22
  • Total number of meals: 16 (15 bagels plus a muffin)
  • Total cost per meal: $.41

Bag 3: Mixed platter from Alnour

alnour pasta dish in takeout container alnour pasta dish in takeout container

This Lebanese pasta dish was more like two meals.

Pamela Vachon/CNET

Many of the eateries available on Too Good to Go are from those whose cuisines rely on long-cooking roasts or braises, where food is prepared in advance and ready to serve, rather than those that mostly cook to order. My neighborhood has a robust Middle Eastern presence, with several options available on the app, so I picked this bag up on the way home one evening from a Lebanese restaurant. I was happy for the pasta component, even though it wasn’t something on their listed menu, since this freezes well and I was able to put a portion away for a later time.

  • Total cost from Too Good to Go: $6 plus tax
  • Total original cost: $15 plus tax
  • Savings: about $9
  • Total number of meals: Four (I’m not being delicate — this platter was hearty.)
  • Total cost per meal: $1.63 

Bag 4: Miscellaneous groceries from Horton’s Market

hortons market hortons market

The turkey bacon alone was worth the $6 I paid for this bundle of groceries.

Pamela Vachon/CNET

Several grocery stores or markets have a presence on Too Good to Go, typically offering goods whose “sell by” date is fast approaching, but that still have life. I provided a grocery bag to a store employee, who went to fill it from the stash of items that had already been pulled from the shelves. It’s hard to qualify this in terms of meals, but in terms of savings, it was a great grab. I estimate I got about $35 to $40 worth of goods, all of which were useful in my household, for about $5. Landfill = spared. Fridge = stocked.

  • Total cost from Too Good to Go: $5
  • Total original cost: $35 to $40
  • Savings: about $30 to $35

Bag 5: Slices from Astoria Pizza Factory

astoria-pizza-factory astoria-pizza-factory

Three big slices of specialty pie would normally be more like $10 or $12.

Pamela Vachon/CNET

Pizza is another good score on Too Good to Go, especially in markets such as New York, whose pizzerias sell by the slice and potentially have leftovers at closing time. There are a number of 99-cent slice shops in New York, but A) none of them are in my neighborhood, and B) none have slices this big or this flavorful. (For 99 cents, you’re getting cheese. Period.) The photo isn’t doing the size justice, but each slice here was equivalent to about two and a half slices of conventional pizza, and a meal unto itself.

  • Total cost from Too Good to Go: $5 plus tax
  • Total original cost: $13.80 plus tax
  • Savings: about $8
  • Total number of meals: 3
  • Total cost per meal: $1.81

The verdict? With Too Good to Go I saved $80 and ate well all week

In total, I estimate I saved about $80 over the course of the week compared to whether I would have purchased these items outright. More to the point, though, for a total of about $30, I scored 10 lunches or dinners and two weeks’ worth of breakfasts for that price — plus an assortment of groceries, many of which I could put to use for snacks or desserts.

It’s not a perfect system for eating regularly, insofar as the offerings might get stale if you are routinely sourcing from your immediate vicinity. At about $2 or less per meal, it’s about on par with what you might spend to cook for yourself. Should you be lured away from conventional takeout or delivery by the promise of a big discount, however (even occasionally), that’s a savings that will still add up for you in a year. With Earth Day on our minds, rescuing food destined for the trash also leaves behind a good taste.

Where is Too Good to Go available?

The app is currently available in over a dozen countries, and 17 cities in the US, including Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (and the New York metro area), Philadelphia, Portland (both Maine and Oregon), Providence, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.



Related post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *