So recently I decided to check the app Too Good to Go and what it could offer in terms of solution to reduce food waste. The concept of this app is simple: shops, hotels and restaurants sell their leftovers of the day via the platform for a reasonable price. I wasn't sure about what to expect from this app, whether I would get good products or be disappointed, but I tried it over the Christmas weekend with a budget of 25€ for 2 adults.
I downloaded the app on Friday afternoon with the goal of getting enough food so 2 people could eat healthy and on a budget over the weekend. Upon checking the app I realized that there were 200+ establishments selling their leftovers in Brussels, ranging from bakeries to well-known hotels, food chains and supermarkets. Among the many names that got my interest, there was Exki, Sequoia, Fonteyne The Kitchen and Les Tartes de Françoise. The map provided by Too Good to Go shows you clearly who has portions for sale, when there is 1 left and who doesn't have anything left.
On Friday, Exki and Sequoia still had portions for sale for 4,5€ and 4,99€. I decided to purchase 1 portion from Exki and 2 from Sequoia, so in total +/-14,5€. The time period to pick up the food was between 18:00 and 19:30 which worked perfectly for me. The description of the portion didn't say much besides to expect surprises because merchants never know what's left at the end of the day.
I showed up first at Exki and showed my coupon to the cashier. He went and picked up 3 items from the shelves, gave them to me and then confirmed the sale (by sliding the receipt button). In total, I received a Lautrec salad (salad, ham, lentils, etc.), a portion of lasagna (still warm!) and an Adelin sandwich (chicken). Not bad for a first stop and everything looked super fresh and cost only 4,5€.
My second stop was at Sequoia where I also showed my 2 coupons and a lovely lady walked me to the traiteur corner and got 2 big boxes from the fridges. I was surprised by the quantity of food in there and wondered if it could be a good pick up. Obviously since you are not choosing what's in the boxes, you can end up disappointed. I checked in details the content of my 2 portions when I arrived home and it wasn't bad at all and worth a lot more than the 12€ mentioned on the app (4,99€ instead of 12€). I actually received:
2 breads (apparently from Chambelland who makes excellent bio breads);
2 packs of sausages;
a bunch of yogurts (soy and coco);
2 pots of goat cream cheese;
2 pieces of cheese;
2 slices of pâté;
2 pots of lentils and carrot salad;
1 pot of stoump (potato & carrot);
1 beetroot salad;
2 big portions of vegan hâchis parmentier;
Surprising right? That's a lot for 2 x 4,99€ and everything looked either fresh or still edible. The branded items had a 20% discount on them and were about to reach their expiry date but we all know that yogurts and cheese are still edible even after expiring. I wasn't worried about dates, rather more about whether I would like the prepared food like the salads or the hâchis parmentier.
I started by eating the Exki salad on Friday night followed by a coco yogurt, it was really good and healthy. I froze one of the breads and sausages pack to eat first the fresh food and salads. The next morning I tried the bread with the cheese and pâté and once again it was a lovely surprise, everything was good and fresh (not green, rotten or looking strange). Mr took the sandwich from Exki and really liked it, it was filling and great to start the day. For lunch I tried the vegan hâchis parmentier which I really didn't like, not because it was't fresh but the recipe wasn't for me I guess :) I had never tried a vegan variation and some of the ingredients didn't please my taste buds, however Mr liked it so...I ate the lasagna from Exki instead which made for a perfect light lunch. In the evening, we made a mix of lentils salad, stoump and cooked a pack of sausages. It turned out to be delicious and overall I'd say we ate pretty healthy and on a budget!
At the end of the day, we were left with still a bunch of food to last the weekend > bread, pâté, cheese, cream cheese, one portion of hâchis, a pack of sausages, and some more salad. So we easily could have last another day with these! However I was interested in testing a dessert and a traiteur that I really like: Les Tartes de Françoise and Fonteyne The Kitchen. Hence, I purchased a portion from both places at the price of 5,99€ and 4,99€.
On Saturday evening I went to get the goods, bringing tupperwares with me, and stopped first at Fonteyne The Kitchen. I was the only one who booked a portion apparently but the staff was super nice. They took my tupperwares and filled them with enough food for a full meal for two: salmon and blinis, huge meatballs with a risotto. I was then off to Les Tartes de Françoise to get us dessert. The shop was still open at 6:30PM just for the Too Good to Go users and everyone could either have a small quiche or a huge pie... I received a big moelleux/chocolate pie.
I checked prices online and once more, using Too Good to Go was financially interesting. The salmon and blinis cost normally 13,60€, the risotto with lemon tree leaves costs 4,70€ per portion and the meatballs about 10€. As for the dessert, the large moelleux costs 19,5€. In total this dinner would have costed me 47,80€ but with the app I only paid 10,98€. So yes you can eat well and on a budget if you choose the good addresses and jump on opportunities :)
We finished most of our leftovers from Sequoia on Monday for lunch but still had some bread, cheese and paté left. The food from Fonteyne disappeared the next day...As for the moelleux, it became the attraction of our family dinner! Everyone knows Les Tartes de Françoise and how good they are :)
I did buy something more on the 27th because we were invited to a friends place for dinner...Another portion from Les Tartes de Françoise to not arrive empty handed. I went to collect my potion around 3pm and got an awesome surprise...I received a Yule log and a nice one at that: dark chocolate and bourbon vanilla! Here is the description I found on the website of Les Tartes de Françoise: Light dark chocolate mousse, creamy bourbon vanilla heart, crunchy praline, chocolate mirror glaze. Sponge cake with cocoa. Sounds amazing right? Well that's what I received for 5,99€ and once more, it made quite an impression at dinner.
Currently, I have only had good surprised with this app and can honestly recommend it to anyone looking to reduce food waste, eat healthy and on a budget. The only downside is that you don't have a choice about what you're getting so you need to be flexible and ready to experience new things.
Now regarding plastic waste, there is still a lot of work to be done. Besides Fonteyne The Kitchen, every other provider that I tested uses plastic to wrap or contain the food. We should try to generalize the use of tupperware to be even more efficient. Another point is that unless you are going to the shop by foot/bicycle to get your portion, you will pollute. I always try to visit shops that are anyway on my itinerary in order to reduce pollution but still...it's not the eco-friendly solution.
Besides the plastic waste/pollution point above, I am definitely going to keep using this app from time to time and try as much as possible to reduce food waste and plastic consumption at home...A good 2019 resolution!
Have you tried Too Good To Go? How was your experience?