This New App Can Get You Super Cheap Mystery Meals From Nearby Restaurants

Too Good To Go is a Danish food app that allows users to buy pre-existing meals that restaurants would otherwise throw away at the fraction of what it would cost to order the meal to be made. 

The situation is a win-win, Lucie Basch, Too Good To Go's Co-Founder and Chief Expansion Officer, told PYMNTS. This is because restaurants that have to get rid of meals that were either cancelled after preparation or were made incorrectly could now save the food from being wasted and the users get a cheaper meal. 

The service connects to grocery stores and cafes as well.

The gimmick of Too Good To Go, Eater explains, is that the food customers get will be a surprise. In practice, this means that users get to choose from which source they pick up their food, but the establishment can fill the orders with whatever food they happen to have leftover. Otherwise, the app wouldn't saving food from waste but setting specific orders for specific dishes, which isn't how leftover food works.

"Say we build something wrong, or if someone cancels an order, we are now left with that product and we can't sell it," Marti Lieberman, the co-owner of Mac Mart, told WPVI-TV Philadelphia. Now, with the app, the restaurants can pass the food on to someone else who may enjoy it. After all, while the dish may remain a mystery until inspection, the restaurant and its reputation are likely known in advance. 

Food waste is a massive problem

While saving leftover dishes from restaurant rubbish bins may sound like a niche market, the problem it attempts to confront is actually massive. According to the garbage disposal company RTS, the United States is a world leader in food waste, with 40 million tons of food left to rot every year, or 219 pounds per person and 30% to 40% of the American food supply. Worldwide, the number is 1.8 billion tons.

An added impetus to care about food waste than simply abhorring wastefulness while millions starve is the impact wasted food has upon the environment. The University of California notes that the methane released by the food is 25 more times potent than carbon dioxide, and the contribution food waste makes to the pollutants in our atmosphere is 6.7%. Reducing that number will not magically save the planet from the effects of climate change, but as Too Good To Go shows, one way this problem can be easily alleviated is with a bit more ingenuity — and a willingness to eat whatever's available.