Skip to main content

This is site branding, but a pretty good representation of what the experience is like. This is Portland, so bring your own bag. Courtesy of Too Good to Leave

Everyone loves a deal. But many offers that seem advantageous at first glance often end up costing us time and energy. In the case of Denmark’s Too Good To Go app, which seeks to eliminate food waste by connecting customers with leftover ingredients from restaurants and cafes, swapping has both downsides and upsides.

Overall, the idea works. Users find and reserve “goodie bags” from nearby businesses and pay only a third of what the contents of the bag would normally cost at retail. In return, restaurants can recoup some of the cost of food they would otherwise have thrown away.

The possible content of a surprise bag is wide, and this is part of the advantages for the store – little effort on their part. Typically, companies give guidance on what customers can expect:Eb & Bean discharge excess dairy-free yogurt, Little Provence probably has extra pastries, but the contents are supposed to be unexpected.

While customers have Nope control over what they will receive, some might prefer a surprise or feel more willing to any food, especially if there’s a deal involved. Using the app reminded me of many beautiful university budget nights, the 2 a.m. trot to our nearby pizzeria to see if there were any freebies, or the unexpected glory of working at a coffee shop till at closing time and hear those three magic words: Anyone want some bagels?

The main thing to know about Too Good To Go is that 90% of what you find there will be pastries from the day before. If you like sweets and bread, this is your paradise. If you’re trying to find greens and meats, you’ll need to check the app often.

Anyone who’s worked in the restaurant business will probably say leftovers should go to the staff, but it’s not like Too Good To Go sends you home with everything leftover pizza. What you get is the amount of food for a meal at 1/3 the price. So if a pizzeria sells slices at $4 a pop, you could probably expect to receive three or four slices instead of one by paying $3.99 on the app.

Some companies really seem to take pride in the process. In the three months I traveled Portland with the app, laughing planet always impressed by the care taken in the presentation of a real meal: starter, fries, and sometimes a drink or a biscuit, all ready to go. The same can be said of Taylor Street Kitchena new deli and specialty food store near the downtown library.

Other places just give you the excess and let you cook it yourself. Henry Higgins Boiled Bagels will sell you nine day olds for five bucks through the app, but when you pick them up, you might notice that there are already day-old bags out there without the need to use tech. Avoiding the app also lets you watch the selection of favorite flavor options. With Too Good To Go, you get what they give you. In fact, I wasn’t disappointed with my nine Strawberry Jalapeño Bagels, and they were perfectly good the next day—longer if you partake in the age-old tradition of slicing and freezing bagels for future hungry mornings.


The main thing to know about Too Good To Go is that 90% of what you find there will be pastries from the day before.


Poke SeaSweets politely presented me with two solid pounds of white sticky rice and shrimp in a bag that made me feel like I had just won a goldfish at a carnival. Afterwards, I found myself thinking that for a few extra bucks I could have whatever poke I wanted and the toppings that went with it.

In this way, Too Good To Go also appears as a useful tool for companies that want more visibility. At every place I had a good experience, I ended up revisiting and paying full price. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If someone is waiting for a deal and there is no extra pizza that day, it might deter them from opening a trade for a while.

One of the buggy aspects of the app is that there doesn’t seem to be an option for businesses to cancel offers, if they don’t have any leftovers. Over 20 visits I got up twice which wasted my time, traveling and how impatient I can be when my blood sugar is low. There’s a bit of a bargain seekers dilemma where the user is looking for food that needs to be eaten soon, but can’t necessarily trust it.

Too Good To Go will work best for users with flexible schedules and no food allergies. I can’t stress enough that you can’t control what they give you. However, bargain-hunters and foodies on a budget could easily turn this app into a cheap and unexpected gourmet adventure.


Too Good To Go is available wherever good apps are downloaded. To date, it operates in 12 US cities.