Last week, I spotted that our local Co-op is now listed on the Too Good To Go app, selling £10 worth of short-dated food for £3.30.
Find out what I got – and whether it’s worth trying.
What is Too Good To Go?
If you haven’t come across Too Good To Go before, it’s a free app where you can buy perfectly good food for less, because otherwise it would be thrown away at the end of the day. Too Good To Go can therefore help save money and cut food waste at the same time.
You buy ‘Magic Bags’ with a mystery selection of items for less than they’d cost full price. You pay via the app, then have to collect your purchase during a specific time slot.
The app lists options from a whole range of different bakeries, cafes, restaurants, hotels, sandwich shops and grocery stores, from high street giants like Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Pret to small independent outlets.
If you live in central London, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here in Hadleigh? Less so.
When I spotted East of England Co-op on the app, I snapped up a Magic Bag to see what I would get!
What I got in my Too Good To Go bag from the Co-op
The deal with Too Good To Go is that you don’t get to choose what’s in your bag. All you know is what the food should be worth full price, and what you actually pay.
My £3.30 Magic Bag was supposed to contain a tenner’s worth of food. Everything I got was yellow-snickered, so I could see both what it cost full price, and the lower price when sold on the reduced sections in store.
Check out the photo at the top of the post for everything I got:
- Co-op double pepperoni pizza, 327g.
- Full price £3.05, marked down to £1.35
- Co-op Irresistible blueberries, 125g.
- Full price £2.69, marked down to 83p
- Small white Warburtons sliced loaf, 400g.
- Full price £1.25, marked down to 75p
- Pack of 4 Warburtons breakfast muffins.
- Full price £95p, marked down to 64p
- Co-op walnut cake, 250g.
- Full price £1.49, marked down to 97p
- Co-op garlic and cheese flatbread, 265g.
- Full price £2.55, marked down to £1.12
- Gourmet raspberry greek-style yogurt, 150g.
- Full price £1.25, marked down to 26p
- Co-op Irresistible pork sausage roll.
- Full price £1.69, marked down to 64p
- Co-op breaded ham 120g.
- Full price £1.99, marked down to 70p
- Full price: £16.91
- Marked down: £7.26
Compared to the £3.30 I paid, I got twice as much yellow-stickered food, and five times as much compared to full price.
What did I make with it?
The Magic Bag was a combination of processed food (pizza, flatbread, sausage roll, walnut cake, raspberry yogurt) and basics (ham, loaf, muffins, blueberries). That meant there was limited scope for cooking, if you don’t count toast…
The walnut cake came in handy when we had a visitor the next day, while the sausage roll and sandwiches made from bread and ham went down well for lunch, with the yogurt as a snack.
We scarfed the pizza in the evening, alongside the flatbread gussied up with ham, red pepper and olives so it could pass for another pizza. I used the blueberries to make breakfast pancakes. I stashed the muffins in the freezer, then used them later with ham or toasted with jam.
Was it worth the money?
I certainly ended up with food worth more than the £3.30 I paid, and more than the £10 it was meant to sell for at full price. We were happy to eat it all, with nothing binned.
But I can’t say I really cut more than £13 from my shopping bill – because I wouldn’t normally fork out full price for all these items.
I would buy the ham. I’d generally opt for cheaper versions of the blueberries and pizza. I might even have bought the sausage roll when yellow-stickered, as my youngest is a big fan.
But I’d never normally fork out for branded muffins or bread – particularly a teeny 400g loaf for £1.25 when I normally get twice as much for half the price, as an 800g sliced loaf for 59p from Morrisons. I certainly wouldn’t spend £1.25 on a small pot of yogurt, when I normally get a kilo of plain greek style yogurt for £1.55
Nor would I normally buy the walnut cake or the cheese and garlic flatbread, though I’d probably spend similar amounts to the yellow-stickered prices on a pack of biscuits and a pizza.
Too Good To Go: the verdict
I do like the Too Good To Go app, and am all for reducing food waste, but I get frustrated when it’s touted as a brilliant way to cut food spending during the current cost of living crisis.
Sure, if you get a Magic Bag from one of the many restaurants, cafes and sandwich shops, it’ll cost less than full price.
But when I’m really strapped for cash, I wouldn’t be buying there anyway – I’d be taking packed lunches or eating at home.
I get the most value from Magic Bags from grocery stores such as Morrisons and the Co-op, with the potential for more raw ingredients, although even then you might get overwhelmed with a glut of avocados or lemon grass or end up with duplicates of stuff you already have. Suddenly you’re starring in your own episode of Ready Steady Cook, and may have to buy extra items to use it up. Anything that goes in the bin is hardly a bargain.
And that’s the real issue with Too Good To Go: you can’t choose what you get.
It makes it fun, diving into a ‘Magic Bag’ so see what on earth it contains, with the excitement of a lucky dip or pack of football stickers. But it can also be disappointing, if you end up with a bunch of things you’d never normally buy, or don’t like. It doesn’t work for picky eaters, or anyone with dietary requirements, apart from the limited vegan or vegetarian options. I’ve also seen people complaining online that their purchase wasn’t worth what they paid, although I’ve never experienced that.
Availability varies depending on where you live and collection slots are often at the end of the day. That makes sense for an app designed to cut food waste, but isn’t always convenient. If you’ve looking for lunch, for example, you’ll end up either eating distinctly later than normal – 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm – or buying something to eat the next day. With my Co-op Magic Bag, for example, the collection slot was between 19.30 and 21.30, and all the food had a use by or best before date the same day. So you need either a hearty appetite, a big freezer or a relaxed attitude to food dating. With the really popular options, such as Morrisons, you may also need to stalk the app at odd times to snap up limited supplies (more on How to get a Too Good To Go Morrisons box).
I bear a particular grudge for stores where I’ve schlepped for an evening collection, only for them to turn round and say ‘sorry, no Magic Bags today, cancel on the app tomorrow to get refunded’ (*cough* Hadleigh Morrisons).
So overall, I view Too Good To Go as more of a treat than a secret weapon to cut food costs.
If money is really tight, I reckon I can save more going to the supermarkets, buying basic ingredients and picking up a few yellow-stickered items that I know we’ll use. But for now, I’d definitely buy another Magic Bag from the Co-op – it was fun and well worth it!
Now – over to you. Have you tried Too Good To Go? How did you find it?