Fighting food waste with Too Good To Go

Sophie Dibben and Saskia Steinberg rate Dublin’s best Too Good To Go spots

Too Good To Go is all about fighting food waste. The company was founded in Denmark in 2015, connecting people through their app to cheap surplus food, and has saved 29 million meals since its launch in 2015. For a reduced sum, customers can pay for a surprise bag of food that restaurants, supermarkets, or cafés would have otherwise thrown out. It’s a great solution to the frightening amount of food waste thrown away each year, which according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), totals 150kg per Irish household. 

But we’re not here to yabber on about food waste, and the fact that a third of food produced ends up in the bin, we’re here to tell you how one-third of that delicious food can end up in your mouth, for a very small price. 

How does it work? 

First and foremost, download the app. Then reserve a “magic bag” filled with food that a store, café, or restaurant of your choice has leftover. It’s a surprise, and sometimes a bit of a gamble, so you can consult our guides for advice. 

The app gives you a specific time frame to collect your bag from the store. Warning: If you miss the collection time, you will not be refunded. It’s as simple as that. 

What if I’ve got a dietary requirement?

For the veggies out there: in my eyes, Too Good To Go is the best excuse to sink your teeth into meat and eat dairy products guilt-freeit’s going to waste anyway if you don’t eat it. 

Otherwise, many stores specify a “vegetarian bag”. You can also let the staff at the store know your preference as soon as you arrive because some allow you to pick and choose the food. For others, the bag is already prepared for you so this isn’t an option. Umi Falafel and Tang come out on top for vegetarian food. However, vegan and gluten-free options are a lot harder to come by.

Sophie and Saskia’s guide to the best Too Good To Go spots

Caffè Nero, Merrion Row.  €4.99

App rating: 4.2

Personal rating: 3.8

Sophie: Caffè Nero offers copious amounts of hearty and substantial food. I had a ham and cheese panini, a sausage sandwich and a cookiegood times! All Caffè Neros provide the same sort of thing. Meat-free paninis are also available. 

KC Peaches – Nassau Street. €4.99

App rating: 4.5

Personal rating: 4.8

Sophie: Wow. We’re talking two boxes of lasagne, that cheesy pasta bake, those typical vegetable dishes, a soup, and a sweet pastry.  If you play your cards right, you can also wangle a cheesecake brownie. Incredible value for money. 

Although, after consulting friends, 22-year-old Georgina Farrelly had a bone to pick (literally) with KC Peaches. According to Farrelly, they do not offer a vegetarian option and her bag was a “big mush up of stuff.” 

Soup Dragon, Capel Street, €3.99

App rating 4.4

Personal rating: 3.2

Saskia: I received two large soups, a side salad and two slices of bread. However, I was fairly disappointed to learn that both of the soups were carrot and coriander, arguably bottom of the soup hierarchy. The side salad consisted of a meagre handful of leaves yet, the large slices of bread were the saving grace.

It didn’t quite fulfil my expectations, it is certainly questionable whether it totalled €12. Yet for €3.99, it’s a deal and if you are a carrot and coriander fan, you know where to go!

Wren Urban Nest, just off Exchequer Street – €3.99
App rating: 4.0

Personal rating: 0.5

Sophie: In my opinion, this “trendy hotel featuring a café” is NOT a good option. My 4pm collection gave me one box of weird quiche. I suppose it’s bougie hotel food, but I was not impressed. 

Having said this, I have not tried out the breakfast here, and the place does have a 4.0 rating which is not too shabby. Hotel breakfasts usually involve a lot of mini pastrieswhich are always fun. 

Hanley’s Cornish Pasties, Merchant’s Arch, Temple Bar – €4.99

App rating: 4.0

Personal rating: 3.5

Sophie: Three pasties: mushroom and cheese, chicken, and beef. This is a certified bargain. Nutritious and delicious might be a stretch, but delicious? Absolutely. 

I ate one of these on the way to the pub, and the rest in the pub with no weird looks. You can eat pasties wherever you like. 

SPAR – College Green and North Dock. €3.99

App rating: 4.4

Personal rating: 1.3

Sophie: Too Good To Go bags from supermarkets usually provide milk, cheese, yoghurt, perhaps crisps, and an orange. It is always bitterly disappointing. 

SPAR in particular is so expensive that you might as well go to Lidl or Aldi for these products at a smaller cost (and they won’t go off in the next day or two). 

Camerino Bakery. Capel Street. €3.99

App rating: 4.2

Personal rating: 2.3

Sophie: This bakery takes the taste-over-presentation mantra a bit too far. My experience involved a box of tarts all stuck together in a bit of a mushy mess. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love how Too Good To Go is rough and ready. We don’t want perfect, pristine fine dining. We want value for money. But the caramel shortbread had melted onto the second tart, which made for a heart attack sugar sandwich.

Fresh, Smithfield. €5.99 

App rating 3.9

Personal rating: N/A

Sophie: I’ve never collected a bag from here so I consulted group chats. 

“20 to 30 quid worth of food,” reported Jaspar Taheny, 21. But it is “not very fresh and not very useful,” according to Ferdia Rocher, 20. We have a mixed bag of reviews there. 

Tang, Dawson Street, €5.99

App rating 4.8

Personal rating: 4.4

Saskia: Tang is a well-known Trinity hotspot, so I was excited to see it make an appearance on the app. I got a large salad, a side salad and a soup. 

I appreciated that I was given a choice of protein. This is a rarity for Too Good To Go customers, as you often have to take what you’re given. However, upon calculating the price, it’s safe to say it didn’t fulfil the €18 it was said to be worth. Yet, for Tang prices, where a salad is at least €7.50, it again was a bargain.

Hustle Kitchen, Smithfield. €3.99

App rating 4.4

           Personal rating: 5.0

Sophie: Every day they are Hustlin’ Fresh and homemade, large quantities of meals for under 4 euros. This palace is the Bee’s Knees and my personal favourite. 

Sprout & Co, Exchequer Street. €4.99

App rating 4.7

Personal rating: 4.5 ★ 

Sophie: You can get two vegetarian bags here, jam-packed with tofu, mushrooms, and sweet sweet potatoes. Your health is your wealth in this store. 

Rosie’s Café, Dublin castle, €3.99

App rating 3.7.

Personal rating: 1.2

Sophie: This was my first Too Good To Go experience in Dublin after using the app extensively in Geneva. 

I have no idea how one salty quiche made me such a fanatic of the app. I tried explaining to the staff that one food item is not going to cut the mustard (in a friendly way of course), but they objected. Well, they should take a page out of Pizza Truck’s book…

Pizza Truck HQ, Phoenix Park, €5.99 

App rating 4.2

Personal rating: 4.7

Sophie: If you don’t get lost enough in Phoenix Park en route, you’ll get lost in the staff’s eyes. 

Dashing men occupy the truck and give you three pizzas, making it well worth the trek. 

Taste of Spain, Capel Street, €3.99

App rating 3.5

Personal rating: 0.3

Saskia: Thankful to say that I never purchased a bag from here, although my flatmate, Gen Finn did.

Gen explains she purchased a bag and received a large tub of pork fat and expired ketchup. Someone say April fools.

Advice for budding Too Good To Go-ers:

Speaking to third-year student, Lottie Basil, she explains that “you don’t know if you’re going to like what they give you and then you’re stuck with food you didn’t want. But when it’s food you do want it’s great!”. As highlighted, it can inadvertently create a contradictory outcome, as you can have food you don’t end up eating. One solution to this can be purchasing multiple bags with a friend and sharing the food between you.

Despite Gen’s pork fat and ketchup debacle, she says that Too Good To Go “it’s generally a reliable app. A tip would be to use the favourites feature and keep track of the restaurants you like. Eventually, you start to notice when they put their bags up for purchase, and this is really helpful info if you’re looking to get one of the really in-demand bags.” Gen quotes her most successful bags being Yum Thai, Veganic, Cornucopia, Margadh, and Fruitique!

Upon reflection, Too Good To Go is certainly hit and miss. Depending on where you order from it can be disappointing. Student, Eliza Sinclair, says “you have to give lots of them a go and then you can revisit the ones that are good”. Additional advice from Eliza: “if there’s anything less than 3 stars I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole”. 

The discrepancy between the value of the product and what you receive, however, does not take away from Too Good To Go’s core goal. Through buying surplus food, it contributes to the fight against food waste. It’s a cheap and easy way to grab a meal whilst simultaneously benefiting a great cause.

To conclude, Too Good To Go is a bit of an early bird catches the worm situation. The bags sell out pretty quickly, so if you are dilly-dallying on whether to reserve, just go for it. You can also cancel your order up to two hours before the start of the collection time. Dublin’s Too Good To Go scene is definitely on an upper trajectory, with more and more restaurants joining the app. And what better way to help the environment than through eating food