As the cost of living continues to skyrocket, many of us are strapped for cash and trying to find ways to make ends meet.
From soaring fuel prices to high energy bills, we are surrounded by demands for money.
Just this week I remembered the good old days when a full tank of petrol cost £30 before being quickly brought down to earth when my total read £50 – for just over half a tank.
Coincidentally, I also had an appetite for cheap, tasty food accessible from my doorstep.
Enter the Too Good To Go (TGTG) online sensation.
Surplus food saved
For those of you who have never heard of the beloved app, all you need to know is that it connects customers to restaurants, supermarkets, cafes and independent businesses in their area that have a surplus of unsold food.
After opening the app, you can find a wide range of places near you that offer discounted food throughout the day.
You pay in advance (your food normally costs a third of the original price of the items) and collect your aptly named “magic bag” at a designated time.
What makes bags “magical”, I hear you ask? The fact that its content is a surprise every time – which means it can be hilarious and unpredictable.
Although I’ve had the app on my phone for about a year, I’ve never used it – until now.
I decided to take the plunge and see how much food I could get for £10.
READ MORE: Vegan fish and chips? Yes they are real and we tried them – Full review here
Hampshire Daisy Cake
Total spent: £3.39
The first listing that popped up when I opened the app was independent cake company Daisy Cake Hampshire.
I barely looked at the price before adding one of their “magic bags” to my cart. Who can refuse the excess cake?
I ventured five minutes down the road to retrieve my “magic bag”, a term used lightly by this company.
It would be best described as a ‘magical load’, the bag was so heavy – something I was extremely happy with.
Like a child on Christmas morning, I reached into my bag, took out two very heavy containers and opened them.
Much to my delight, there were copious amounts of cake.
In the first box were two chocolate and salted caramel cupcakes and two white chocolate and raspberry cupcakes.
In the second were two types of delicious sponge cake; lemon and strawberry and champagne. This last flavor was new to my taste buds and a favorite of my impressive collection of cakes.
All the cakes were delicious and although I’m a huge cake fan, I accepted defeat at the start of my trip and shared my stash with my grandparents, who were just as thrilled as I was.
All in all, this “magic bag” was exceptional value for money and I look forward to Daisy Cake’s next announcement.
Total spent: £4.50
A popular choice for TGTG users, Starbucks is known for packing surprises into its “magic bags” – from stories of bags full of cheese toast and pastries to bags containing a few meager items, I was excited but eager to see what my bag would have in store for me.
I drove to my nearest branch in Hedge End and picked up what appeared to be the last TGTG bag for the day.
Curiosity getting the better of me, I dug into my bag as soon as the cafe doors closed behind me.
My “magic bag” contained three items, all of which were savory, breakfast or lunch style sandwiches.
The first, a steak and cheese ciabatta. Not a great start for a vegetarian, but I kept going and, to my delight, discovered two vegan options at the bottom of the bag.
First up was Starbucks Beyond Meat Breakfast Sandwich and Marinara No Meatball Wrap, which I enjoyed, although the breakfast sandwich was a bit dry. However, they made up for the ciabatta which I couldn’t eat, so can’t really complain.
Quite relieved that I hadn’t paid almost £5 for three meat sandwiches, I got back in my car and headed to my final destination for the day.
Toby Carvery – Vegetarian Rotisserie
Total spent: £2.29
If I’m being completely honest, this offer from Toby Carvery is one of the main reasons I wanted to try TGTG and write this review.
Every time I’ve read the app in the past, it’s been the list that has stood out for me (mostly for its super low price), so I was very excited to get my “bag magical”.
After driving up the road from Bishopstoke to collect my bag, I returned home with my loot and opened the box containing my roast dinner.
The box was filled with boiling hot vegetables and four decent sized roast potatoes, but I was quite disappointed with the lack of a meat alternative.
I was hoping to get a few slices of roast nuts or the like, but digging around the big pile of vegetables proved me wrong.
Anyway I enjoyed my roast dinner but I would think twice before buying from Toby Carvery again because at the end of the day it was just potatoes and of vegetables in sauce.
Total spent: £10.18
My booty was not to be sniffed at. From there I gained three meals and a number of desserts (luckily I don’t age cake) so I would say Too Good To Go is excellent value.
If you’re lucky enough to receive food with a decent expiration date, or you have a hungry family or a freezer, you can save a good amount of money.
Otherwise, you’ll probably get a good deal, but you could literally end up biting off more than you can chew or getting something you’d rather not eat.
The risk is that you don’t know what you’re going to get in your bag, but that’s the “magic” in my opinion.