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How To Eat Delicious Food on a Budget

Food waste. Big hands throw leftovers of dishes into trash. Get rid of expired products. Excessive consumption. Taking care of environment.

When I first came to Baltimore for my Ph.D., I was over the moon with excitement to try all the various foods a big city has to offer. As a southerner, my gastronomic options had been limited to the soul food classics: BBQ, grits and sweet tea. But not anymore! Goodbye sweet tea and hello boba! However, as I settled into life in Baltimore, I realized my planned culinary escapades would be limited by the root of all evil: money.

Like most graduate students, I don’t have a lot of money. Between rent, utilities, food, medicine, savings (when I can afford it) and so much more, it’s hard to set aside money for discretionary spending. I’ve learned that I have to limit spending in one area to afford purchases in another. Unfortunately, one of the first things to go was my takeout budget. But recently, I found something that helps me recapture my foodie days of old...

Enter the Too Good To Go app! This nifty piece of software funnels unsold food from restaurants into the mouths of hungry customers, saving over 300 million meals from being wasted since its founding in 2016.

Bag of croissants
All of this for $4!

Eager to try it out, I downloaded Too Good To Go (TGTG) and used it to snag a delicious deal from Café Poupon in Mt. Vernon. All I had to do was reserve a “surprise” bag of food on the app and pick it up at the end of the workday.
What I got was a massive bag of at least 10 or so croissants, each of which would’ve easily cost more than what I paid for the whole bag! After picking up my bounty, the app reported how much money and food waste I had saved.

Why is the bag a “surprise,” you might ask? Simple: Restaurants don’t know what food they’ll have left over at the end of the day. This lottery-style rationing could make it hard for folks with dietary restrictions to order food using the app. Fortunately, each restaurant’s profile is fully transparent about what kind of food you can expect in their bags. You can also set your food preferences so the app only shows locations that 100% agree with your tastes.

Map of TGTG locations
There are a LOT more options in D.C. and Philly.

After my first experience with TGTG, I was hungry for more. I looked to see what else there was to try in Baltimore: Ovenbird! Land of Kush! With TGTG, I can get inexpensive food from great establishments right at my doorstep. However, beyond a select few restaurants, I didn’t find many other Baltimore staples that partner with TGTG. But that’s just in Baltimore — I found plenty of participating restaurants in nearby cities like Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. In the future, TGTG’s reach will likely grow, as the company behind the app has an immense appetite for aggressive expansion. TGTG is available in 17 countries, meaning that in the future, you might be able to go anywhere in the world and get delicious food for cheap, reducing food waste all the while. For a foodie like me, that’s an exciting prospect. So, the next time I visit somewhere new, I’ll make sure to see what’s Too Good To Go for a bite to eat.

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