These 5 apps could save you money on food and prevent food waste

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Get up to 66% off your groceries with some of these apps.


Key points

  • Find a food app that works in your area to reduce your grocery bill and help the environment.
  • Some apps sell foods and products that don’t quite meet grocery store requirements.
  • Other apps connect consumers with people, stores, or restaurants so they can purchase discounted items that would otherwise go to waste.

Across the country, households are looking for ways to cut grocery costs as inflation drives prices up. These include switching to private label products, freezing sale items or reducing meat consumption. At the same time, USDA research shows that we waste about 30-40% of our food supply. This has a huge financial and environmental cost. Indeed, according to the United Nations, if food waste were a country, it would be the third emitter of greenhouse gases.

The good news? There are all kinds of projects that aim to reduce waste. Many of them can also save you money on groceries. Check out these five apps to save money and help the environment:

1. Too good to leave

The Too Good To Go app connects people to local stores and restaurants where they can buy unsold food at a discount. For example, a user in New York can reserve a magic bag full of baked goods from a nearby bakery for $4.99 instead of $15, a two-thirds discount. Discover discounts on everything from groceries to pizza. It’s a bit of a magical mystery tour: you won’t know exactly what the surprise bag will contain until you collect it.

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2. Flash food

Use Flashfood to find foods close to their best before date and buy them at discounted prices. You can get up to 50% off at local grocery stores through the app. The only downside is that it’s not operational across the US Flashfood originally launched in Toronto, and the majority of its partnerships are on the East Coast. Choose and pay for your items in the app, then drop by the store to collect your purchases.

3. Olio

The idea behind Olio is that neighbors and local businesses can share excess food that might otherwise go to waste. Install the app, fill in some basic information about yourself, and find nearby people who want to share their extra food. Maybe you live near a prolific baker who regularly over-responds and wants to share the richness of his cooking – you won’t know until you install Olio. The basic functionality of the app is free, but Olio is experimenting with paid options. Currently, paying to become an Olio supporter unlocks additional views and a special profile.

4. Misfit Market

A lot of food waste happens before the food even reaches our homes. Your favorite chipmaker might change brands, rendering old packages – containing perfectly good chips – obsolete. Or maybe the product doesn’t quite look like the grocery store wants it to. According to Misfits Market, nearly half of the food grown in the United States is thrown away because it can’t be sold.

Sign up for Misfits Market to save up to 40% on groceries and keep perfectly good food from ending up in the landfill. You will find many products that you might buy in a store, including organic produce, meat, fish, coffee, herbs, spices, condiments, etc. Similar to Imperfect Foods, the app starts you off each week with certain items in your cart. You will have to modify the order and wait for the delivery. Misfits Market operates in 49 US states.

5. Imperfect Foods

Imperfect Foods is very similar to Misfits Market – it offers weekly grocery deliveries with a focus on reducing waste. As the name suggests, the app sells products that are slightly imperfect or surplus to requirements. For example, you might get vegetables that are slightly misshapen or items that don’t meet supermarket size or weight requirements. You’ll start each week with a pre-filled basket based on your preferences, so you’ll need to enter and add or remove items as needed. Imperfect Foods is not available nationwide. It operates in the Central Southwest, Midwest, Northeast region and all along the West Coast.

At the end of the line

You don’t have to resort to dumpster diving to pick up food that would otherwise go to a landfill. These apps can help you reduce food waste and leave more money in your bank account. However, watch out for things like delivery costs and resist the temptation to buy things just because they’re discounted. If you save $20 on your weekly bill, but spend $5 on delivery and an additional $10 on items you wouldn’t normally buy, you’ve actually only saved $5.

There’s no single path to reducing your food expenses, but these apps can be part of the solution. Combine them with cash back apps or credit card rewards on your normal grocery purchases and you might be well on your way to beating inflation.

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