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The free food app that saves me a fortune on family holidays

by Staff

Worrying about food waste is probably not at the forefront of your
mind when you head off on holiday.

A holiday is a time to get away from everyday stresses, not try to tackle the woes of the world.

I use the Too Good to Go app to nab cut-price food on self-catering family holidaysCredit: Catherine Lofthouse
I’ve used the app to sample local produce in SpainCredit: Catherine Lofthouse

But I’ve discovered a self-catering hack that can benefit your pocket and the planet if used wisely.

I’m on the Too Good to Go app and often use it at home to get cut-price food from my local shop that would otherwise be thrown away as it’s reached the end of its sell-by date.

But it’s also great to use while on holiday with lots of stores and restaurants signing up around the world.

It means you can pick up some cut-price bargains while stopping perfectly good food from being sent to landfill, just because it’s hit a nominal date that’s often not really going to make much difference to whether it’s safe or tasty to eat.

One place where we used it to great effect last year was at Center Parcs Zandvoort-aan-Zee near Amsterdam, where the onsite shop used it to get rid of surplus stock every day.

For €5, we could order a “magic box”, which included enough to make a main meal for both meat-eaters and veggies, plus biscuits and snacks for the next day.

We even got a bottle of cordial thrown into the mix, so it’s not all fresh food that’s up for grabs.

In theory, the food in our order should have been worth €15 if bought at full price, but we all know that shops at holiday parks have inflated prices, so I’d take that with a pinch of salt.

That being said, I was impressed by the amount and variety of what we received.

Here in the UK, it can be hit and miss whether you get a reasonable deal or just end up with endless loaves of stale bread and sad-looking vegetables for your money.

It all depends on who’s putting the order together and what they have available that day.

One of my main rules when using the app in both the UK and abroad is that I won’t go out of my way to get to the shops at the pick-up time.

Orders can sometimes get cancelled at the last minute, which is frustrating if you’re making a special trip out to get the food, but no big deal if you happen to be passing at that time anyway.

The shop at Center Parcs was inside the main dome next to the entrance to the swimming pool and it had an hour-long early afternoon pick-up slot, easy enough to work around as it was just a couple of minutes’ walk from our accommodation.

Obviously, you’ve generally got no idea what you’re going to get, so if
you need to plan meals, or have fussy eaters, this might not be for you.

Luckily, I live with a family of absolute gannets so we generally will eat anything and I can rustle up grub with a few stock cupboard essentials, no matter what we end up with.

If you go for an order from a specialist shop, you’ve got more of an
idea what you’re going to get, so that can also be helpful.

In Fuerteventura, we picked up some local mozzarella from a small independent cheesemaker, which we used to make a delicious creamy
pasta sauce.

The shop was just a minute away from where we were watching the Kings parade, so again was very convenient.

It’s probably not something we would have bought at full price, but using the app can be a good way to sample local produce that you would never think to buy if you saw it on the shelves.

The juice and biscuits we received at Center Parcs were not brands we have here in the UK, so it’s all part of the adventure of being abroad.

The best thing to do if you fancy giving the Too Good to Go app a go
on your getaway is to familiarise yourself with how it works while
you’re still at home.

Pop in your postcode and choose a shop you know well, then you’ll find out what you need to do to pick up your order when you arrive.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s exactly the same process abroad, but at least you won’t be trying to get to grips with it while also communicating with a shop worker in a language other than your own.

Now when I go away, I always check to see what goodies I can pick up
for next to nothing – it’s a total win for holidaymakers with hoards
of hungry children and it’s also doing your bit to help the planet.

Other travel experts have also revealed the apps they use when going on holiday, including:

  • PackKing and PackPoint both generate packing checklists, which take the stress out of holiday prep
  • American flight attendant Annette Long recommends downloading the airline’s app before flying
  • LoungeBuddy shows users which lounges they are allowed to enter.

I recently went on holiday to the winter sun Spanish resort that’s like “Center Parcs On Sea” – with 24C January temperatures and £15 flights.

Earlier this year, I played Ryanair roulette with our flights to Fuerteventura for my family of five and managed to save £30 just by leaving my booking for a few days

You’ve generally got no idea what you’re going to get, so if you need to plan meals or have fussy eaters, this might not be for youCredit: Catherine Lofthouse

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