It’s estimated that the typical American family wastes $1,800 worth of food each year due to food waste. This is equivalent to throwing away 40% of the food they’ve purchased. Due to the energy and resources, it takes to grow, harvest, process, and export food, you can imagine what a huge waste this is. On top of that, this food ends up decomposing in landfills, which produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

There are many reasons that lead to food waste in homes, such as overbuying, improper cooking, not paying attention to expiration dates, and a lack of knowledge when it comes to food storage. Luckily, there are workarounds that can help prevent wasted food and ensure we help to preserve our environment in the process.

Planning meals ahead with cooking apps on our favorite Android phones, making a shopping list of items you need and will use up, all while finding ways to repurpose leftovers, are just a few things you and your family can do. The good news is that the use of these applications will make the prevention of food waste not only a possibility but a reality.


Too Good To Go

You’ve likely heard about mystery boxes from online stores like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart; you never know what you’ll find inside each one. This app has the same concept, except instead of a mystery box, you can purchase a “Surprise Bag” filled with surplus food items from local stores, restaurants, and cafes. Since these places have no way of knowing what they’ll have left over at the end of the day, each bag will always be a mystery. So, you won’t be able to see what it will contain; however, that’s part of the fun!

In the app, you can enter your city or use your current location to find participating locations in your area (up to a 20-mile radius). If you’re lucky enough to have participating stores nearby, you can browse and learn more about each. For each participating store, you can a rating (based on a 5-star scale), location, the rate per bag, and anything important you may need to know (e.g., whether you need to bring a carry bag or not). Stores can also be added to your favorites for easy access.

Once you’ve decided on a location, you can choose how many bags you’d like (quantities will vary per store) and reserve a time slot for pickup. Upon making a reservation, you’ll also need to pay through the app (payments cannot be made in-store). In addition to using credit cards, you can also pay via PayPal and Google Pay. Too Good To Go services customers in the U.S. and 16 other countries, including Canada, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.

Fridge Night

If you’re looking for a way to get the family excited about tackling food waste, you will love Fridge Night! This app gives you a mission. If you choose to accept it, you’re guaranteed to save money, waste less food, and help reduce C02 emissions. Here’s how it works: one night a week for four weeks, grab whatever food you have available in your kitchen and use it up in a delicious meal. That’s it! You can choose your weekly fridge night date, and the app will send you reminders to stay on track.

Fridge Night is with you every step of the way; you’ll start by calculating your current waste (logging all disposed of food for the last week) and end with an extravagant celebration meal made with leftovers and items close to their expiration date. Best of all, the app provides flexible recipes for you (known as “flexipes”), so you don’t have to look elsewhere. Just type in an ingredient, and it will show you delicious meal options.

Each recipe follows the 3+1 cooking approach, which allows you to choose a base, fruits or veggies, a protein, and a magic touch (condiment). In addition, most recipes will give you a few options for each step. Since this app is all about decreasing food waste, it’s also recommended that you switch up any ingredients you don’t have on hand. Lastly, for your participation, you will also earn points, win trophies, and unlock redeemable prizes. Who doesn’t love goodies?


With this ad-supported app, you can donate food and other items so that they don’t go to waste, as well as request items you’re in need of. Since it was founded, Geev has helped offer a second chance to approximately 9 million different items, and it has more than 2.8 million users all over the world, including in France and Canada. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any users in my local area. However, it’s definitely worth trying out (particularly if you are in Europe) to see if you have better results.

There’s a tab specifically for food listings where you can see available donations and requests for specific items. Geev’s impressive features include in-app chat for communication, a smart search with filters, a thorough map for viewing available donations, and the ability to add listings to your favorites. When viewing listings, you can see information about items such as a description, expiration date, and distance from your current location. It will also show the poster’s availability so that you can schedule a convenient pickup time.

Bananas are a single-use credit that can be used within the app to contact users. Every new user starts with 20 bananas. You’ll lose one banana when you contact someone about an item; however, you’ll gain two bananas when you donate an item to someone else. You can also purchase more bananas as needed. While using Geev is free, you can upgrade to Geev+ or Geev Unlimited for a monthly, biannual, or annual subscription fee to remove advertisements, contact other users without using bananas, get exclusive access to listings, and more.


This app is here to help you find free food in your area for yourself or someone you know. To get started, enter a US-based zip code or use your current location to see a map of all free food resources nearby. You’ll then see a map with red pins indicating food pantries available to help those in need.

First, tap a pin and then tap the location name at the bottom of the screen to see more information about it. The details page provides all pertinent information, such as the address, phone number, website, email address, contact person, hours of operation, services, languages spoken, and requirements (e.g., an ID or an appointment is required).

Most of the information under the Contacts section is actionable. So, you can tap the address to automatically open the location on Google Maps, tap the phone number to call, tap the website to open it in a web browser, and tap the email to create a new message in your email app. If any of the information is out-of-date, there’s a button available to suggest an edit.


Similar to Too Good To Go, Phenix lets you purchase “Surprise Baskets” from local retailers to rescue unsold food. You can search for participating shops using your current location or by manually entering a location (address, city, or country). While there’s no way to know the basket contents ahead of time, you can get a good idea of what each one contains based on the shop. For instance, a butcher isn’t going to have vegetable baskets. Stores can be added to your favorites, and you can enable alerts to be notified when a new basket is available.

Filters can narrow down the results by basket type, special diets, payment methods, pick-up hours, and more. For example, you may be looking for a bread basket, or maybe you’re a vegan who also avoids gluten. When viewing a shop, you can see its location, operation hours, and earned badges (e.g., Outstanding Quality). Shops may have more than one basket type available for ordering, and you can choose your desired quantity. When ready, you can order right from the app and will be given a time slot for pickup.

Phenix also has a loyalty program where you can earn points for purchasing baskets and referring friends. You can then use these points to receive discounts on future purchases. The app currently has just nine countries listed on the sign-up page: France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Hong Kong, Luxemburg, Germany, and the Netherlands. While there is also an “Other” option available, participating shops in the United States and other areas are a bit scarce.


How many items have you had to throw away because they were past their expiration or best-buy date? Unfortunately, this is almost impossible to avoid if you aren’t checking all of your perishable items regularly. Thankfully, Nosh keeps an inventory of all your food items so you can stay up-to-date on their expiry, use-by, and best-before dates. This process may be time-consuming at first; however, it ensures you use items before they expire, thus helping you reduce waste and save money.

Along with tracking your buying and wasting habits, which you can visualize with the weekly analytics feature, you can create a shopping list and get recipe suggestions within the app. Best of all, when searching for recipes, you can choose to use items from your inventory. There are three ways to add items to your inventory: scanning receipts, scanning barcodes, and manually typing them in. For each item, you can also select where it’s stored (fridge, freezer, pantry), the quantity, and the expiry date.

A picture is often automatically added when scanning items, but you can manually add one or change it if needed. When manually adding items, you can tap to add an image from your device gallery or use the camera to take a picture on-the-spot. Managing your inventory is quick and convenient; you can edit, delete, and add items to your shopping list if you need to pick up more. The Expired section in the app will let you know if you need to dispose of any items. Hopefully, with the help of this app, that section will stay empty.


Did you know that grocery stores often discount items nearing their best-by date since they can’t be sold after that date? The only problem with this is that there’s no way of knowing when these deals are available. That’s where Flashfood steps in. The app will show you nearby grocery stores with discounts on older food items using your location. Not only does this help you save money, but the grocery stores will have less unsold food to throw away.

Flashfood is partnered with 22 stores in the United States and Canada, including Giant, Meijer, Family Fare, Food Lion, Martin’s, and Stop & Shop. So if you don’t have any participating stores in your area, you’re out of luck. However, if you sign up on the Flashfood website, they will notify you when new locations are added near you. For each location, you can see all available items at a discount, along with their best-by-date. In addition, items can be added to the shopping cart and purchased from the app. Then, you can pick them up from the “Flashfood Zone” (usually near the customer service desk) at any time of the day.

Items that you haven’t picked up yet and are still available will show in the Pickups section of the app. The Receipts section lets you view all past purchases, including picked-up items and missed pick-ups. Lastly, Flashfood allows you to add your store loyalty cards; however, you can’t collect points from your purchases through the app. Instead, they use your purchase history to tailor the items they recommend to you.


If you’re in Finland, Sweden, Poland, Estonia, or Germany, this app helps stop food from going to waste at local restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and hotels. You can either use your current location or shop for food venues in the app to find deals on surplus food. ResQ partners with available offers will show as green circles on the map, while those without available offers will display as grey circles.

You can select one or more offers and purchase right from the app using debit, credit, MobilePay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal. The pickup timeframe will be available in the offer details, and at the venue, you’ll need to show your receipt from the app (or email) to confirm your order. In addition, you can purchase ResQ credits for yourself or as a gift for in-app purchases. You can also earn credits for inviting friends to the app.

The app has smart deal notifications that can be enabled and disabled at will. In the app’s settings, you can select any special diet you’re on to receive notifications for matching offers. Similarly, venues can be marked as favorites so that you won’t miss any deals from them. You can enable notifications for any new offers within a certain radius (up to 50 km) of your current location.


Having to throw away expired food is never fun; you’re literally throwing your money in the trash can. What if you could share those soon-to-be expired items with someone else instead of wasting them? That’s what OLIO is all about. It helps you connect with neighbors and local businesses who are either giving away surplus food or interested in taking yours. Upon joining, you’ll need to set your home location; this will show you all other users in your area.

Selecting an available item will display its details and approximate location. Then, if interested, you can tap the “Request this” button to contact the user and make arrangements to pick it up via the private messaging system. The map will also show you what’s available but includes more precise locations. However, you’ll need to become an OLIO supporter to see the listings here. An OLIO subscription costs $2.99 a month or $16.99 a year and even unlocks a special Supporter profile.

Posting food you’d like to give away is pretty straightforward. Along with a title, description, and quantity, you can add up to 10 images, set a specific pick-up time, choose how long your listing will remain active, and when to post it as available (immediately or after a certain number of hours). Not only is this a great way to reduce waste, but it also lets you connect with your neighbors.


If you’re looking to become a better cook and find new recipes while tackling food waste, this app may be just what you’re looking for because it does all of the work for you. It features “Smarter Recipe Packs” that guarantee you’ll use all the ingredients you purchase, which means no food waste. Plus, it has a meal planner that helps you organize and schedule your meals for the week. Each Smarter Recipe Pack contains three recipes and one food shopping list with fresh ingredients, making it a breeze to whip up healthy, inexpensive meals for the entire family while ensuring less food ends up in the trash.

When setting up the app, you’ll need to provide a little information about your household, such as the number of people you cook for and how often you cook. From there, the app will calculate how much food waste it can reduce for you. Next, you’ll need to choose what’s most important to you when cooking: budget, one pot/tray, easy wins, or speed. Finally, it offers a few dietary options: vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and “I eat everything.” The app will then recommend some Smarter Recipe Packs that you can save for later or add to your weekly meal plan; there are over 100 available.

Additionally, Sidekick lets you create and save shopping lists, and it can automatically generate shopping lists based on the recipes you’ve selected. Another way the app helps reduce food waste is by providing freshness alerts for food items. To keep ingredients and groceries fresh, you’ll be reminded to check use-by dates, and you can also reschedule a dish to earlier in the week if needed. Sidekick is only free for 30 days. So if you enjoy the app, you’ll need to subscribe monthly or yearly to continue using it.

Your Food

Similar to Nosh, this app keeps an inventory of the perishable items in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. This is done by creating lists for each category or area of your home you want to keep track of. For each list, you can add an icon and choose how the items on the list are sorted (by name, quantity, or expiration date). You’ll need to add items to your list manually, which can be time-consuming; a barcode scanner isn’t included in the app.

When adding items, you can select an icon to represent the item and enter the name, expiration date, quality, and price. Visually, you’ll be able to see which items on your list are close to or already past their expiration date. If you’re running low on an item, you can conveniently add it to the shopping list within the app. Then, while shopping, you can keep track of items you add to your grocery cart or remove an item if you change your mind.

In the app’s Settings, you can set up reminders for product expiration dates to ensure you use them before they go bad. There are three types of notifications: first warning, second warning, and spoiled (this is one you’ll hopefully avoid by using this app). One thing that makes Your Food stand out from the rest is its colorful design. A student created this app in their spare time, and you can tell that a lot of effort went into the layout and icons.

Imperfect Foods

This app reduces food waste and helps you with your grocery shopping. After telling Imperfect Foods a little about yourself, they’ll create a custom box of groceries each week and deliver it to you if you’re in a participating zip code. Your box will be filled with flawed produce, surprise food items, and more. So, it’s a subscription box that saves time, money, and the environment. You can even choose to skip a week as needed.

When customizing your box, you can choose the type of produce you’d like to receive, your dietary preference, and the variety of food items you want. In addition, you get to decide the day of the week for each delivery. They’ll also give you a weekly shopping window where you can edit your cart to add more items and remove unwanted items found in their catalog.

Finally, you’ll be given a weekly estimate, including a delivery fee (orders over $60 ship for free). Only then will you be able to create an account, but you won’t be charged until your shopping window closes. Imperfect Foods does its own deliveries with just one van per area. Best of all, they’ll deliver to your entire neighborhood in one trip to reduce trips and harmful C02 emissions. They even go a step further by taking your packaging back with them, allowing them to reuse and recycle it.

It’s time to take action!

Food waste reduction should be a shared priority for everyone. Not only are we literally throwing money in the trash, but we’re also ruining the planet we live on. Purchasing surplus food items, using leftovers in creative ways, and sharing food you don’t plan on using before it expires are all steps in the right direction that will make a world of a difference for future generations. How do you plan to change your routine to reduce food waste at home?

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