The Best Apps Combating Grocery Store Food Waste

Never throw out sad looking vegetables again.

Everyday, nearly one pound of food is wasted per person in the United States. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all often find ourselves not getting around to baking that apple pie or feeling too lazy to grill the steaks we picked up from the store. Pretty much all of us have thrown out sad looking vegetables after they’ve gone bad in our produce drawer.

While we can all relate to this predicament, it’s not doing any favors for our environment. Groceries that could be used to feed those affected by food insecurity get squandered, methane emissions increase, and landfills are stuffed to the brim.

“We often have very little clue as to what lies in our freezer, fridge, or pantry. When we are out grocery shopping, we often do not have the mental energy to try and recall what food we have at home,” says Kasper Hjortsballe, founder of NoWaste, an app that helps people take inventory of their groceries. “So when we lack certainty about what food we have at home, we risk making decisions that lead to food waste.”

Luckily, these apps are here to prove that you can combat food waste and get a few discounts along the way. Here’s how you can help.

Too Good To Go
Photo courtesy of Too Good To Go

This app partners with local supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, and other establishments to sell leftover food at a discounted price. The company typically sells “surprise bags,” which can range from extra pastries from coffee shops to dairy products reaching their expiration date at grocery stores. It’s as simple as logging onto the app and choosing what leftovers in your area you want to reserve for pickup. There’s also a feature that helps you tailor surprise bag suggestions to your preferences, whether it’s your preferred pick-up times or dietary restrictions.

One of the most heartbreaking realities of food waste is the fact that there are millions of people who don’t have access to food. Food Rescue US delivers surplus groceries right into the hands of those who need it the most. The app has a collection of donors, from grocery stores to restaurants to farmers’ markets—these donors are connected with social service agencies, who then rely on volunteers to rescue the leftover food. Volunteers get matched with donors and agencies in their area to schedule pick-ups and deliveries so everyone has access to fresh, healthy food.

Flashfood App
Flashfood App

Flashfood is a win-win situation: You are helping reduce food waste and also getting your groceries at a discounted price. All you have to do is log onto the app and see which grocery stores near you are participants. The transaction is seamless—pay through the app and head over to the Flashfood zone of your local grocery store to pick up your order. This also helps with grocers themselves, as they are able to recoup the costs that would have come with not being able to sell excess products.

NoWaste is here to help you get your life together. We have all grabbed a kombucha we don’t need in the checkout line or picked up one too many onions. With NoWaste, you can easily create an inventory of everything you have in your freezer, fridge, and pantry. You can sort your groceries however you want on the app (alphabetically, by expiration date), as well as synchronize and share grocery lists with family members or housemates. Once your food is eaten or expired, you mark it in the app, so over time, you can monitor your monthly food waste and your savings. There’s a barcode scanner as well that makes adding items especially easy.

Imperfect Foods
Imperfect Foods

Because grocery stores want to have their shiniest and most attractive products on display, deformed (but still delicious!) products go to waste. Imperfect Foods delivers groceries that are typically overlooked in stores due to their appearance—think strangely shaped apples or scarred carrots. The brand also sells products that are approaching their “best-by” date so they don’t get thrown out prematurely. The app makes being sustainable easy by filling your cart with suggestions and seasonal items (which you can add to or remove). To use as little emissions as possible, Imperfect Foods delivers on the same day every week depending on where you live.

Operating similarly to Facebook Marketplace, Olio encourages everyone to get involved. Are there bushels of old bananas taking up space in your kitchen? The carbon negative company helps you eradicate any guilt by letting users post photos of any leftover food they have, along with a description and when and where to pick it up. There’s even a private messaging feature so users can communicate with each other.

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Kelsey Allen is an editorial assistant at Thrillist.