Best apps to help you cut food waste

From community food sharing or family meal planning to buying a ‘Magic Bag’ of leftover food from your favourite café – read our round-up of the best food waste apps and resources.

Food wasteNo Time to Waste. This article is part of a joint campaign by Riverford and Wicked Leeks to help people cut food waste and raise awareness.

With awareness growing rapidly around the importance of reducing food waste, sometimes we get stuck on how to actually do it. Luckily, there are now an array of apps and online resources that can help.  

That said, it is still early days for food sharing apps in particular, and some definitely work better in urban areas, whereas rural areas are more of a challenge as there is a lower population density and lower take-up on the apps. It’s unlikely you’ll want to drive 10 miles for a free pack of jasmine rice! 

To help you navigate, we tried and tested some of the most well-known, and compiled a list of some of the most useful:

For sharing surplus food 

OLIO. This free food sharing app lists surplus items that you want to give away rather than throw – for example spare homegrown veg, or the unused items in your fridge just before you go away. Offer it on OLIO and someone local will come and collect – this can still be done safely during lockdown, with helpful guidelines for socially distant food sharing. OLIO has a better range in London although it’s available across the UK – on signing up in south Devon, we found a few options, the most appealing being sharing of water kefir grains, a great way to share those fermented foods that keep on growing like sourdough starters or kombucha. Top tip: check the app regularly as things go quickly! Find out more here

OLIO connects people giving away food with others in the community. 

For those who love to bag a bargain 

Too Good To Go finds a home for all the fresh food that would go to waste at cafes, restaurants, and shops just because it hasn’t sold in time. Order and collect a reduced price ‘Magic Bag’ of food that would otherwise be thrown away. You won’t know exactly what’s in your order until you pick it up, but by choosing the restaurant or eatery wisely you will have an idea of the type of produce in there (patisseries seem to get rave reviews from those who have tried a Magic Bag). An impressive 9,396 businesses are using it, with 3.3 million Magic Bags sold so far. Free to download here

Working in a similar way, Karma also lets you eat out on a budget and protect the planet. Currently only available in London, you can download the Karma app here

Karma helps London residents cut food waste and eat out on a budget. 

For meal planning  

No Waste is a great tool to organise and manage the food in your home. With handy inventory lists for your freezer, fridge, and pantry it lets you quickly see and search for what’s in stock. A menu planner helps you use food up in time and avoid buying duplicates when you shop. Share lists and meal plans with your household, and easily track food waste to help you make future savings. You can download it for free here.  

Similarly, the AnyList app keeps a record of what you have and adds items to various shopping lists as they are used up. It lets you save recipes, and easily shop for the ingredients too. Again, you can share lists and download it for free – click here to try. 

PlanToEat is a subscription app (free 30-day trial) but has been recommended by users as great for busy families. It stores your favourite recipes and generates a shopping list automatically. Designed to make eating at home easier, recipes online can be quickly imported by copying and pasting the link. To find out more, click here. 

Food waste can be tackled at a community and household level. Image OLIO.

For inspiration 

There is so much to ignite your enthusiasm around wasting less and enjoying more online. Real food activist and sustainability champion Melissa Hemsley creates adaptable recipes that always taste great with minimal waste. Explore her website for free, feel good recipes from her latest book Eat Green, and for lots of inspiration on Instagram check out @melissa.hemsley.  

Max La Manna is an award-winning chef and author of More Plants Less Waste, whose simple, delicious recipes are designed to make the most of your veg. With fresh versions of favourite dishes, from loaded vegan nachos to baked mac’n’cheese, the recipes are really big on flavour but with much less waste. Take a look and try out some of his recipes here. 


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