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According to the National Resources Defense Council, up to 40% of the food in the United States is never eaten. A lot of factors contribute to that reality: restaurants cook more food than they’re able to sell in a day; grocery stores overstock their shelves to create the appearance of abundance; farmers can’t always sell produce that’s misshapen or ugly. Most of this food ends up in landfills, the NRDC explains, rotting and releasing methane.

In an effort to combat all this food waste, a handful of mobile apps have arisen to connect those with leftover food to those who are willing and eager to eat it. An added bonus, this food typically comes at a steeply discounted price, allowing you to be kind to your wallet, appetite, and the planet at once. While you won’t solve the climate crisis, you’ll at least enjoy a meal with a slightly lower carbon footprint than you otherwise might. Here are five apps to consider.

Imperfect Foods is a weekly grocery delivery service that offers food items at discount prices that have been kept off of shelves due to cosmetic quirks, irregular sizes, or a general surplus. Their grocery offerings include produce, pantry items, dairy, snacks, meat, and fish. There’s no cost to sign up, but you have to pay a $5.99 delivery fee on each order (though orders over $60 ship for free).

Delivery dates are based on your zip code, so making the best use of the service takes some planning, but the company’s commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 may help you feel better about not just ordering from Amazon Pantry. Imperfect Foods is available in 33 states. Check out their coverage map to see if you live in an area of which they service.

Too Good to Go connects users to stores and restaurants that have surplus food at the end of the day. Customers can choose a restaurant from which they will receive a “surprise bag” of excess food at a reduced price, then collect it from the store during a pre-set collection window. This app is a great tool for non-picky eaters who are looking for restaurant-quality meals at a severely discounted price.

I use this app myself, and I find you get the most bang for your buck ordering from pizza places—they’ll typically give you a wide array of slices leftover at the end of their business day. Too Good to Go is located all across the United States, including California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, New York, Maine, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Virginia, as well as several countries in Europe.

Misfits Market is the online value grocer that works directly with farmers and food producers to source produce, meat, seafood, pantry staples, and other groceries that might otherwise go to waste. And they boast of a 40% discount on items compared to most grocery stores. Membership is free, and you place a weekly order during a predetermined three-day shopping window, but each delivery is subject to a $6.99 fee. Misfit Market delivers in 48 states (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii), though you can sign up for their waitlist if they don’t happen to serve your zip code yet.

Hungry Harvest is a great resource for cheaper fruit and vegetable delivery, with no delivery fee on orders over $30. They offer discounted produce in pre-packaged boxes that start at $15, or in customized boxes made up of what you choose. Hungry Harvest currently operates in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan.

Flashfood allows its users to browse deals of up to 50% off at nearby grocery stores. Items for sale at a discounted price will be nearing their expiration dates or “best sell by” dates, meaning the customer should have a plan in mind for how to use their haul quickly before it goes bad (not that those dates really mean much).

Unlike some of the other food waste apps, Flashfood requires their customers to pick up their order from the store instead of offering delivery. The Flashfood app currently serves residents of Kentucky, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, as well as Canadian provinces and territories Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Newfoundland.

 



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