Food and Drink

The Best Apps Combatting Grocery Store Food Waste

Never throw out sad looking vegetables again.

Food Rescue US
Food Rescue US
Food Rescue US

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 favours 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

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.

Food Rescue US

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 App

Flashfood

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

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
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.

Olio

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.

Food and Drink

Why Makrut Lime Makes a Star Ingredient in Cocktails

The Southeast Asian citrus is intensely aromatic and pairs with rum, gin, tequila, and more.

Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks

I grew up with a makrut lime tree in my backyard, admiring the double leaves and dimpled citrus fruit that frequently made their way into our family dinners. Makrut limes, which are sometimes referred to kaffir limes (although the term is controversial and has been widely retired), are native to Southeast Asia, but somehow my mom willed a tree to grow in our Southern California home with great success.

To me, makrut meant savoury Thai food: steamed fish curry wrapped in banana leaves and sprinkled with chiffonade makrut, simmering tom kha gai with floating bits of the hand-torn citrus leaves, and glistening green curry accentuated by the plant’s aroma.

But to others, makrut is an ideal ingredient in cocktails and other drinks. Such is the case for Fish Cheeks, a Thai restaurant in Manhattan known for its seafood dishes and eclectic, complementary cocktail menu. Beverage director Beau Fontano knew he had to include makrut in his creations, especially because the ingredient is so prominent on the food menu. Makrut lime finds its way in several drinks, most notably as a garnish atop the Thank You Kha, a riff on the acidic coconut stew tom kha gai, and the Manao Mao, a rum-based drink that uses makrut lime bitters.

“I don’t love using the word tiki, but if you think of those tiki rum cocktails, makrut definitely works well in those,” Fontano says. “But I also love it in martinis-there’s something really clean about it. And with makrut lime, if you’re just using the leaves, you can do a lot of rapid infusions.”

Fontano only uses the leaves, because the rinds and juice of makrut limes are famously bitter. “Regular lime has a little bit more sugar content, so that’s why it’s much more approachable in cocktails. Makrut limes tend to be more dry,” he explains. “But when you use the leaves in cocktails, you just smack it to wake it up a little bit and it gets that nice citrusy, refreshing aroma which is really fun.”

The leaves are cut fresh, so each drink has the scent of makrut lime leaves wafting off of them. “I’m sure at one point I will get around to it and try to figure out how to use the juice,” he laughs.

Further north at Paper Tiger in Portland, Maine, makrut lime leaves are also prevalent in a cocktail called Something Scandalous, a tequila-based drink intended to be, in the words of bartender Nick Reevy, “crushed easily.”

Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger

“I went with tequila, specifically, because in Maine it’s 80 degrees and humid pretty much all summer,” Reevy explains. “So I made something you kick back easily. Agave has a really nice softness that elevates the makrut lime, and the main flavour in that drink is the Thai basil.”

The drink is an alluring shade of green and is rounded out by cinnamon syrup and falernum. “Makrut lime is really herbal and bright in a way no other citrus is,” Reevy adds. “It’s interchangeable with other limes, but it just adds this whole other depth of flavour.”Makrut lime has even made its way into hard seltzer, albeit a limited edition drop from Lunar. Founder Kevin Wong knew he wanted to add another citrus drink to his rotation as he witnessed the successes of hard lemonades, but already had a yuzu iteration. Makrut lime seemed like a natural follow-up.

Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar

“It has a very intense citrus fragrance, almost perfumey or soapy,” Wong ponders. “Like I could see Le Labo putting out a makrut lime fragrance. It has such a commanding presence and body.”

To tamper down some of the boldness of the makrut lime, the hard seltzer uses makrut lime leaf extract, lime juice, and cane sugar. The aromatics of the lime are present without too much bitterness; instead, the seltzer is grassy, acidic, and dry. Wong recommends pairing the can with spicy foods, especially Szechuan dry pot.

The makrut lime seltzer is currently sold out, and Wong is unsure whether or not another batch is in the works. “I feel like makrut lime is the greatest secret unknown to the Western world,” he says. “It’s in medicine, candy, herbal drinks, cosmetics and aromatherapy. I think we did the seltzer too early, and I don’t know if the world is ready for us to bring it back yet. Maybe in a couple of years.”

But judging by the growing popularity of makrut lime in beverage menus, the comeback might be sooner than he expects.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.

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