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Jan 18, 2007 01:25 AM

Safeway - Rancher's Reserve - my opinion (reactions?)

I was at Safeway picking up a prescription yesterday - looked around for a couple things to make dinner - I rarely shop there because I find them overpriced as a rule (plus I'm still ticked from multi times not finding sale items there until I FINALLY caught on that their sale flyer changed over on Tuesdays (wha?)

Anyway, looked in the meat case and there was this lovely lean sirloin, 4 "Ranchers Reserve" sirloin steaks about a pound each and maybe 1 1/2" thick @ $1.99/lb. Hadda get 'em and change dinner plans.

See, where else do they sell THICK-cut steaks (no, I'm not paying Giant's "gourmet butcher counter" prices and I just don't want to drive half across the county to get to a proper butcher).

The result: very tender indeed cooked nice and rare. I've heard people disparage Rancher's Reserve - certainly you could get better at a butcher and more flavorful cuts than sirloin - but I thought I'd report on a lucky find and a pleasant surprise.

Any reactions? Your experiences?

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  1. Last time I had Safeway's Rancher's Reserve, they probably should have reserved it for ranchers only. Meat was tougher than leather, and not much flavor. One good thing about this brand is that you can supposedly return it if dissatisfied, but I did not. To me, Safeway is only good for the Sabrett's hot dogs that they carry.

    On a side note, you can get very thick cut rib-eye steaks at Costco. I've seen them as thick as maybe 2 inches. Price about $8/lb.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Sometimes you get lucky. I have too with Ranchers Reserve.
        Our local Safeway has gone Yuppie and now has a fancy meat counter. The guys told me that they do special trims of the Ranchers Reserve for the display cases. Extra thick - like the ones you got probably. At the end of the day, they wrap them up and put them in the regular cases. But they're the same price in the regular case and in the fancy display. So now I just go to the fancy yuppie display. Same price. And when they have something on sale it can be a good deal - depending on what it is.
        Just before Christmas they had prime rib for $4.99. I took a chance for a Tuesday night dinner and, surprise!, it was really good. Got a London Broil on sale for $1.99. Good piece of meat. I've gotten some tasty sirloins and some good pot roasts. All on sale, all well cut and trimmed properly.
        No. I don't usually buy my meat at Safeway. I go to a real butcher. But if I happen to be there and they have something on sale, I look at the yuppie display.
        So far it's been worth my while.

        1. I do notice that Safeway quality does greatly vary from store to store. Here in McLean, we have 2 Safeways. One has been renovated and does seem to have very good quality. The other is a bit run down and their quality in the meats is not as nice the the other Safeway.

          13 Replies
          1. re: rcheng

            There are two near me, both have been renovated, but the meat dept in one is severely lacking still, while the other is fairly full service and fairly good quality.

            As for the Wed-Tues sales, that's actually a national standard, at least for chains. Cueing in on sales is a bit easier once you know that.

            1. re: Dennis S

              >>>As for the Wed-Tues sales, that's actually a national standard, at least for chains. Cueing in on sales is a bit easier once you know that.<<<

              And did anyone think it's just a coincidence so many newspapers have their food sections on Wednesday, and have those supermarket inserts and full-page ads on that day each week??? Hmmm.

              BTW it's not just national chains. For example, Sniders in Silver Spring has done its weekly specials mostly on a Wednesday-Tuesday cycle for years. IIRC Magruders does the same thing but I'm not too sure about that one.

              1. re: johnb

                In the SF Bay Area, the supermarket circulars are sent with the Tuesday paper.

                1. re: Humbucker

                  Same here in SoCal, and pretty much everywhere. The circular comes out on Tuesday, but most sales start on Wednesday...and gosh-darned if Wednesday's food section doesn't have recipes for something that JUST HAPPENS to be on sale at MegaGrocers! What a coincidence...though I must say that these "coincidences" were much more common in Nashville than here.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    My aunt's ex-husband used to run a business that coordinated all of the sales for many large chains. I think they may have even acted as a broker of sorts btwn suppliers and the stores. You'll notice that even btwn stores, many of the same things are on sale. The stores all get those deals and make their minor modifications to those. Stores that run other schedules are either shouldering that shift themselves or carrying different lines (I could see Trader Joes, for instance, being in that group).

              2. re: Dennis S

                It depends upon the chain. Some exceptions to the standard you posted:

                Giant's sales run from Friday to Thursday.

                Wegman's run from Sunday to Saturday.

                Shopper's run from Saturday to Friday.

                1. re: Lori D

                  In Boston, both major chains (Star Market/Shaws and Stop&Shop) run their sales Friday-Thursday.

              3. re: rcheng

                I cant under stand why people dont under stand,that if it isnt stamped on the package USDA choice or USDA prime Then there selling you some other inferior grade of meat. AND YES IM SURE IF YOU FOR 3OR 4 HRS. YOU COULD TURN IT INTO POTROAST YOU CAN GRIND IT A HAMBURGER MACHINEOR BEAT TO DEATH WITH A MEAT MALLET ORUSE YOURE jACARD MEAT TENDERISER AND MAKE CUBE STEAKS BUT THATS ABOUT AS CLOSE TO STEAK AS YOURE GOING TO GET FROM ranchers reserve

                1. re: michael1755

                  Michael, - I couldn't agree more! Safeway's Rancher Reserve is nothing more than a fancy name for "Select Grade Beef". What bothers me most is that the employees have been told how to address customers concerns/questions regarding this inferior (to USDA Choice) brand.

                  And, who wants to make a special trip back "to return it"?

                  As I do not care to shop their yuppy goumet counter and pay top dollar, I quit shopping Safeway. I can still shop QFC, in the Seattle area of WA State and purchase USDA Choice for a little more than what Safeway charges for their lesser quality beef. (I did try R.R.twice; DID NOT CARE FOR THE RESULTS.) Unfortunately, our options for buying USDA Choice are getting slimmer all the time.

                  I don't believe today's younger generation really knows what top quality beef really tastes like. Or, maybe they are just use to marinating it for 3-4 days to make it tender and mask the true flavor of the meat. Obviously, prices play a role too; but, don't care to be lied to when employees try to tell me it is REALLY "USDA CHOICE", WHEN THERE IS NO LABLE STATING SUCH.

                  Here in the Pacific Northwest, it was first Albertson's who went to Select in their regular meat case; then Safeway and Fred Meyers. Only a few stores remain that offer USDA Choice in their regular meat case. My favorite qualify grocer is QFC where I can still depend on finding quality meat at slightly above the price of Select grade meat.

                  1. re: shasta21

                    If you want Choice and nothing but (well, except Prime if you want it) all you have to do is go to Costco. And it's generally half the price of QFC, although QFC does have some great sales from time to time.

                    1. re: shasta21

                      FWIW, in Chicago, our Safeway's child co is called Dominick's. They offer Rancher's Reserve as well, but a few years ago, maybe 3 or so, the switched from all select grade to all choice grade. When they put their restaurant cut, choice grade top sirloin on sale for 2.99 lb, it's one of the best steak values I've ever come across. I've no doubt that in other parts of the country, Safeway is selling select grade as their RR, but in Chicago, it's Choice grade. I still buy better cuts elsewhere, but those choice grade RR top sirloins are an absolute steal.

                      1. re: gordeaux

                        Maybe Safeway is doing an experiment to see if it makes any difference in their bottom line. It sounds like it was about this time frame (3-4 years ago) that Safeway decided to drop carrying USDA Choice in their regular meat case in the Seattle area.

                        Are consumers buying into accepting "Select" grade, aka Rancher's Rreserve? After all, it costs a store a lot more to offer USDA Choice. And, even IF they sometimes throw in "yesterday's steak" into their regular meat display, I don't care to take a chance on WHICH ONE (Select or Choice) it may be.

                        All in all, I'm hoping that Safeway will return to offering USDA "CHOICE" in their regular meat case, here in the Seattle area, and I will return to shopping there.

                        1. re: shasta21

                          I'm really not sure what caused the switch here. I do know, however, that there are a lot of choices for grocery stores here, and it seems like the average shopper would simply buy steaks from the MAJOR stores (Safeway and Kroger - which here, are named Dominick's and Jewel, respectively.) Those two major marketshare stores in the area both sold only select grade beef at insane prices. All of the other smaller chains either only sold choice grade, or offered choice and select grade. Usually the smaller stores' choice grade was cheaper than the major chain select grade (figure THAT one out! I've never been able to except for the fact that, well, some ppl might not know the difference.) I have a suspicion that Dominick's and Jewel started losing market share to the smaller chains, and the smaller chains were growing in numbers and sizes. The smaller chains also offered far superior prices for produce. All of the sudden, one day, out of the blue, a few years ago, Safeway started advertising their Rancher's Reserve with USDA CHOICE stamped proudly on the front, and their prices were mildly competitive to the smaller chains.

                          Either way, I still hear from my father that steak these days doesn't have the flavor, or the marbling it used to back in the day. He says today's "choice" is yesterday's select.

                2. The original comment has been removed