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Food4Less... Am I Missing Something? [moved from L.A. board]

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Am I just being a snob by not shopping at Food4Less?

Today I got my weekly sales circulars and I noticed that at Ralphs Gala apples were (on sale) for $1.50 a lb. But at Food4Less they were .58 a lb. Other produce was equally as good a buy.

Has anyone shopped there? How is the quality?

(And yes, I go to farmers markets as well, but I also use the supers).

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  1. Finally catching on to Ralphs the ripper, huh!
    You are not alone in this rip.
    If you want Gelsons, Bristol Farms or WFM, then you don't necessarily ask the price, as you know it will be high. Yet oftentimes the produce at the farmer's markets are comparable to those three, not to F4F, Jons, 99Ranch, Vallarta, or similar.
    Quality - each farmer, store, etc. will vary, depending on what the market will pay!

    4 Replies
    1. re: carter

      Carter... You confused me.

      Yes... Ralphs is high priced, but you didn't quite answer my question: How is the quality at F4L? I've been to Jon's and am happy with some of the produce.

      1. re: Jennalynn

        Comparing it to a regular Ralphs - it is the same. Some times their Fresh Fare stores have better produce, yet those stores do not participate in the Tuesday special flyers you get in the mail or in the laTimes, etc.

        1. re: carter

          "Some times their Fresh Fare stores have better produce, yet those stores do not participate in the Tuesday special flyers you get in the mail or in the laTimes, etc."

          All due respect, carter, but from my experience that is an absolute fabrication. As someone who routinely shops at a Fresh Fare store, I feel I can safely say that when an item is included in a Ralphs Tuesday flyer or other general advertisement, the sale price applies at ALL Ralphs locations. Seriously, can you imagine the outrage that would result at any given neighborhood Ralphs Fresh Fare if what carter said was true?

          1. re: Arthur

            I don't know about the Fresh Fare v. Ralphs sales prices, but there are variations in the Tuesday flyer prices for the Ralphs stores depending on which part of Southern CA you are in -- e.g. LA County, Orange County, SB County, etc.

    2. Food4Less is just one of Kroger Co.'s "price impact warehouse stores" whereas Ralphs is one of its "supermarkets." IMO the F4L in Van Nuys (Sherman Way/Hayvenhurst) is hardly any different from the nearest Ralphs (Saticoy/Louise).

      Edit to add: and at F4L you bag your own

      1. I shop there. The produce is good, and for the most part the other items are cheaper.

        1. I shop at FFL in Paso Robles and, tho I hate bagging my own, I find the produce to be almost equal in quality and much less expensive. I also buy meat there (one of the only places I can buy chuck eye steaks!) but rarely buy chicken and NEVER seafood. Dairy/eggs also cheap. Other things, maybe (not a big selection). For me the deal is produce.

          7 Replies
          1. re: dockhl

            Buy produce from a Persian or middle eastern market they have excellent quality and unbeatable prices. Iranians are very very picky about their produce and they are very very price sensitive, not because of economics, bargains are in our genes and we like to keep the green in our jeans.

            1. re: trojans

              i dont shop at food4less that much, but thats only because the nearest one to me is a bit of a drive. but i have shopped there in the past and have found that most of the stuff they sell there is very similar if not the same as ralphs or albertsons. the only difference is the price. if you go there you know why they are able to offer the same products for cheaper. the reason being that you bag your own groceries, the displays are more industrial, the floors are more likely the be older and more warehouse like, the lighting is flourescents, no nice lighting or wood floors, etc. but the key is that you do save money on most items, produce i have found is hit or miss, but then again same with most markets except for the higher end markets like bristol farms, gelsons, etc....

              1. re: trojans

                Okay Trojan... do tell.

                What are the good Persian / Middle Eastern markets in the LA area?

                1. re: Jennalynn

                  Valley Produce on Vanowen just east of Reseda comes to mind.

                  Jon's in Reseda isn't a 'middle eastern' market, but they definitely cater toward that clientele. It's my go-to market; I refuse to pay large chain prices.

                  1. re: jencounter

                    Anything on the other side of the hill?

                    I've done Jon's on La Brea... and the produce selection isn't great. I was at Jon's in Glendale the other day and I loved it. It's just too far for weekly use.

              2. re: dockhl

                Thanks!

                Just the info I was looking for.

                1. re: dockhl

                  On Sunday I saw very ripe looking SLO tomatoes. I didn't get any since I have a ton but they looked really good !

                2. Reading all teh other responses, I feel sort of a stand out saying I have never had good produce there-half the time it rotted in less than a day, was tasteless, or both. The last time I shopped there was years ago, though.

                  Think of them as the "Nordstrom Rack" of Ralph's. The stuff is a notch below Ralph's shelf-quality standards goes to FFL, as do the packaged items that won't move so well.

                  You can find good bargains, but you gotta be wary and take care to do a little more work.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Diana

                    Agree with Diana: I haven't been impressed with FFL. I find the Chinese supermarkets to be better quality, value and selection for produce, meat and seafood... about half... maybe even one-third... the price of the "lower end" supermarkets like Ralph's, Von's or Albertson's.

                    Just finding a close enough Chinese market is the tricky part, but not any less convenient than a FFL; for me, anyway.

                    1. re: chowmominLA

                      I'm between Hancock Park and Koreatown, so I do shop the Korean supermarkets a lot.

                      Their produce is great, but they don't always have everything I need/want.

                    2. re: Diana

                      I haven't noticed an unusually high percentage of rotted produce, but it seems to me that the produce is often smaller than the equivalent at Ralphs (who owns FFL). It isn't sorted thru and rearranged every few hours by the produce man, so it's possible that you are seeing the "rejects" of the boxes. The frozen and packaged items are exactly the same. The main difference other than bag your own and incredibly slow lines, is that there isn't a service deli, seafood counter, etc, although you can order cakes there.

                      My favorite grocery produce source is Superior Super Warehouse. At least in Long Beach, the produce comes from the same distribution point as Bristol
                      Farms and Albertsons. The turnover is huge, and the quality is high. It is a bag your own place.

                    3. There's a fundamental difference in the "retail business model" of FFL, SuperrKing, Jon's, etc., and the "mid-line suburban supermarkets", (Von's/Pavilions/Ralphs/Albertsons) which mirrors, in some way the difference between them, in turn, and Gelsons/Bristol Farms (call 'em the "premium" or "fancy-schmancy" supermarkets). At Gelson's, for instance, when the produce guy comes out with apples, he has a box of the prettiest apples their buyers find at the wholesalers/suppliers; he then removes each apple from its wrap, looks for its best side, as if photographing Heidi's Klum's cheek, and places it, best side out, on the pile. When someone removes some apples, he'll return and restore the symmetry of the pile. If an apple becomes bruised or unsightly, it will be quietly escorted from the pile, much like a drunk teenager at Disneyland.

                      The produce guys at SuperKing often get the boxes of apples which are left after the Gelson's guy gets his, and the Ralphs guy gets his. The apples may not be uniform in size or shape; they'll be smaller; some will not be "pretty" , and some may be unripe, orbruised already. When the stack of apples gets too small, the produce guy comes out with another box of apples, gets through the crowd, yells "apples!", and dumps the box-load on top of the pile, catching those which fall off the pile and restoring them to the pile. He'll then remove any obviously unusable apples, and move on to the next task.

                      There'll be perfectly good apples in the pile at FFL/Superking; question is, is the difference in experience worth $1 a pound to you?

                      1. The quality of the meat, poultry, and YES, the seafood at F4L is every bit as good as Ralph's. Some of the bagged salads are a bit more tired, I've noticed, and the produce a little shabbier sometimes, but I never just grab and bag that stuff without looking anywhere anyway. There's one near me on North Lake in Pasadena, but if I'm over that way I much prefer the one on Figueroa in Highland Park - it's a lot bigger, there's a real butcher/seafood counter, and both staff and clientele much more polite. There's also a taco truck out front that I keep meaning to try...

                        1. I think much depends on the location. My daughter has been to the SLO location which caters to college students and says it is much worse in quality than the Paso Robles one. She was amazed at how decent the produce and meat were. she'd never shop at the SLO one.

                          1. I was once afraid to shop at food 4 less as well, untill i was too lazy to go to another store to get some ground beef. WOW, is was a good quality and a very good price per pound. Out here in Lancaster non of the grocery stores sell skin on salmon except for food 4 less so i get salmon there too, very good quality and fresh.

                            1. I got hooked into Food4Less last year when I was doing a month of eating on $3 a day as an experiment. Now I'm a regular.

                              The produce is as good as any large supermarket chain a significantly less cost ... and I've found some that was above supermarket quality. This summer they had peaches for 48 cents a pound that were very tasty as were the strawberries for $1.25 for a 1lb countainer. They compete favorably in price and quality with the local mercados for things like jalepenos, limes, cilantro. The thing is to watch the weekly circular for what is on sale that week ... some of the produce prices are jaw-dropping low.

                              Also, as someone mentioned, they have Kroegers products which I find are very good and way less expensive than brand names. They have excellent deals on stuff like paper goods without having to do the Costco mega-purchase thing.

                              I don't buy that much meat, and nothing there has tempted me. They are good for supermarket hot dogs and Polish sausage price-wise. The cheese prices don't seem outstanding but are competative.

                              It may be store dependant, but I think a while back I remember someone from LA saying the roast chickens were good. Not all stores carry it though. My local one doesn't (and goods under the name FoodCo. Same ad and items as the Food4Less farther away from me.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: rworange

                                I've been to FFL in the Inland Empire (eww...grew up there) and in the South Bay. They've always been crowded with long lines and only a few checkstand open, and generally dirty. Maybe the LA area ones are better. The fruit is often bruised and in disarray. But it's cheaper...

                                1. re: Pezzy

                                  Funny how different the locations can be. I have fewer people in line than my local Ralphs/Albertsons/Vons and the store is clean, produce is fine, not bruised. Odd that there is not a company standard (I'm glad I got the high end!!!) I love green beans and find them for $2+ in the normal groc store. FFL is half that (maybe not even) and frequently they are locally grown, something I NEVER see in the big stores.

                                  1. re: dockhl

                                    Which is your local FFL?

                                    1. re: Jennalynn

                                      Paso Robles. I've never been to either the Atascadero or SLo ones.