Safeway's frozen shepherd's pie looks like poop.

Or possibly vomit.

“We cooked it exactly like it said on the box,” writes PR.

But sometimes the ugliest of foods can still be tasty. Apparently not so much in this case.

“The yellow part tasted a bit like frothy styrofoam and the meat part wasn’t that bad,” he explains.

This Safeway Select Shepherd’s Pie Tastes As Good As It Looks [Chris Morran/Consumerist]


  1. Why am I not surprised? And what’s with the grill marks on top of what’s supposed to be mashed potatoes (the whole thing baked in the oven)?

  2. I, for one, CAN NOT BELIEVE that Safeway brand food doesn’t live up to expectations. I am SHOCKED! After all, the food always looks like the picture on the front of the box (sez the ex-commercial photographer while laughing loudly).

    1. Actually, Safeway frozen food is mostly pretty good. The mushroom ravioli is solid, and the mexican lasagna is the stoniest of stoner foods.

  3. So what if it looks like poop?  Everything looks like poop after you eat it anyway.  

    That said, “the meat part wasn’t that bad,” might be a good quote for the front of the package, maybe with the image of a kid eating it while being scolded by his mom holding a rolling pin and wagging her finger.

    1.  Because the way food looks is what makes it appetizing, by suppressing this instinct, you are flirting with disaster. 

    1. All part of Weight Watchers stategy to get their customers to lose weight.

      That was simply appalling.

  4. Oh yeah, ALL of the Safeway frozen products look absolutely fucking stunning on the box. Whoever is putting those box designs and pics together is a damn evil genius. Just a few days ago I was considering a box of chocolate cake with a shiny, smooth ganache draped over it ever so lovingly, but then I thought about how every Safeway frozen item I’ve ever bought is just awful. Blech.

    1. I shop in Safeway practically every day. But I never ever eat the Safeway-brand frozen foods. Instead, I pick up proper ingredients to cook myself a fine home-made meal (tonight was chicken breast in a tomato/garlic/ginger/yogurt/almond/nutmeg sauce over basmati rice). That’s actually pretty easy to do from Safeway, in my experience.

  5. That does look pretty unappetizing.

    But if you are in need of frozen food, I highly recommend the Safeway chicken enchiladas.  They’re really good.

  6. There are few frozen meals from any producer that look as good as they do on the box.

    I buy my basic groceries at Safeway about 40% of the time. One of the more pleasant groceries I’ve shopped in; much nicer than the ones I grew up with on the East Coast.

    Never touch their frozen meal stuff, though. And their “Chinese” take-out is loathsome.

  7. Two words: “serving suggestion.” 

    I can’t see the box well enough in the photo to tell whether it’s there, but here in the states, the FTC (IIRC) makes (at least used to make) packaged food makers label their spectacularly optimistic package photos with those words.  Most used the smallest, lowest-contrast font they could find, of course.

    The idea was to dash our ever-hopeful consumer expectations, warning us that what was inside wouldn’t really look anything like the picture – excuse me, the “illustration.” 

    I’ve seen a lot of frozen “food” that barely looked the part, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen it look quite so much like – uh, yeah.  That.

  8. tasted a bit like frothy styrofoam

    My other half has a strange yearning to eat styrofoam. She usually satisfies it with rice cakes. 

  9. There’s no such thing as a beef shepherd’s pie. A shepherd’s pie is made from lamb. They need to rename this cow pie! ;)

    1. Good point, although I think “shepherd’s pie” has become a sort of generic name for any meat/potato pie. And if it was Findus’s it would be “equine delight”.

  10. It’s people. Safeway Shepherds Pie is made out of people. They’re making our food out of people. Next thing they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food. You’ve gotta tell them. You’ve gotta tell them! 

  11. I would have thought that someone would have compiled a video of all the times that Moman tells Thérese that it’s steak, blé ‘dinde, patates in the Québecois satire “La Petite Vie” (Thérese would screw it up, in a different way, once per episode).  Pâté chinois (shepherd’s pie) was once voted the national dish of Québec.

    In the meantime, the blooper reel:

  12. The real question is why are you buying Safeway branded goods and expecting anything different? You disappoint me Mr Doctorow (I’ll assume you have one locally, and that it’s convenient).

    I hate to sound pretentious but if you’re buying own-brand from any of the ‘cheap’ supermarkets (namely Asda and Tesco, ESPECIALLY Asda) – then you’re almost definitely buying shit. It’s that cheap for a very good reason. It’s also where they make all the cuts to be able to offer the ‘lowest prices’.

    If you have to feed a family of 4 on £20 a week, then fair enough – otherwise it’s a saving at the cost of your own pleasure.

    I care about this because even better supermarkets/food shops have joined this ‘offer the cheapest prices game’, and I’ve already seen products I enjoy start to lose quality, all for the sake of a marketing competition and at the expense of suppliers and consumers. So I saved £3, but hated my meal; how does that benefit me?

    /rant over

    1. While I can’t speak on the frozen food front (I hate frozen food), I do buy allot of Safeway branded products. By an large, they are of a higher quality than the name brand at about 2/3 the price. They also tend to include fewer unpronounceable ingredients. 

      1. They may be better than name brands – but most of the name brands aren’t much better to be fair. What are we talking? Findus ? Birdseye is alright I guess, but all the usual stuff, Goodfellas, McCain etc. – it’s pretty much all overpriced crap.

        I’d choose an M&S/Waitrose/similar own brand product over most name brand (although let’s be fair, we’re only talking marginally better, I’m not pretending it’s a whole different world). The same may be the case at Safeway actually, just realised I haven’t been there in what must be 6 years, I could be judging them unfairly – I’m just going on my personal experience.

        The only thing they’re all equally bad at is fruit and veg. Unsurprisingly storing fresh produce in carbon dioxide for 6 months takes its toll. Supermarket veg actually often makes me mad – I’ll be honest.

        Someone put it better than me elsewhere on the internet just yesterday: “It’s a race to the bottom with the only loser being you”. We demand cheaper prices, and that’s what they deliver. By the time everyone realises that they’re buying absolute crap it’ll be too late; we’re not far off as it is.

        / rant apparently not over yet

  13. ‘Safeway Select’, ‘Classic Entree’, ‘Seasoned Ground Beef’

    The holy trinity of appetite triggers.  In one fine serving.  It’s specially chosen, it’s french, and it has salt pepper, and perhaps other ‘mysterious’ seasonings.

    The dining precipice off which one would fall on witnessing the microwaved results must be high, and the drop terrible, and the stop just crushing.

    How?  Why?  Why do they do this?  Bastards.  Recycle them into Fresh Selected Bastard Pie.

  14. Sorry, but I’m calling BS on this one. One local supermarket chain here in D/FW is Tom Thumb,a subsidiary of Safeway, and we buy this product all the time during the colder months of the year. It comes out of the oven looking substantially like the picture on the box (with allowances for “professional food photography”) and dishes out like, well…regular old shepard’s pie with the meat filling below and the potatoes on top. The sample on the plate shown here looks like it was stirred rather vigorously before the picture was taken – and there isn’t a shepard’s pie made that would look pretty after *that* treatment.

    So if you don’t like shepard’s pie, that’s fine – but make sure people know that before casting aspersions on a reasonable, if certainly not gourmet,  product.

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