It’s true, grocery shopping is not my favorite thing to do, but it might be because I’m constantly reading labels, watching for ingredients we have to avoid and trying to come up with meal ideas, which is hard enough, but I have to take food allergies into account while trying to please everyone’s tastes. It’s no easy task. So I’m thankful when I find stores that make it easy to find suitable items for our kitchen!
We live in a small town, which has one a really good health food store (I plan to talk more about that one later), but that’s limited at times, or a bit pricey for certain items, so when Lucky’s Market opened up in Traverse City, within driving distance, I was so excited! I shop at our local Meijer store most often, with certain items coming from Aldi, and I’m thankful that even Meijer is getting better at offering alternatives. But I love it when a store just “gets it.” Like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, which we don’t have anywhere near us, but Lucky’s is just as amazing as the latter two! Here’s a bit of their vision from their website:
At Lucky’s, we love good food. Not just natural and organic food, but the food that’s so much a part of our fondest memories. The good stuff.
It’s just that somehow so much of the good stuff has become really expensive. Sold in stores that act like they’re doing you a big fat favor bringing it to you. And maybe they are, but they shouldn’t act like it. That’s why we started Lucky’s Market.
We believe good food shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a right. If you don’t want to eat things like pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones, you shouldn’t have to. Natural and organic food shouldn’t be priced out of your reach. We also have the crazy notion that we shouldn’t adopt a holier-than-thou attitude if your grandma’s recipe calls for something that doesn’t fit some people’s idea of what’s good for you.
I’ll be honest, we don’t do any kid of major shopping at Lucky’s, mostly due to the distance and because it would require hauling ice chests for cold items, but we go there quite often just to browse, pick up snacks and just enjoy being in the right element for our family’s needs. But if I lived closer, this would be the only place I shop. I love that they make a point to offer local produce and other food products that help our community on a larger scale. They offer a ton of organic products and any alternative brand items that you could ever want. The kids love it there too for the bright colors and the fact that they get to push their own carts around (mostly running into our ankles, reminding me of why my own mom never me let me push the cart). They also have several items available for sampling around the store, which I typically have to avoid with my kids, but there are many there that they can actually enjoy! And it’s the only store nearby where my kids can actually choose a treat at checkout that is 100% safe for them. Something that may seem so trivial, but for us, it’s huge! Places like Lucky’s Market give us a bit of normalcy in a world of consumer products that isn’t tailored our family’s issues in the least bit. It’s a treat for us to visit them.
They have an awesome bakery that uses NO artificial colors, flavors or preservatives with treats and bread galore! Not all are allergy-friendly, but it depends on what you’re looking for. Near the bakery is their deli, which is also a sight to behold! Get your standard meats and cheeses, or stop in for a bite to eat with pre-made sandwiches, a salad bar, sushi or even pizza made right for you on the spot! There’s a space near the front of the store to sit and eat too. I’m sort of obsessed with the whole look and feel of their store because they put a lot of effort into making it a beautiful, visual space. The bakery has whisks for lights and their signage everywhere makes my Graphic Designer heart go pitter-patter! There’s also an in-house juice bar, with fresh-squeezed juices and fresh smoothies. We love taking in the free samples in this section! I also love their health and beauty section, aptly named “Apothecary.” I actually talked about some essential oils I love from here in my last post. So many options and amazing health-conscious brands at awesome prices. Everything in the store is priced very competitively, they offer lots of sales and even have their own Lucky’s brand line of items that is very affordable, all while offering great ingredients and quality products.
The best part though?! There’s a bar, yes, a bar, in the beer and wine section where you can order a pint to drink while you shop! They even have cup holders that attach to the shopping carts. It makes grocery shopping much more bearable! You can fill up a growler while you’re there. They even Kombucha on tap for growlers! We also like to take advantage of all of their bulk items, like candy that’s free of refined sugars and artificial colors! They also offer bulk coffee, spices, nuts and you can even grind your own fresh peanut butter.
If you’re near a Lucky’s, be sure to check it out! It’s worth a stroll and it’s fun for the kids too. There’s only two in the entire state of Michigan, Traverse City and Ann Arbor, but you can find one near you by checking out their store locator. And to make this post a little more ‘useful’ than just photos of store I happen to like, I decided to put together our list of staples that we pick up often for our house of food allergies. We eat a lot of meat, veggies and fruit, without much packaged food because the kids can’t eat most pre-packaged meals. But I’ve got the staples down to a science now with basics and pantry items and I thought it might be interesting for people to see what types of foods are regularly in our home. We buy more than what’s on this list, but this is the bulk of what we pick up to accommodate our two youngest kids’s diets. Our oldest, who is 19, doesn’t have any food allergies. I tried to link up what I could, in the event you want more information, or you can visit my Amazon storefront too, as most of them are linked up there as well (there are affiliate links in this post).
DAIRY (Both kids are STRICTLY non-dairy, but there’s still plenty we grab from this section)
Rice Dream Rice Milk (Enriched Original or Vanilla)
Bolthouse Farms Plant Protein Milk, Original
Ripple Foods Chocolate Milk, Plant-Based (We can’t buy this locally anymore, but can get singles from Amazon)
SO Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative
Daiya Dairy-Free Cheese Shreds
Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread
BOXED, PACKAGED & CANNED GOODS
Organic Canned Peas & Green Beans
Barilla and/or Meijer Brand Noodles
Organic or No Artificial Flavor/Color Applesauce Pouches (Go Go Squeeze, True Goodness by Meijer, Simply Nature by Aldi)
Organic or No Artificial Flavor/Color Fruit Cups – Peaches or Pears (True Goodness from Meijer)
Daiya Dairy & Gluten-Free Cheezy Mac
Organic Canned Tomatoes
Hampton Creek Just Mayo
True Goodness by Meijer Organic Ketchup
Organic Oats (Quick Cook or Steel Cut)
Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cocoa Bunnies (Arlo doesn’t eat these much anymore due to corn, but these are REALLY good!)
Annie’s Homegrown Organic Frosted Oat Flakes (the kids LOVE these!)
Rice Krispies (this is one of our best options for Arlo in regards to corn)
Raisin Bran Crunch
Cinnamon LIFE Cereal (Lark and I love it)
CHIPS & SNACKS
Plain Potato Chips
Tortilla Chips (Tostitos or Simply Nature from Aldi)
Garden Veggie Chips
Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks
Annie’s Organic Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars
MADE GOOD Granola Bars
Enjoy Life Foods Smores Bars
Enjoy Life Foods Sunseed Crunch Bars
Enjoy Life Foods Cocoa Loco Bars (Live GFree from Aldi are the same and I but those as well when I get around to shopping at Aldi)
Stretch Island Fruit Leather (or the Simply Nature Fruit Strips from Aldi)
Chicken Breasts without Antibiotics or Hormones
Organic Hot Dogs
Natural Deli Meat, either packaged (Oscar Mayer) or fresh sliced from the deli
Bob Evans Naturally Sausage
SO Delicious Ice Cream
Natural/Organic Chicken Nuggets
Natural/Organic French Fries
Daiya Dairy-Free Frozen Pizza
Annie’s Organic Frozen Dairy-Free Pizza
BAKERY (We don’t buy a lot from the bakery, due to food allergies)
Sourdough (There’s specific local brand we buy with minimal ingredients)
SPICES & BAKING
Berries (Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry)
So, I still don’t really love grocery shopping, but it’s one of those things we have to get done. I enjoy trips to Lucky’s so much because of the atmosphere and the experience for all of us. I’ve shopped at many stores in my day and having kids with food allergies has really made me have to think more about the foods we buy and eat. I’m not always perfect, by any means, and I make many trips to the grocery store in any given week because I’m not the best at meal planning either (true story), but with a good set of staples, we can usually make some kind of meal happen for dinner! But, you know, you should always take time and stop and smell the roses once in awhile, even if it’s just the fresh ones in the market…and don’t forget your sticker on the way out either!