Keeping Cool with Ice Cream: How to Save, What to Buy (Part 1)

July 24th, 2010

It’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked. “If  I can’t afford to buy everything organic, what should I buy organic?” My response:  it depends on what you eat most often.

And in summer, when I declare ice cream “the divine right of children,” ice cream becomes a basic food group. (Particularly on days like today, when my car’s therometer hit 106 degrees.)

Boo with Aldens Organic Ice Cream Con

But the $5.69 price tag on a half gallon of organic ice cream can cause the most devoted organic fan to pause. I wondered if I was really spending my money wisely, so I decided to take a closer look at the prices and ingredients of some popular ice cream brands.

My neighbor is a big fan of Edy’s. It’s what she served at a recent Cub Scout picnic (you remember –  the one where the parents covertly drank wine from water bottles). I wondered if I was a fool for shelling out $5.69 for Alden’s organic ice cream, when the kids seemed perfectly happy with the $2.69 per gallon Edy’s (And they do have a really cool spumanti flavor). So I took a closer look at Edy’s ice cream ingredients, and in addition to  the usual milk, cream, and sugar,  here’s what I found:

Ick. Corn syrup’s bad enough, but artificial flavors and trans-fats are on nearly every Mom’s “avoid” list – organic fanatic or not.

And think about it. That’s just what they’re required by law to list. No where will you see that the milk came from cows treated with hormones or the corn from pesticide laden fields – we can just infer that, because it’s not organic.

When I went to Edy’s web site to double check the ingredients list, I found another fun fact: Edy’s (along with Dreyer’s) is owned by Nestle, a company whose products many of us try to avoid.

What’s in the organic ice cream I love? Nothing I can’t pronounce. Just simple, wholesome ingredients that are organic – which means there’s no hormones, no pesticides, and no Genetically Modified Organisms.

And a bonus discovery was learning that instead of being owned by a controversial global conglomerate, Alden’s is family owned. It’s part of the Oregon Ice Cream Company, which has been making ice cream for 80 years.

Now here’s the really good news. When I was at Whole Foods River Road in Bethesda on Friday, Aiden’s was on sale for $5.19 a gallon, until July 27th. So now’s the time to try.

Alden's organic ice cream on sale at Whole Foods

Alden's organic ice cream on sale at Whole Foods

Of course I’m not a total zealot. My kids buy ice cream from the Good Humor man. And I do buy other brands of ice cream from time to time. But let’s talk about that in my next post, when we’ll look at how organic ice cream stacks up to my childhood favorite, Breyer’s, and cult favorite Ben and Jerry’s.

Stack em up: Alden's Organic vs. Breyer's All Natural vs. Ben & Jerry's rGBH free ice cream

Stack em up: Alden's Organic vs. Breyer's All Natural vs. Ben & Jerry's rGBH free ice cream

Meanwhile, stay cool in this heat wave!

– Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Disclosures: I am one of those endangered species of bloggers that actually blogs about things I buy with my own money. No one sent me ice cream. A PR rep didn’t pitch this story.   I’m not consulting for any of these companies. I just love ice cream, love organics, and love blogging about both and thought I’d share with you!

Saving Money Through Green Means (My Top 20 Tips!)

November 18th, 2009

There was a time when I thought going green meant expensive, frou-frou organic and eco-chic “stuff.” Sure, that can be part of the picture, but for most people, going green actually saves money. I’ve been posting about how to find deals on green and organic items for the past few years now, so for this “Saving through Green Means” edition of the Green Moms Carnival, hosted by Condo Blues,  I’m sharing a round-up of my favorite tips for saving money while going green. I’ve linked to 10 posts below, and together they cover more than 20 tips for saving money! Now what are you going to do with all that money you save? Leave a comment and share!

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1.  One of my favorite “savings posts”  – and honestly, not just for “green means” either. Here are the things to AVOID doing – My Top 10 Don’ts.   Follow these rules and I swear you’ll save money!

2.   Hate spending money on kids’ stickers? So do I! So much packaging waste and they’re a total rip-off! Here’s a post about what you can do instead.

3. Buying in Bulk and Watch Those Labels! You don’t have to trek to a big box store to buy in bulk. You can save by stocking up on discounted items at your regular grocer. Read this post for more info.

apple-juice-apple-eve14.  Bigger Isn’t Always Better – the “bulk savings bin” or “special deals” aren’t always the cheapest way to go. See this post for details – but check what you need and read labels and per ounce/per serving pricing carefully. If you waste something, you’re not really saving anything – and it’s not very green, is it?

5.  CSAs are a great way to save money on organic, local, farm-fresh and even biodynamic foods. Did you know you can save even more money by sampling a CSA? Read this post to learn how.

6. Disappointed by in-store expired coupons? Don’t be – take a few minutes to go to customer service to get the money you’re owed! Here’s my experience at Whole Foods.

7. Not finding what you want? Look up, look down, look all around. Did you know that most stores put the most expensive items at eye-level? That means you have to crane your neck to look up, look down, look all around and find what you want, as this post demonstrates!

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8. Late Night Specials at Whole Foods: Perfect for tomorrow’s lunch or a late night snack, did you know you can grab the day’s freshly made gourmet sandwiches for half-off in the evening?  Read more here.

9.  Waste-free lunches are green, cheap and easy. Sure, you can buy some of the lovely waste-free lunch kits. But you don’t have to. You can make your own or brown-bag it. Here’s how.

10.    Green Household Cleansers: Make Your Own!  Vinegar, baking soda, castille soap, and maybe some lemon. That’s really all you need! Read more here, and check out The Smart Mama too. She’s a wealth of knowledge about green cleaning – she has some great “cleaning recipes” on her site to help you!

Hope you enjoyed all these “oldie but goodie” posts on saving through green means! Leave a comment and share your best tips!

Walmart Knows What’s Best for Us Green Moms. Right?

October 14th, 2009

As a child, my mother used to drag me out to endless open houses. It was fun to look at the gorgeous new homes for sale and to dream. But invariably, we would laugh. She’d point to a kitchen door that was too far from a countertop, or a window that was ill placed, or a closet that was too small, and say with a loud HUMPPH, “Must have been a man that designed this house. They have no idea how we women live.”

My mother’s  words came back to me when I learned from my friend, the green blogger  Mary Hunt of In Women We Trust that  Walmart is developing its new sustainability index without ANY consumer input.    What’s more, they’re charging companies $250,000 to participate in the process of setting the standards. They’re even charging to attend webinars to learn how the index works!

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Pictured: Sam’s Club Fair Trade Coffee for sale at Walmart.  Cheapest price I’ve ever seen for Fair Trade coffee!

Some of you might be thinking, “Who cares?” Most of my friends don’t shop at Walmart. In fact, most actively avoid the place. I recall a “Green Moms” dinner once where only two of us had even tread foot inside a Walmart.  But as I’ve blogged herehere, and here, I actually do shop in Walmart from time to time, and I’ve eagerly cheered them on as they’ve stocked more fair trade, USDA organic, and eco-friendly items.   After all, as Walmart goes, in large part, so goes Middle America. And this is why Walmart’s Sustainability Index is so critical to all of us.

A large selection of Clorox GreenWorks products at a Walmart -- all for $2.98 per bottle.

A large selection of Clorox GreenWorks products at a Walmart -- all for $2.98 per bottle.

By virtue of its sheer size, Walmart’s standards will become the de-facto standards for all products. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying at Walmart or your local corner store. If your favorite products are carried at Walmart – and this includes green favorites like Clorox GreenWorks, Horizon USDA Organic milk, most major organic jarred baby food brands,  and many other household brands – your product will be designed to meet Walmart’s standards. Their standard will of necessity become our standard, because the manufacturers will (rightly so) insist that they can’t meet multiple standards. They’ll choose one standard to meet, and if Walmart insists on a Sustainability Index before the US Government mandates one, well….you can guess whose standard will become the de-facto standard of the land.

Others who pooh pooh the need for consumer input might reason, “Well,  the companies know what consumers want, don’t they?”  Hmm…if all companies knew what mattered most to consumers, all companies would be fabulously successful with amazing, defect-free, safe, functional products.

So Walmart, if you decide you do want consumer input, we’re happy to give it. Just don’t charge us for the privilege, please.

And to hear what other members of the Green Moms Carnival are saying about Walmart’s Sustainability Index and its impact on consumers, please check out Mary Hunt’s blog, In Women We Trust, where she hosts this month’s Green Moms Carnival on Sustainable Standards: What’s the Consumer’s Opinion?

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Update – 10/28/11  Since I wrote this post, Walmart has updated its site with links to both the Sustainability Index webinar (which you can watch for free) and a PDF of the Supplier Sustainability Index. — Lynn

Organic & Green Savings: CVS, Whole Foods & Bethesda’s Giant Food

May 31st, 2009

It’s been a while since the last Green and Organic Savings feature. With all this child advocacy, green activism, and taking care of clients, I’ve not had time for long, leisurely shopping trips. Mr. OrganicMania has picked up the slack, but that’s going to change.

Anyway, this week, you didn’t even need to make it to the stores to see some fabulous deals at Whole Foods, Safeway and CVS, thanks in part to some old-fashioned direct mail pieces and newspaper inserts.

CVS has an incredible deal running on Physician’s Formula make-up. With your CVS card, you can buy one, get 50% off one Physicians Formula cosmetic. And check your newspaper coupon insert today. The Sunday Washington Post has a $1 off coupon for Physicians Formula. As I blogged here, not all of their products score the best ratings in the Cosmetics Safety database, but five of their 185 products score “low hazard” ratings, so OrganicMania recommends you try these Physicians Formula products: liquid eyeliner, finishing veil, pressed powder, concealer stick, and extra sensitive skin sunblock. If you have questions, you can check out their ratings at the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database here.

Next time you’re in Whole Foods, be sure to use the Green & Black’s $1 off coupon from the Whole Foods Whole Deal newsletter (good through July). I’ve raved before about Green & Black’s delicious organic chocolate here at OrganicMania, over at Big Green Purse, and at The Daily Green, but since it’s nearly summer I decided to try their ice cream. Wow. It’s fantastic! Thanks again to my bloggy friend Wrekehavoc for turning me on to Green & Blacks Organic!

If you’re anywhere near Bethesda, be sure to check out the Arlington Road Giant, which is running a triple coupon deal through June 4th.  You can find the triple savings coupons in a newsprint mailer sent to area homes. Now of course you don’t want to use those coupons for junk food, so I decided to scour the net to look for organic coupons for under $1 each that could be used at Giant to qualify for triple savings. The Giant deal means you can save up to $2.97 on each of five items, for $14.85 in savings! After looking at national organic brands with distribution at Giant including Stonyfield, Ian’s, Newman’s Own, Green & Black’s, Amy’s Organic, Annie’s Naturals and Earthbound Farm, incredibly I could only find valid online coupons (those under $1) at Stonyfield Farm. (Disclosure: Stonyfield is a sponsor of OrganicMania’s trip to BlogHER, but honestly I couldn’t find valid under $1 coupons anywhere else! Leave a comment some if you happen to find them!)

Stonyfield has 14 different online coupons available including .50 off their new Oikos organic Greek yogurt, as well as organic milk, Yo Baby, Smoothies and more. You need to register here before accessing the e-coupons.

Did you find any other great deals on organic and green products? Leave a comment and share!

Note: I’m looking for two additional sponsors to help defray the cost of my BlogHER trip. If you represent a sustainable brand that you think may be a good fit with OrganicMania, please email me at organicmania at gmail dot com.

Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Great Deals on Recycled Toilet Paper & Why TP Shouldn’t Be at the Bottom of Your Green List

March 2nd, 2009

Perhaps you saw the news a few days ago: reports from Greenpeace, publicized in The New York Times, Fast Company, and the UK newspaper The Guardian, which emphasized the importance of choosing recycled toilet paper over “squeezably soft” brands, which get that softness from wood pulp found only in virgin forests.

Going green involves huge changes in buying behaviors: everything from food to clothing to houses, cars, and even toilet paper gets looked at with increased awareness of its ecological impact.

And for many of us — well, swapping out our favorite toilet paper brand is at the bottom of the list. I’ll admit it: I didn’t give much thought to recycled toilet paper, figuring that I’d just wait until the prices came down and the quality came up. Memories of scratchy paper from overseas didn’t do anything to encourage me to check out recycled toilet paper, and frankly, I didn’t realize the extent to which premium toilet paper is taken from old growth forests. (Read more of this disturbing news here).

So I took a fresh look at recycled toilet paper versus conventional, and found big changes in the marketplace. Did you realize you can buy recycled paper for less money than conventional toilet paper?

CVS recently introduced CVS Earth Essentials, recycled content napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels. I decided that at .89 cents a roll, I could spring for one, and put it to the test versus Scott bathroom tissues, available on the same drugstore shelf for $1.29 per roll, and Seventh Generation, available at Whole Foods for $1.39 per roll.

The verdict? Recycled toilet paper has come a long way. Yes, from the perspective of “The Princess and the Pea,” you do notice a bit of a difference, but it is very slight and not nearly enough to merit being called “scratchy.” The quality is equivalent to the type of toilet paper you find in most public buildings. It’s fine.

And it’s really cheap in bulk. After the successful home test, I returned to CVS to stock up. They’re running a sale on four packs of Earth Essentials, now $3.49, on sale from $4.69 through April 30th. That’s a $1.20 savings per 4-pack. But the savings really add up when you buy a 12-pack for $8.99. That’s less than 75 cents per roll. And if you have a CVS “ExtraCare card,” you may reap even more savings. My initial .89 cent purchase yielded a $5 off any $15 purchase, so when I returned to pick up the 12-pack, I added a few other things in my cart and saved even more.

The CVS Earth Essentials toilet paper rated a “Green Tree” stamp of approval from Greenpeace. (Unfortunately the other Earth Essentials products didn’t rank quite as highly as their toilet paper). Check out the Greenpeace guide here. Other good bets for best buys include the Trader Joe’s house brand and Whole Foods 365 brand. And don’t forget, you can often get 10% off a case of goods such as toilet paper at your local market – just ask! My Organic Market offers this discount plus a “best price” guarantee. Other good sources include CSAs, which often stock paper goods too.

So what are you waiting for? Take the switch to recycled toilet paper off the bottom of your list today!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Organic and Green Savings: A Great Time to Try Organic Kids Food

January 6th, 2009

Just wanted to pass along the news that my client Mom Made Foods is offering a great deal to celebrate the new year. Now when you buy any 4 Mom Made Meals or Munchies at SuperTarget by January 19th, you can redeem your UPC codes for a $9 SuperTarget gift card plus special savings codes from GDiapers and Bebe au Lait! Grab your rebate form and all the details here.

The MomMade Team! (L to R, Laura Waldron, Marketing Manager; Jennifer Mulchandani, Marketing Director; Heather Stouffer, Mom Made Founder; and Lynn Miller, Miller Strategic Marketing and OrganicMania).

The MomMade Team! (L to R, Laura Waldron, Marketing Manager; Jennifer Mulchandani, Marketing Director; Heather Stouffer, Mom Made Founder; and Lynn Miller, Miller Strategic Marketing and OrganicMania).

This $9 rebate offer is a great excuse not only to try Mom Made organic frozen foods, but to visit a SuperTarget! I tweeted a while back about the surprises I found on my “roadtrip” to a SuperTarget with the Mom Made team. I had no idea that SuperTargets had such an expansive organics section – including fresh organic produce, all at great prices, of course!

For more than a year now, I’ve been blogging about the need for more healthy, organic and natural products at prices that make sense. During this time, we’ve discussed money savings tips such as the expansion of Giant’s organic lines, great savings on Archer Farms house brand organics at Target, coupons from Whole Foods, and more. And now we see SuperTarget, recently named one of the top 10 healthiest grocery stores by Health Magazine, as another high quality option for organic foods at a good price.

Take a look – and let me know what you think!

And as for the Mom Made? Well, there are four options to choose from, but I’d be holding out if I didn’t tell you that Baby Boo and Big Boy prefer the Cheesy Mac (with peas!) and the Cheese Pizza. As for me? After a long day, I’ve been known to kick back with a Mom Made Bean Burrito and a beer!

Looking for more savings tips? Check these out over at Thrifty Thursday on greenbabyguide.com and these at Frugal Friday!

Bon Appetit!

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Buy Something that Makes a Difference Day!

November 28th, 2008

Last year at this time, I supported “Buy Nothing Day,” which encourages consumers to abstain from “Black Friday” shopping sales.

This year, it’s a different story. With “Going out of Business” signs all around the shopping centers, we see sad reminders of an economy in tatters.

I’m not suggesting you buy a bunch of useless “stuff” just to help the economy and save a few bucks for the holidays. But what I am suggesting is that whether you’re out and about today on “Black Friday” or cruising the Net on “Cyber Monday,” you can choose to make a difference with your purchases by patronizing those companies that help us to go green – either by saving energy, using organic farming methods, or insisting on recycled paper from well managed forests.

And yes, I have a few savings tips for you – all, I’m happy to say, from some great green companies I’m representing through my consulting business.

Savings Tip #1 – Free Organic Food for Kids (With Rebate)
Is there a SuperTarget near you? I visited for the first time last week and was impressed by their attractive display of organic produce, along with the increasing variety of eco-friendly products Target stocks – all at great prices, of course. The reason for my visit was to check out their new display of Mom Made organic foods. Now’s the best time to try Mom Made — for free. Mom Made will refund the purchase price of one Mom Made for Baby, Mom Made Munchie, or Mom Made Meal purchased at SuperTarget through December 10th. Just download this form for info on where to send your receipt and proof of purchase.

Savings Tip#2 – Free Shipping on Energy Efficient LED Lights
Think compact fluorescents are the latest and greatest in energy efficiency? Think again. LEDs are the wave of the future. Prices are coming down, and the energy savings are enormous. (Check out this comparison chart to get informed on the differences between incandescent, compact fluorescent, and
LED lighting for details). Now you can order that practical someone on your list the latest in LED lighting technology – with free shipping for the holidays. Check out Mr. Beams motion sensor activated SpotLight and StairLight, and read their great consumer reviews here.

Savings Tip #3 – 10% off Soft Organic Cotton Tees and Note Cards
Got a dog lover on your list? What about an environmentally conscious dog lover who wants to support dog charities? Check out these adorable, soft, whimsical organic cotton tees printed with water-based inks and the matching note cards, printed on FSC certified paper by an FSC certified printer in a carbon-neutral facility. Coordinating envelopes made from 100% recyclable paper, packed in biodegradable/compostable packaging with hemp string. Whether you choose to shake it off or live in the moment, there’s something for you at Fundamentally Dog! Use coupon code 1EM1108 to save 10% on your first purchase by 12/20/08. 

Happy Shopping…and remember, think carefully about how you spend…you can make a real difference by patronizing firms that are working hard to protect and preserve the environment. Want to take it a step further? Sign up for my friend Diane MacEachern’s “One in a Million Challenge,” and commit to shifting $1,000 of your spending to eco-friendly products. As Diane, author of The Big Green Purse, puts it “The more money you spend on green products, the more you encourage manufacturers to reduce pollution, save energy and water, use less packaging and protect natural areas.”

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Organic Savings: Get Thee to Target Today

October 18th, 2008

Big Boy asks to go to Target so often that now 23-month-old Baby Boo is saying, “Wanna go Target!” I’m a goner. In addition to all this pressure on the home front, I was working hard this week on the launch of my client Mom Made Food’s kid’s organic line at SuperTargets nationwide.

So of course we ended up there yesterday, and I’ve got some great savings to share from Target’s in-house organic brand, Archer Farms. Target is running a nationwide sale through today (Saturday) on all Archer Farms products – 15% off a line that is already value priced.

I’ve posted here before about how the half gallons of Archer Farms organic milk are the Holy Grail for cheap organic milk by the half gallon. Can you believe they’re on sale for $2.92 per half gallon? And if you drink soymilk, you’re really in luck. You can nab a half gallon of Archer Farms organic soymilk for just $2.28. I usually refuse Big Boy’s pleas for chocolate milk, but at that price, I got him some as a special treat.

Now some folks dispute the notion that you need to buy organic for packaged or processed foods. Sure, we should all eat lots of fresh, whole foods, but sometimes it just makes sense to take advantage of the convenience of processed or packaged foods. And in those situations, whenever I can, I opt for products with the USDA organic seal, because it means that my children will be eating foods with no transfats, no artificial colors, no artifical preservatives, and no Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Many parents don’t realize that nearly all of today’s conventional packaged foods contain GMOs, and that GMOs have been banned in places like Europe and Japan. What’s more, in the United States, companies are not required to disclose the existence of GMOs in their products.

That’s why I stocked up on Archer Farms organic flaxseed and homestyle waffles– on sale for $1.86 per package and Archer Farms organic crackers (seasalt, multigrain, rye and flax, multiseed, and Italian herb) on sale for $2.11 per package.

I tend to stay away from over sugared items – in my book, organic cane juice is just sugar, thank you very much. But for those of you with kids whose teeth can withstand “fruit leather” or roll-ups, you might want to check out the Archer Farms organic fruit strips at $2.99 per 10 count box of organic raspberry, organic strawberry, organic apricot, organic pomengranate, organic wildberry, and organic tropical fruit.

And before you go? Print out these coupons for $1 off Archer Farms juice and cookies. The coupons don’t specify if they apply to the organic varieties, but it’s worth trying.  And if you arrive and the shelves are bare? Remember you can get rain checks on all advertised sale items.

Happy Shopping! Did you find these tips helpful? Do you have any shopping tips to share? Please leave a comment!

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Green and Organic Savings: Sampling a CSA

August 17th, 2008

Big purchases scare many people these days. So when it comes time to sign up for a CSA, worries may kick in.

Will I get more than just kale?,” you may wonder. “Is $900 for a season really worth it?”

The good news is you can sample a CSA’s bounty. Although few, if any, CSAs promote trial periods, the fact is that during the waning days of summer, many CSA members leave town for vacation and offer their weekly shares for sale.

For around $30, you should be able to pick up a week’s share, about two bags full of farm fresh produce, and depending on the CSA, you may also take home bread, grains, cheese, eggs, or even home-baked cookies.

For more information, check out the list of CSAs at Local Harvest. Then email or call the contact person and ask if anyone is trying to sell a week’s share while on vacation.

Good luck and leave a comment to let me know if you end up sampling a CSA!

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Organic Food Savings: Tweeting at Trader Joes, Whole Foods & Giant

August 10th, 2008

Note: The post below was written before the launch of the Green Moms Carnival on Global Warming. I almost didn’t post this because frankly, my thoughts are not on organic finds right now. But I thought I owed it to everyone who does come here looking for organic savings tips. So stay tuned for my next post, which will cover the aftermath of the Green Moms Carnival on Global Warming – how do you go from vision to reality?

——

You’d think I had a family of eight, not four, with three trips to the market last week. I should be eating less, not more, with the great Tweet-2-Fit weight loss challenge underway this week!

But getting out to three different markets does give one a good perspective on pricing. It’s really tough to say which market has the best deals – it all depends on your family’s buying patterns. And of course, it makes no sense to drive around in search of great deals. Not only is it bad for the environment, but with gas prices hovering around $4 anyway, it’s unlikely you’ll save enough money to merit another trip. But, with some advance planning, you can take advantage of the bargain specialties of each store when you happen to be nearby. I live in an urban area – there are four Whole Foods close to my regular haunts, plus Trader Joes, Balduccis, Giant, Safeway, and numerous CSAs, co-ops and farmers markets.

If you haven’t signed up for Twitter yet, you can sign up here. I’m finding it so useful to send out live Twitter updates on my organic finds that I’m loathe to write-up everything again on OrganicMania, especially on a busy week like last week when I was working on the launch of the Green Moms Carnival on Global Warming (and closing new business for my consulting practice!)

C’mon, join in…you’ll learn where I found organic apples at 3 pounds for $5 (incredible deal when they’re usually more than $2.50 per pound), which “great deal” on bananas was really not a great deal and why, and even be on hand when Baby Boo says fish (or feesh!) for the first time. Plus, did you know you can give time-outs in Whole Foods?

Happy Shopping!

Lynn