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I’m always looking for ways to reduce my time spent in the kitchen on busy school mornings.
The easiest way to do this is to prep meals in advance. At this point, about 95% of our breakfast meals are prepped in advance. This one small, intentional activity has helped to calm our busy mornings and reduce the time I spend in the kitchen in the wee hours. Calm mom = calm home.
One of the easiest “meals” to prep in advance is, a smoothie. There are a few different ways to prep a smoothie in advance. Today, we’re going to focus on freezer smoothie packs.
What is a Smoothie Pack?
A smoothie pack is a fancy name for a combo of smoothie ingredients that are mixed together ahead of time and then stored in a bag (or jar) in the freezer.
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A smoothie pack, just like a smoothie, can be made with various frozen fruits and/or veggies, fresh greens, and additional nutrient-rich ingredients (frozen kefir cubes, seeds, nut butters, etc.). When you’re ready to make a smoothie, simply pour the contents of the smoothie pack, taken directly from the freezer, into a blender and add 1-2 cups of liquid.
How to Build Your Own Smoothie Packs
With my smoothie pack framework, you’ll be able to create your own custom smoothie packs using a variety of fruits, veggies, and nourishing extras. We’ll talk about each component below. This framework makes about 2 servings of drinkable smoothie.
1/2-2/3 cup frozen fruit, 1/2 cup frozen banana slices, 1/2 cup frozen veggie chunks, 1 cup fresh greens, 1/4 cup probiotic cubes (kefir or yogurt), extra goodies
Before creating a smoothie pack, you’ll need a way to combine and store the ingredients to create a “pack.” There are two options:
1. Plastic bags (quart-size work best). I also just ordered a set of silicone, reusable bags to try.
2. Glass or plastic jars or containers (mason jars, tupperware-type containers)
I like to use bags. The bags make releasing frozen fruit much easier than stiff containers. Also, since the bags never get dirty, and I remake the same smoothie combos over and over again, I reuse the bags.
Storage jars (mason jars) are much bulkier which creates an issue with smaller freezers, like mine. And if the frozen fruit and veggie melt and begin to stick together before freezing a smoothie pack, there may be issues with releasing the smoothie contents at the time of blending.
Frozen Fruit (1/2-2/3 cup + 1/2 cup sliced bananas)
The frozen fruit thickens the smoothie, keeps it cold (fruit ice cubes), and provides natural sweetness–amongst other nutritional benefits. My favorite fruit to use in smoothies, includes: cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and mangoes.
I also like to add frozen banana slices (about 1/2 a large banana). The banana slices add even more sweetness, fiber, and a creamy texture. If you’re not a banana fan, skip this ingredient and just add the fruit mentioned above.
Frozen fruit is the best choice since the frozen pieces don’t stick together. If you’re using fresh fruit, I recommend flash freezing the fruit first in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. This works well with in-season fruit and sliced bananas. Once the fruit is frozen (about 1 hour), place the fruit in a storage container/bag to use later, or divide the fruit into individual smoothie packs.
Always work fast when making smoothie packs so the fruit (and other frozen ingredients) don’t defrost.
Frozen Veggies (1/2 cup)
Veggies add a nutritional boost to a smoothie. My favorite veggies to add to a smoothie pack, include: steamed cauliflower, steamed zucchini, steamed beets, steamed butternut squash, and steamed sweet potato.
After cutting the veggies, steam the chunks in water for just a few minutes until slightly soft. Then flash freeze the chunks in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once the veggies are frozen (about 1 hour), place the veggies in a storage container/bag to use later, or divide the veggies into individual smoothie packs.
Fresh Greens (1 cup)
Adding a cup of fresh greens only increases the nutritional benefits of a smoothie. Simply add the greens—kale, chard, or spinach—directly to the smoothie pack. Baby greens have a more delicate flavor. I usually go with baby spinach.
Probiotic Ice Cubes (1/4 cup)
Freezing kefir or yogurt provides the perfect opportunity to add some cultured, probiotic goodness. Pour (or spoon) the kefir or yogurt into ice cube trays, and then freeze the trays. Once frozen, place the cubes in a storage container/bag to use later, or divide the cubes into individual smoothie packs. I personally add 4-6 cubes (equals 1/4-1/2 cup of kefir or yogurt) to each smoothie pack. The amount of cubes you add is completely up to you. For kefir, I like Maple Hill Creamery and Siggi’s brands.
If you’re dairy-free, skip the kefir or yogurt, or substitute coconut, almond, or cashew milk cubes. The milk doesn’t offer the same probiotic benefits, but it will add creaminess to the smoothie.
At this point, you can either close the bag (or storage container) and place your smoothie pack in the freezer to enjoy at a later time, or you can add extra goodies, such as: bee pollen, flax seeds, collagen peptides, protein powder, spices (a few pinches of cinnamon or turmeric), a fresh ginger slice, spirulina powder, cacao powder, nut butter (almond, coconut, cashew, peanut), or hemp seeds.
I usually stick with the rule of 1/2 teaspoon of granules (bee pollan, flax seeds, hemp seeds, etc.), a few pinches (1/4 teaspoon) of a spice, and/or 1-2 tablespoons of a protein powder or nut butter. What you add, and how much you add, or if you add any extra goodies (as with every other ingredient), is completely up to you.
Freezing and Blending
Once you’ve created a smoothie pack, seal the bag (or container) and freeze the smoothie pack until you’re ready to make that smoothie. The smoothie pack will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. I like to make a bunch of different smoothie packs at one time. This way my freezer is always stocked with ready-to-blend smoothie options.
To make a smoothie, simply pour the freezer smoothie pack contents into a blender (I highly recommend using a high-speed blender. Yes, a high-speed blender is a huge investment, but it’s worth it if you make a lot of smoothies or blender recipes. Examples: KichenAid ProLine, Vitamix, and BlendTec. Vitamix and Blendtec offer refurbished models, which may be cheaper than purchasing a brand new blender.) and add water (about 1-2 cups). Blend the smoothie on medium-high speed. If the blender is having a hard time blending the frozen contents, add more water. Alternatively, a different liquid may be used: coconut water, milk, or nut milk. I personally stick with water since the frozen kefir (or yogurt) adds a creaminess to the smoothie.