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Today, let’s turn our attention to prep day and smoothies!
I’m going to be totally honest…
Some weeks I just don’t feel like heating up the oven and baking muffins, making soup, or cooking a whole chicken (even in the crock-pot). When those weeks hit, I remind myself about my reasons for prepping. If I just can’t pull myself out of the prep day blues, I turn to easy foods that can be prepped without an oven: chopping fruits and vegetables, making fruit parfaits, washing greens, or blending smoothies. Even these “small” tasks can make a huge difference in our weekly schedule and the food we enjoy.
Before I share the smoothie prep details, let’s focus on the main reasons why you should think about making smoothies during your prep time. After all, if you’re going to include a task on your prep day printable or mental plan, it must help maximize your time throughout the week (AKA: it better be important!)
Why You Should Prep Smoothies in Advance
1. No-Cook Prep.
Even if you’re stretched for time, smoothies are super simple to prep in advance. A smoothie doesn’t require any cooking or dirtying dishes.
2. Grab-n-Go Breakfast, Lunch, or Snack.
Make-ahead smoothies are my ultimate answer to the famous question, “Mom/Honey, what do we have to eat around here?” I’m all about fostering independence when it comes to the real food choices available in our house, but when the only options available are ingredients versus edible food, this can be a hard task. With smoothies in the fridge or packaged as popsicles or push-up pops in the freezer, a breakfast/lunch/snack is always available.
A smoothie alone won’t fill the hungry bellies in my family. For this reason, I usually pair a smoothie with an easy side: popcorn, cut veggie sticks (sometimes with homemade ranch), crackers, a homemade granola bar (made in advance), sourdough toast, a muffin (made in advance), or an egg (usually made in the Instant Pot and prepped in advance).
3. Start the Day with Nutrients.
Smoothies are the perfect way to start the morning. By serving my family a smoothie first thing in the morning, I know everyone has been nourished with the best of the best nutrients. No matter what happens that day, I know we have enjoyed a healthy dose of fruits, veggies, probiotics, healthy fats, and even sometimes nuts/seeds and chia or flax seeds.
What You’ll Need to Prep Smoothies in Advance
For years, I used a $40 blender. A few years ago, I received my first high-speed blender, a Blendtec. Then, a couple of years ago, I upgraded to a KitchenAid Pro Blender. If you plan to make a lot of green smoothies, or smoothies containing hard ingredients (nuts, dates, etc.), a high-speed blender is the way to go. Yes, high-speed blenders can be pricey and require budgeting over months and years. To save money, I highly recommend checking out the Blendtec refurbished site (my blender was a refurb) if that’s the brand you’re looking to purchase.
Note: Don’t let the desire or feeling that you need a high-speed blender keep you from prepping smoothies. Any blender will work great for a basic fruit/soft veggie smoothie recipe. My $40 blender lasted 8 years!
2. Freezer-Safe Jars.
If you have the freezer space and plan to freeze smoothies you’re going to need freezer-safe jars. Freezer-safe mason jars are my favorite with the plastic screw-on lids. I can use them for soups, smoothies, broth, salad dressing, and so much more. They are also freezer safe thanks to the thick glass and wide mouth. The plastic lids don’t rust so I recommend using them for freezing.
3. Push-Up Pop or Popsicle Molds.
I like to freeze extra smoothies in push-up pop or popsicle molds. Over the years I’ve used both reusable and one-time use molds. Personally, I like the one-time use plastic molds–they are are much better for traveling or the lunchbox since they don’t require washing. Smoothies can also be frozen in popsicle molds.
I use plastic Ziploc bags for my DIY freezer smoothie packs. I don’t have a ton of freezer space inside the house (we also have a garage freezer for meat), so the bags work best. If space isn’t a concern and you want to avoid plastic, quart-size Mason jars or freezer-safe containers will also work. Stasher bags are also a great reusable option!
How to Prep Smoothies in Advance
1. Freezer Smoothie Packs
To make a freezer smoothie pack, fill Ziploc bags or Mason jars (if you have the freezer space and want to avoid plastic), with smoothie ingredients. I use this formula: 2 cups fruit, 1 sliced banana (for a creamy consistency and sweetness), 1 cup greens (optional). Freeze the bags or jars. When you desire a smoothie, remove a package from the freezer, place 1 cup of liquid in the blender (or 1/2 cup liquid and 1/2 yogurt). Pour the fruit in the blender, and blend!
This option allows you to prep smoothies up to 6 months in advance (about 2-3 months if you’re using greens). Learn more about freezer smoothie packs and get started with recipes.
2. Blend and Freeze
Another make-ahead option is to blend a smoothie in the blender, then pour the smoothie into freezer-safe Mason jars, and freeze. This option requires a bit of planning and freezer space.
The night before you plan to drink the smoothie, place a smoothie jar in the fridge and defrost overnight. You can also leave the smoothie on the counter for a few hours for a quick defrost.
Another option is to place a jar in a lunchbox (don’t forget to add a straw–I like these metal straws). By lunchtime the smoothie will be defrosted and the rest of your lunch will still be cold–thanks to the “ice pack” smoothie! If you’re packing the frozen smoothie in a kid’s lunchbox, I recommend defrosting the smoothie in the fridge overnight, then pouring the smoothie into a thermos.
This method allows you prep smoothies up to 3 months in advance!
3. Blend and Refrigerate
This method is similar to the “Blend and Freeze” method. Simply make a smoothie, pour the smoothie into Mason jars (they don’t need to be freezer-safe), and refrigerate. Smoothies will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days. Separation may occur after the first day. This is completely normal. Just stir the smoothie and enjoy! Want to see how I store everything in my fridge? Check out this post and video. I share all my tips for keeping food fresh in the fridge.
This is my favorite make-ahead smoothie option! On busy mornings or afternoons when my kids need a quick breakfast or snack, I can grab a smoothie from the freezer without the worry of backseat or couch spills.
To make grab-n-go smoothies, simply blend a smoothie, and then pour it into push-up molds or even popsicle molds. The push-up molds are great for lunches–simply add them to the lunchbox straight from the freezer. By lunchtime the smoothie is ready to be enjoyed. Need healthy lunchbox ideas? Check out this post of 7 foods you can make and freeze for school lunch.
Favorite Smoothie Recipes
- Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie: Made with spinach and tropical fruits, this smoothie is a winner with kids and adults.
- Healthy Summer Smoothies: Fruit smoothies that are perfect for the summer heat.
- Avocado-Beet Smoothie: Blueberries, avocado (yes, you can freeze avocado), and roasted beets come together to make the most delicious, antioxidant-rich smoothie.
- 5 Smoothie Pack Recipes: Choose from multiple smoothie pack combos that you can freeze and blend as desired.
- Veggie-Packed Smoothies: Made with veggies, like carrots, these smoothies are sure to delight even a veggie critic.
- Yogurt Sticks: These are perfect to make and pack for lunch! Made with just three nourishing ingredients.
Want more tips on food prep and eating healthy, real food? I’d love to send you a crash course and step-by-step guide to stocking your home with healthy, real food…