Blending up a smoothie really can be as quick as swiping its container from the freezer—and we partnered with Kashi to show you how easy it is.
All too often, there’s a logistical breakdown somewhere between the desire to have a smoothie and the actual consumption of it.
Because even if you have the ingredients you need, you’ll have to gather them from all corners of the kitchen—dragging the juice from the recesses of your refrigerator, the frozen fruit out from behind the meatless balls (you are freezing meatless balls, right?), and the nut butters, sweeteners, and other ooh-ahh add-ins that make your smoothies special from the pantry. That’s all after you get down the blender. (You may even need to use a stepstool.)
It’s a lot of moving and shaking for the morning—and a lot of spoons and surfaces to wash and wipe down. As much as a morning smoothie may appeal to you, the work it takes to get there may not. But if you treat smoothies like you treat meal planning, you can have all of your ingredients ready and roaring to be blended from one central location: your freezer.
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Here's the gist: Whenever you have a block of free time, gather all of your standby smoothie ingredients, do the necessary prep work, and divide them into reusable freezer-safe containers or plastic bags. When you’re ready to blend, pour the contents of the bag into the machine, add the liquid base, along with any ingredients that didn’t make it into the freezer (Picked some market greens during the week? Add that now!), and blend.
You can make each prepared smoothie the same, or you can use the containers as a jumping-off point and customize as the spirit moves you.
As you begin to brainstorm, keep these points in mind:
Greens need some prep: Wash, dry, and chop them before adding to the bags.
And the same goes for fruit: Either start with frozen fruit from the supermarket or wash, peel, and chop it, then freeze it on a baking sheet before sealing it in the container with the other ingredients. Adding already-frozen fruit ensures that the ingredients won’t freeze in a big clump together—so blending will be more smooth.
Some ingredients require special attention before they can go straight from freezer-to-blender (pit dates and grate ginger, for example) and some ingredients—like oats and nuts, if you’ll be soaking them—don’t belong in the bags at all.
More can be frozen than you think! Leafy herbs can go into to your smoothie bags, as can scoops of nut butters and even yogurt (freeze it in an ice cube tray and add a block or two to each smoothie pack). But keep in mind that for the brightest flavor, nothing can beat freshly torn mint.
Pick your base ingredients (I like to put the same main players in every bag, for sake of ease and thrift): banana, mango, pineapple, spinach, kale, arugula, avocado, grapes, melon, cucumber, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries strawberries, cherries, papaya, watermelon (you know what you like in smoothies—go with that.) Do what needs to be done (peel, chop, pre-freeze—see above!) so that they'll be good to go straight into the blender.
Add in any other bulker-uppers and flavor-ers that will hold up in the freezer: pitted and chopped dates, herbs like mint and basil, nut butters, seeds, grated ginger or turmeric.
Empty the bag into the blender, then add liquids (milks of all sorts, juices of all sorts, yogurt, kefir, etc. etc.) and any other friends that didn't make it into the freezer: protein powder, honey, maple syrup, soaked oats, soaked nuts—you get the deal!
And if you need little inspiration for your own freezer packs:
We partnered with Kashi to show you how to prep your smoothie packs ahead of time, from freezing fruit to what to toss in on the fly. See all of their protein powders here.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.