There are a few great gifts I give myself in the morning. The first, is to rise an hour earlier than necessary to get in an uninterrupted hour of reading (BLISS!). The second is to always program my coffeemaker the night before so I wake up to a fresh brew (HEAVEN!). The third? Packing my freezer with smoothie packets that make creating a morning smoothie filled with greens and fruits incredibly easy and practically effortless (WINNING AT LIFE).
I posted about my make-ahead smoothie packets on Instagram and got a lot of questions about it. Something I have come to think of as a weekly routine really sparked a lot of questions about my recipe, what the smoothie looked like, and what to do for fruit substitutions. I thought it deserved its own little post because it has become a very vital part of my morning routines and sets a good foundation for healthy eating the rest of the day.
Not only does this strategy save you time in the morning, but it also puts ripe fruit to work and is a great way to utilize spinach before it goes bad making the most of every grocery dollar. I never waste a banana in our house or any greens anymore because they always have a home. If I have run out of frozen berries, I just add the rest of these ingredients into a packet and get them ready for my next grocery day when I can get the frozen fruit to add to it. As someone trying to reduce their food waste, this has been an awesome use for those often tossed items.
Also, if you buy smoothies regularly, you know they are not cheap. A typical smoothie around these parts (said in my best Midwest accent) is around $4-6. Even if bought weekly, that can add up fast!
Here were a few of your questions for me!
Do you store these packets in the freezer and for how long?
Yup, I recommend freezing in quart-sized freezer storage bags and making sure to push out any air in the bags to keep these ingredients as fresh as possible. I would recommend using these in one month for optimum flavor.
How many smoothies do these packets make?
I drink an enormous smoothie in the morning (24 ounces) and my daughter has the size I am showing you in the cup below and this packet with my recipe I have listed makes enough for that. For “normal” people, maybe it might make three, but this is my breakfast, people, and I’m a big eater. I got one of these for me to help make toting these in the car a little easier since I drink these on the way to the gym in the morning. I also have this giant water bottle from the same company and it has improved how much water I intake as well as my healthy smoothie habit for breakfast. I have been happy how they have held up (over a year now!) compared to some other insulated cups I have tried.
Do you blend these with milk or use a milk substitution?
My stomach can’t process a lot of dairy so I use unsweetened almond milk in mine. I do use Greek yogurt though (either vanilla or unsweetened) and that doesn’t seem to bother me. You can definitely use milk, soy milk, or coconut milk if you would prefer. I’m a big fan of the flavor of the almond milk!
Can I make these without spinach? I don’t think my kids will drink these if they are green!
I just want to show you how very slightly these are tinged with green when you only add a cup or so of spinach to them. Additionally, if I am really concerned an extra handful of frozen blueberries cancels out all other colors so sometimes if I am really generous with the blueberries, these look more blue.
Are you using frozen spinach? Frozen berries? What does the spinach look like when it is frozen?
Here is a packet that has been frozen for three weeks and this is what it looks like. The spinach is fresh spinach (I don’t want to hassle with the frozen stuff- personal preference), the berries are frozen, and the bananas are fresh. I like to cut the bananas in half to help them break down a little easier in the blender. As you can see, the spinach looks almost the same as it did when I threw it in there.
The bananas may brown over time, but they will still taste the same. As rapidly as we go through these though, I have rarely even seen that happen.
By freezing these fruits and veggies, you eliminate the need for ice in your smoothie which creates a much creamier consistency and a smoothie that holds together longer. Sometimes I will make these in the morning and pop one in the fridge for my daughter for her afternoon snack. It always looks just like I had just made it. When I add water or ice, it tends to separate and grosses her out.
Should I flash freeze any of the ingredients?
If you aren’t familiar with flash freezing, I do this a lot with foods for our freezer. Typically, I fan whatever I am freezing out on an open parchment paper lined cookie sheet, freeze just until frozen, and then toss in a bag.
I experimented with this and here is what I will say about that. You can cut the bananas in half and flash freeze and they will stay separated, making it easier to pour into your blender and it is really great. It’s an extra step though. My lazy freezer routine is to cut them in half right in the bag, freeze (where they tend to fuse back together) and then smack the bag as hard as I can on the counter until they loosen from each other while I listen to the political
crap insight on NPR. It’s kind of like a therapy session. You can do it whichever way fits your lifestyle best.
What kind of protein powder do you use? What can I use if I am vegan or dairy-free?
When I was dairy-free, I experimented with a lot of terrible protein powders so I can honestly tell you this is the only brand that I really liked that was plant-based. Now that I’m not dairy-free, I just purchase the store brand protein powder at our local grocery store in a vanilla flavor. Like I said, we had to try a few before we found the ones we liked best and I always try to keep my eyes peeled for a sale to maximize the savings. The goal is to keep this as a frugal routine for us.
What kind of blender do you have?
I have had the same blender for probably eight years or so and, unfortunately, they don’t make mine anymore. When mine bites the bullet, I will probably invest in this one because I have heard they last forever. In order to blend up these fruits, you really need to have a high powered blender though. If you have a $20 blender, it will burn out your motor. I say this because I did it. Twice. Invest in a good blender and it will more than pay for itself, I promise you!
I can’t eat bananas. Do you have any recommendations for substitutions for my smoothie?
I really liked this advice!
Do your kids really like these? My kids are really picky!
They really do and so do I. My daughter was a terrible breakfast eater, like her mother, and I worried a lot that she wasn’t eating enough to be fueled for her day at school. This is what she “eats” and she stays full until lunchtime. If she is running late, it is something that can be finished while she waits for her bus. Fun straws are always a great addition to this morning treat especially when first pitching this idea to your kids. She says it tastes like a milkshake.
For me, it’s been an incredible way to get fueled before I workout. Working out on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea for someone with low blood sugar. Eating something too heavy made me feel like I was going to be sick. These smoothies are a great option to be fueled without a lot of heaviness in my stomach. Sometimes I drink half and pop it in the fridge until I get done exercising and finish the other half when I’m done.
I hope these tips are helpful and I hope you love these as much as our family does!
- 1 banana (cut in half- see freezing tips above)
- 5 frozen strawberries
- 1 handful of frozen blueberries
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- ½ cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
- 1½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite milk)
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (see recommendation above)
- In a quart-sized bag prepare 1 banana, strawberries, blueberries, and spinach in a freezer bag. Repeat this process for a week's worth of smoothies. Freeze for up to 30 days.
- When making your morning smoothie, remove packet from the freezer and place in blender. Add almond milk, yogurt, and protein powder.
- Blend well. Serve.