Smoothie Tips and Tricks Part 3: Planning Ahead

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In the last two posts, I’ve covered smoothie additions to keep you full and great smoothie flavor ideas.  Now comes the really hard part: planning.

Yep, if you want to be able to enjoy a smoothie every morning, it takes a bit of planning.  Most smoothie ingredients are perishable, so you want to use everything before it goes bad.  However, if you are like me, you don’t want to have the same smoothie every day just to use up the fresh ingredients.  For this reason, I recommend that freezing leftover ingredients.

The best part about using frozen ingredients is that it ensures a nice, thick smoothie without the addition of ice.  One caveat: you do need some liquid to help blend the smoothie, so you don’t want everything to be frozen.  My blender also sounds like it’s grinding up rocks when I try and blend fully frozen fruit.  To make things a bit easier, I pop the ingredients in the blender and let them sit for 10-15 minutes while head off to do something else. Then I come back and add the non-frozen ingredients and blend.  If you have a high-end blender you can probably skip the waiting time!

So what ingredients can you freeze?

  • Fresh fruit: Buy it in season, wash, and freeze it.  Then you can enjoy it months later without it costing a fortune.  It will also taste a lot better than out-of-season fruit flown in from who-knows-where.
    • Tip for freezing fruit: Wash, dry, and prep (chop, peel, etc).  Then lay out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Pop the whole thing in the freezer.  Once the fruit is frozen, transfer it to a freezer bag.  If you start in the freezer bag, you’ll end up with a giant hunk of fruit all stuck together.  If space is an issue and you can’t get a whole cookie sheet in the freezer, consider using small freezer bags and adding just enough fruit for a single smoothie to each bag.
  • Frozen bananas: Yes, I know they are a fruit, but I use some frozen banana in almost every smoothie I make.  But not just any banana, a brown, spotty banana because they are extra sweet and ensure that I don’t need to add sugar.  I buy a bunch and let them get a little past their prime, then peel, cut in the thirds and freeze.  I rarely taste the banana, but they go a long way in adding sweetness, especially in a green smoothie.
  • Pre-frozen fruit: When fruit is not in season, you can’t beat frozen fruit.  Even when it’s not on sale, it’s usually a better deal than out of season items and tastes better.  In fact, I usually buy all of my pineapple and mango frozen.  They don’t grow locally, and the pre-chopped frozen option is much easier.
  • Yogurt: Buying the large container of plain yogurt is more economical, but I can’t always finish it all before it goes bad.  Instead, I fill an ice cube tray with yogurt and freeze.  Then I put the yogurt cubes in a bag until needed.
  • Spinach: I love a green smoothie, but spinach goes bad so quickly.  Instead, puree the spinach and put it in an ice cube tray to freeze.
  • Other perishable ingredients: Use that ice cube tray again to store anything you like to add to smoothies, but don’t use all at once, like a half a can coconut milk or pumpkin.
  • Label and organize: You don’t want random things to float to the back of the freezer to be forgotten.  Label anything you freeze.  Keep a list of what you have so that you can reference it before you go to the store or to get creative in a new smoothie pairing.  I also set aside a small section of my freezer just for smoothie ingredients so that I know where everything is. It’s very important in the morning before my coffee kicks in!
  • Pre-make and bag your smoothies: If you want to be really organized, you can make smoothie bags in advance.  Then just grab and pop in your blender for extra hectic mornings.  See here and here for more suggestions.
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