Smoothies are one of my family's favorite breakfasts to start the day. They're a portable meal to take on the go and are a tasty way to sneak in those fruit (and veggie!) servings. Even the youngest and pickiest of eaters can find a smoothie combo they love—and that you can feel good about giving them.
Related: 46 Healthy Smoothie Ideas for Kids
But some mornings are so hectic, there's no time for all that chopping and measuring. So to make the smoothie-making process run even smoother (see what I did there?), I like to have at least a week's worth of smoothie freezer packs at the ready. What are those? Simply put, they're bags of premeasured frozen fruit ready to hit the blender so you can skip the morning measuring and whirl up your favorite smoothie in just a minute or two.
Set aside a few minutes on the weekend to prep and freeze your ingredients. Get the kids involved by letting them mix & match, measure and label the fruit for their own freezer packs. They'll be eager to try their new creations and you'll have a week's worth of effortless breakfasts ready to go come Monday morning. It's a win-win. Here's how to get started:
Pictured Recipe: Make-Ahead Smoothie Freezer Packs
• 2½ cups whole berries or chopped fruit, divided
• 2½ cups sliced banana, divided
• 5 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk or soymilk (or other milk of your choice), divided
This recipes makes 5 smoothie packs, enough for a week of breakfast smoothies. If you don't work your way through your supply right away, freezer smoothie packs can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Virtually any fruit works in a smoothie. We like combinations of at least two different fruits to jazz them up. It's also the secret to cutting out added sugar: pair a sweeter fruit (like grapes or bananas) with ones that are less sweet (like raspberries or blueberries). We like bananas, because not only do they add a hit of sweetness without added sugar, but they also give your smoothie a rich, creamy texture.
Don't like bananas? It's OK to swap them for another fruit of your choice, but you might want to add a little honey or maple syrup to sweeten things up. And you may lose some of the creamy texture.
To prep your fruit, wash and pat dry. Remove as much excess moisture as possible, so the fruit doesn't clump into big ice chunks in the freezer.
Cut tops off strawberries. Raspberries and blueberries can be left whole. If you're using other fruits, such as mangoes or pineapple, chop them into small pieces. Slice bananas.
Generally speaking, a smoothie serving should be about 11/2 cups, especially if it's for kids. For that, you'll need to pack up 1 cup of fresh fruit. If you're using our basic recipe, that's 1/2 cup berries or chopped fruit and 1/2 cup sliced banana. Measure your fruit into small plastic sandwich bags, one for each day. Why plastic bags? They're freezer-friendly and flexible in case you end up needing to break up chunks of frozen fruit. You don't need to throw them away when you're done: just toss them back into the freezer (empty) and refill them with the next week's supply.
If you're trying to avoid plastic or want to cut down on waste, we love Stasher's reusable sandwich bags made from food-grade silicone instead of plastic. They come in three sizes: snack, sandwich and half-gallon.
It's go time! When you're ready for a smoothie, just grab a bag out of the freezer and throw it in your blender with 1 cup liquid of your choice. Any liquid will work, so it's up to your personal preference what you use. Juice will make your smoothie sweeter, whole milk or yogurt will make it creamier. If you haven't tried unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk or soymilk, give that a go. There is no added sugar but the hint of vanilla can give your smoothie a lovely confectionery flavor.
Related: How to Make Epic Smoothies at Home
Should you freeze your own fresh fruit or just start with frozen? That could depend on the season. In the dead of winter when fresh fruit is coming from faraway places, you may be better off buying bags of frozen fruit. Fruit destined for the freezer tends to be picked at the peak of ripeness, capturing more flavor (and nutrients) than its fresh counterparts. But in summer, it might be cheaper to buy fresh (if you can) and freeze it yourself.
Got a garden or fruit trees? Gone berry picking? Freezer smoothie packs are also a great way to use up all that fruit from the garden and pick-your-own berries you don't know what to do with.