Making a smoothie isn’t rocket science, but consistently making ones that are nutritious, tasty and efficient can be a bit of a challenge when you’re busy. Here are 10 of our top smoothie hacks for becoming a veritable smoothie machine.
1. Use your ice cube tray
Rather than adding ice to your smoothies (which helps the texture, but waters it down), freeze the liquid you’d use for smoothies, like milk or coconut water. When you’re ready to blend, simply halve the amount of liquid you’d use, then pop in a few “milk cubes” to add flavor and to give your smoothie a nice frosty texture. This mango dream smoothie is great with frozen soymilk.
2. Stock your freezer with fruit and greens
When produce isn’t widely available, large bags of store-bought frozen fruit are the way to go. But if your CSA box, garden or farmers market is overflowing with berries or greens in the summer, save some for future smoothies.
Wash, prep and portion out fresh fruit and greens when you buy them, then put what you won’t use within 2 to 3 days on sheet pans in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, transfer to plastic bags.
3. Make smoothie freezer packs
Another way to use the freezer is to bag everything up in smoothie batches, like in this Frozen Green Smoothie System (you can make a month’s worth of green smoothies in an hour!). Simple 3-Ingredient Smoothie Freezer Packs are also a great way to make smoothies quick and painless.
4. Prep the Night Before
Put everything into the blender pitcher and pop it in the fridge at night. In the morning, just grab the pitcher out of the blender, add any remaining ingredients and whirl up your breakfast smoothie. Items that will get soggy or brown, like granola, avocado and apples, should be tossed in right before blending.
5. Blend up about-to-turn produce
Have an avocado that’s about to go bad and you won’t have a chance to use? Put it in a smoothie to add fiber and omega-3s—and to minimize kitchen waste.
Ditto with browning bananas: Throw them into the blender with your greens and soymilk, or pop them in the freezer for a flavorful smoothie thickener later.
6. Make big batches of make-ahead smoothies
Have some mason jars and produce to spare? Make a big batch of smoothies ahead and freeze them—simply thaw out in the fridge the night before.
7. Don’t forget the veggies
Add flavor and nutrients without as much sugar (or as many calories) by experimenting with veggie smoothies. You can even use frozen vegetables, or simply add in some greens, carrot juice or bell peppers to a fruit smoothie.
8. Smoothie Pops
Coconut milk + chia seeds + fruit and veggies of your choice = a satisfying, nutritious treat for summer. Or for when you don’t feel like making a smoothie from scratch.
9. Liquid first
For easier blending, put about 1/2 to 3/4 of your liquid in first, then layer in fresh or frozen ingredients. This gives the blades room to get moving, and will decrease the number of times you need to stop and stir. Drizzle in more liquid as your smoothie blends.
10. Buy a better blender (+ make cleaning easy)
It’s easy to be tempted by the cheapies you find at discount stores, but a higher-end blender like this Ninja one will make your life so much easier (and it won’t seize up every time you try to blend frozen fruit).
Make sure to buy one with a blade that just pops out for easier cleaning. Or let the blade work for you – fill the blender with water, add a squirt of dish soap and blend away! In addition to smoothies, it can sub in as a food processor.130