You prepare the night before a 6:30 a.m. spin class and for that midweek brainstorm with your boss, so why not carry that same readiness to the kitchen? Smoothie packs—essentially ziplock bags or other reusable container filled with smoothie essentials ready to be tossed into a blender—are the genius way to make your mornings (and afternoons, and snack breaks) easier. Taking the Pinterest and Insta-worlds by storm, pre-packed smoothies not only look beautiful but also take away every excuse for not including the best of the best in your go-to blend. But what makes or breaks a freezer smoothie? The experts weigh in on how to make the perfect smoothie pack.
Perfect the ratio of solids to liquids.
"You have to consider whether you want to drink your smoothie through a straw or eat it with a spoon," says Marcus Antebi, founder and CEO of Juice Press. "Some people like super-thick smoothies and others enjoy their smoothies on the thin side. Every person is different."
Your typical smoothie base will contain one cup of fruit, one cup of leafy greens, four large ice cubes, and about two-thirds to one cup of liquid. Looking for something on the thicker side? Add some extra ice. While frozen fruits and vegetables definitely add to overall thickness, the last thing you want is to overload your sip with too much sugar.
"The mistake a lot of people make is putting too much fruit in," says Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D. "Max out at one cup of fruit to keep the sugar in check, and balance it out with the leafy greens to get in some fiber, too."
Use easily blendable ingredients.
Even the greatest, most powerful blenders, like Vitamix (the go-to choice at Juice Press), can use a little help now and then. No one likes lumps in their smoothies, so avoid that by slicing pre-blended frozen fruit and vegetables into bite-size pieces. You can keep most of your greens as-is, no need for an extra chop. (Looking for recipe inspiration? Try these eight slimming smoothies.)
Separate dry and wet ingredients.
Nutritionally speaking, nothing bad would happen to dry ingredients (think: protein powder) if you were to combine them with the rest of your smoothie ingredients in the freezer. However, to get the most out of your blend, Rumsey suggests making two separate smoothie packs: one that goes in the freezer and another that holds all powders and seeds.
"A lot of the time, dry ingredients can end up sticking to the bag if you combine them ahead of time with your fruits," says Rumsey. "You don't want to lose essential nutrients and ingredients in the transfer from container to blender." (Get the scoop on protein powder, here.)
There's nothing better than having free rein over your smoothie to add (or not add) whatever you want. Never tried avocado in a smoothie before? Now's as good a time as any. "Be creative," says Antebi, simply. "Even frozen squash and sweet potato can add natural sweetness and a creamy texture to your smoothie."
Let fat be your friend.
While the idea of adding avocado may have come from a spark of creativity, it also helps add healthy fat to your drink. While you may be programmed to think that all fat is bad, that just isn't so! If you want your smoothie to hold you over for a few hours, and especially if you're using it as a meal replacement, you need to make sure you're getting all the essential nutrients—and that includes healthy fats.
"Both fat and protein are important for a satiable smoothie," says Rumsey. "Instead of opting for 0 percent fat versions of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, get 2 percent. Put some into ice cube trays, let them sit overnight, and then add those ice cubes to your smoothie packs."