I have a theory. It’s that everyone wants to eat well (meaning: healthier, better-for-you, more nutrient dense foods) on a regular basis. But sometimes it feels too damn hard to plan, prepare, and cook your own meals at home. The solution? Meal prep. And the easiest place to start is with just one meal a day – something quick and easy, with simple ingredients, and minimal time investment. Which makes this Berry Green Smoothie the perfect place to start.
Smoothie freezer prep couldn’t be simpler. You just pre-portion out the ingredients you’d normally need to add to the blender (all the ones that are freezer friendly), seal them in some bags, and store them in your freezer until you’re ready to use them. Then add fresh ingredients like almond milk (liquid makes blending much easier) and Greek yogurt (an awesome source of protein), turn on your blender, and that.is.it. Just like that and you’ve made yourself a healthy, portable, sippable meal. All ready in mere minutes.
And because these servings are stored in the freezer, they will keep even longer than your normal meal prep leftovers. So if you skip a day or decide you want to make fresh scrambled eggs that morning instead, it gives you a little flexibility to make that impulsive change without having to feel like you let anything go to waste.
This healthy Berry Green Smoothie recipe makes a great breakfast on-the-go. But it is also a super satisfying snack to indulge in before or after your workout. I love that it has an awesome balance of all three major macronutrients – delivering plenty of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to help you feel energized and full for hours. Plus, you’ll see from the ingredients list that it is naturally sweetened – which is always a bonus in my book.
And did I mention that it has some sneaky greens and hidden vegetables blended right in (like spinach and zucchini)?!
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Hold up. There’s ZUCCHINI in this smoothie??
Yep. You heard right. There IS indeed zucchini in this sweet smoothie recipe.
If you would’ve asked me a year ago if I would be game to put raw zucchini into my blender, my answer would have been a flat and firm – NO. But now, along with cauliflower, it’s my favorite way to add extra fiber and volume. And when you freeze it, it works even better. It contributes to creating that cold // thick // frozen // creamy texture we’ve come to expect in smoothies (without having to add ice, which changes the texture but waters down all the flavors).
Using greens and neutral flavored veggies (like spinach and zucchini) in smoothies provides you with some great vegetable fiber – which helps keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer than if you just had an all-fruit smoothie. Plus it’s a great way to sneak an extra something-green into a meal where you might not have it otherwise.
And to me, with the dark sweet berries and banana blended right in, the taste is undetectable. You won’t even know it’s in there (I mean you’ll know because you are the one who put it in there but you won’t know-know…ya know?).
MEAL PREP ORGANIZATION TIPS
Set up an assembly line to make your freezer meal prep smoothie bags. After prepping the zucchini and banana, set out the rest of your freezer bag ingredients. Also set out some measuring cups and measuring spoons. And make sure you have the recipe card handy that says how much you need of each ingredient. There’s nothing more frustrating than running back and forth from the kitchen to your computer to check an ingredient list. You can either print out a copy, scribble it down on a post-it, or make sure you have it pulled up on a screen you can see easily from your *prep station*.
Open all of your plastic bags and line them up – I find that grabbing the very top of the bag and turning that top inch inside out helps hold them open (without needing a partner to help you do it). Once you have added your first ingredient inside each bag, this will weigh the light baggies down and keep them in place more easily as you build them. Start with the heaviest ingredient first (like the frozen mixed berries) so that it has a better shot at anchoring them down.
SMOOTHIE CUP + STRAW CLEANING TIPS
Reusable straws and reusable drinking cups are amazing for the environment. I love the idea of taking on habits that produce less unnecessary waste in the world. But I also understand that they can be a royal pain in the you-know-what to clean. But I’ve got a few tips for you that I hope will make your eco-aware lifestyle a little happier.
If you’re going to pack this smoothie to-go (like to sip on in the car on your way to work or while out running errands) then I highly suggest you give the vessel + your reusable straw a quick rinse as soon as you’re done. If you can, find a place to swirl some water in your cup to wash out some of the residue. If you get it unstuck while it’s still moist, nearly all of the residual food particles will simply wash right out. Whatever doesn’t will be SO much easier to clean later on.
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If you forget or you just can’t find a place to do it, don’t stress. It won’t be stuck there forever, but it will dry out and crust onto the sides of your cup. When you get home, don’t try to scrub it and attack it while it’s like this. You’ll just get frustrated and spend more time than you need to trying to get it clean in one go. Instead, just fill it up with soapy water and let it soak in the sink for a while until the smoothie residue has loosened up and dissolved into the water. Then you’ll have an easier time giving it a final scrub.
I’ve also found that a straw and bottle brush cleaning kit is super helpful for making sure you get every nook and cranny of your reusable vessels squeaky clean. I use a 3-piece cleaning kit that has a long brush for reaching into the bottom corners of your bottle, a skinny brush for plunging into the length of your straw, and a small swoop-shaped detail brush for cleaning the inside of lids or caps. Saves me from having to get my hand stuck trying to jam it inside of a narrow bottle, or try (futilely, I might add) to reach those bottom corners with a regular sponge.
MEAL PREP STORAGE TIPS
Be sure to use a freezer-friendly plastic bag – if they are suited for freezer storage they will say so clearly on the box’s label. If you don’t use a bag that is heavy duty enough then you may be exposing your smoothie bags to some freezer burn – which affects the quality and taste of your food.
To further prevent freezer burn, press as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it. The easiest way to do this is to seal the bag almost all the way, leaving a small section unzipped. Then press the air out of the bag and while holding it pressed, seal the bag closed completely. This makes the smoothie bags very stackable and will help you save some storage space too.
I haven’t tried them out yet myself, but I’ve heard that there are also reusable plastic bags available. There’s a line of silicone bags that can even be used in the freezer that are made by the company Stasher that I’m super curious to try out. So far I’ve heard all great things about them and the reviews online look really positive.
Have any of you tried swapping single-use, disposable plastic bags for reusable alternatives like silicone bags? Would love for you to share your thoughts + eco-friendly product recommendations with me down in the comments!!
This healthy recipe for a Berry Green Smoothie is perfect for a breakfast on-the-go or as a snack before or after your workout! Perfect for weekly meal prep or for a single serving smoothie (see portions for both in the recipe ingredient list and recipe card notes).
for one single serve smoothie (see notes section for full 7-day meal prep amounts)
FREEZER BAG INGREDIENTS
- ¾ c mixed berries, frozen
- ½ banana
- ½ c zucchini
- 2 c baby spinach
- 2 tbs rolled oats
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- (optional) 1 pitted date*
FRESH BLENDER INGREDIENTS
- 1 c unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 c unsweetened Greek yogurt
- PREP THE FRUIT + VEGGIES: Remove and discard ends of the zucchini, then cut in half lengthwise and then half again – giving you 4 quarters. Chop into ½” pieces to create quarter moon shaped slices. Peel and slice bananas into ½” slices.
- ASSEMBLE THE BAGS: Layer mixed berries, zucchini, banana, spinach, oats, chia seeds (and date with pit removed, if using). Press as much air out of the bag as you can before sealing and placing in freezer. Stack multiple bags on top of one another to save space.
- BLEND SMOOTHIE: Take out on bag from freezer and add entire contents of the bag to your blender. Add almond milk and Greek yogurt on top. Blend and sweeten to taste. Enjoy immediately!
*SWEETENER OPTIONS – If you want to use a date to naturally sweeten your smoothie, then you can add these to your freezer bags. Or you can use a difference sweetener of choice (like maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut nectar, or stevia) which should be added along with the fresh blender ingredients.
GROCERY LIST FOR 7 DAYS OF SMOOTHIES:
- 5 ¼ c mixed berries, frozen
- 3 ½ bananas
- 5 c zucchini (about 2-3 large zucchini)
- 14 c baby spinach
- 7/8 c rolled oats
- 2 tbs + 1 tsp chia seeds
- 7 pitted dates (optional)
- 7 c unsweetened almond milk
- 2 1/3 c unsweetened Greek yogurt
- Serving Size: 1 smoothie