The Genius Smoothie Prep Hack That Will Save So Much Time

Smoothies are absolutely delicious and can be the perfect vehicle to sneak in extra protein and vegetables for a healthy boost in a tasty way. The only downside, and for some, a significant downside, is the blender. Even the most user-friendly blenders require a good scrub after use. Add in the cutting board you used to cut fresh fruit, measuring cup, spoons, and rubber spatula, and you've got a sink full of dishes and a counter full of bags and jars that now have to be put away.

Enter the humble muffin pan — your ticket to easier smoothie prep. Simply blend your smoothie of choice, or even individual smoothie ingredients, portion into muffin cups, and freeze. Once frozen, remove the portions, and store in a freezer bag. Don't forget to label and date! It would be easier to remove your frozen smoothie cups from a silicone muffin pan, but a standard muffin pan will work just as well. You may just have to let the pan thaw on the counter or dip the bottom in warm water to get the portions to easily release. If you don't have a muffin pan and want to give this hack a try, use an ice cube tray instead.

You only need to use your blender once

You can absolutely put your frozen smoothie cups back into the blender to make a smoothie without dirtying extra dishes or unloading the whole pantry, but there's an even easier way. Place whatever flavor combination of smoothie cups you would like into a container with a tight-fitting seal, like a mason jar or a protein shaker bottle, and let defrost in the fridge overnight. In the morning, shake vigorously to combine and ta-da! You have a ready-to-drink smoothie. If you forget to plan ahead, you can also thaw at room temperature on the counter or defrost it in your bag on the way to work.

Another version of this hack has you freeze your blended smoothie directly into a mason jar, leaving room for the smoothie to expand. While this may be a good option for some, it can quickly become a drag to have the same combination multiple days in a row. Plus, a row of mason jars takes up quite a bit of space in the freezer. Smoothie cups made with single ingredients or specific blends allow you to mix and match while still saving lots of time on meal prep.

The options are endless

Prep your smoothies to suit what you crave throughout the week, so you can go bright and citrusy or rich and creamy, depending on your mood. Because you're blending and then freezing, you can take advantage of on-sale produce, and mix and match with frozen ingredients. No matter what you decide, you're not sacrificing on that creamy texture you only get from frozen fruit.

Use whatever liquid makes sense — dairy milk or milk alternatives, yogurt, coconut water, coffee, or brewed tea. Hearty additions like chia, flax, oats, protein powder, and dried fruits make a smoothie more filling. Add depth of flavor with vanilla, fresh herbs, cocoa powder, or citrus zest.

Try making blends with a mix of berries, or go tropical with mango and papaya. Citrus cups with grapefruit and oranges would add brightness to a smoothie, while banana smoothie cups add natural creaminess and sweetness. Introduce nuts or nut butters with combinations like cherry and almond, avocado and cashew, or peanut and strawberry. But don't forget your veggies! Make vegetable-enhanced smoothie cups with leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard, which go great with berries. Earthier vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, and beets are awesome with tropical fruits and citrus. Bright and refreshing cucumber and celery go well with ingredients like pineapple, grapes, apple, and ginger. 

Smoothies can be whatever you want them to be, especially with this time-saving hack. Let your creativity run wild, and drink your fruit!