We’re talking about the ins and outs of freezer smoothies that are practically packable for school lunches for this month’s back-to-school Eat Well, Spend Less.
Everything is back-to-school this month. While my kids don’t go back until after Labor Day, I know that in some parts of the country school is already back in session.
Even with weeks to go before our launch date, the store aisles proudly proclaim the dawn of a new year of education. Brightly colored folders and boxes of crisp new crayons, their points as sharp as they will ever be, are on display. The distinct plastic smell of pencil boxes and the warm scents of fresh paper stand at attention, not yet doodled on or folded, the edges form right corners.
On an adjacent aisle, tucked in near the backpacks, the lunch boxes line the lane. Stainless steel cylinders and sandwich square containers accompany them on the shelf; all you need do is fill them full of lunchtime treats. The question then is what to fill them with.
In our house, a school lunch staple is found in the freezer. While you may consider smoothies a breakfast item or a healthy snack midday, my favorite way to serve a smoothie is to stuff it in the lunchbox along with all the other tiny tins destined for the lunch table.
The Art of the Freezer Smoothie
It really is an art, this freezer smoothie business. Offering kids a break from the more traditional school lunch fare, a batch of freezer smoothies are easy to make ahead. I like filling the freezer with one or two varieties and adding them in to sparse lunches or towards the end of the week when packable produce in the house is running low.
Fruit- and vegetable-packed smoothies can also be a great way to offer the last season’s produce that you have stashed away in your freezer, too. This means all those berries you picked and froze or peaches you stashed have new purpose. Also, you may want to add to your collection if you have the room.
Here are a few tips for successful smoothie making:
- Freezer smoothies work best when they are extra thick – bananas, oats, and yogurt can help aid in this. Keep your solid-to-liquid ratio at about 4:1. Going into the container the mixture should be thick and scoopable if you’re making them with frozen fruit.
- Fill half-pint mason jars or freezer cups three-quarters full with the smoothie mixture. Then cover and freeze until completely solid, up to three months. Tuck the frozen smoothie into an insulated lunch bag with a small cold pack. Before eating, shake thoroughly.
- Fill ice cube trays with the smoothie mixture and freeze solid. Pop the smoothie ice cubes out and store in airtight containers in the freezer until ready to use. When packing lunch, prep a thermal container with ice water for 10 minutes. Pour the ice water out and add in the smoothie ice cubes until full. Seal the container and pack in your lunch. Shake thoroughly before enjoying.