Is your morning smoothie breaking the bank?
Bright green, superfood-packed smoothies are health-supportive and nutritious, no doubt, but the rising popularity of pricey superfood ingredients might not be so beneficial to your wallet.
Here are some tried and tested ways to keep your morning smoothie nutrient-dense and superfood-stocked while on a budget.
With a little creativity and thinking outside the blender we can come up with inexpensive ways to make healthy smoothies that energize and nourish.
1. Skip the protein powder and use leftovers.
Plant-based protein powders are trendy smoothie additions, often offering a lot more than just protein. Vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and digestive enzymes are just a few things you can find in the newest generation of protein powders.
The truth is, however, if you're eating a whole foods diet with a combination of cooked and raw foods, whole grains, legumes, and essential fats, you likely don't need to rely on protein powders for additional nutrients.
If, however, you like to use these powders to add protein to your morning blend, I suggest experimenting with cooked grains, beans, and legumes to bump up the amino acid profile of your smoothie. This is a shift in thinking but very practical, affordable, and still delicious.
Consider adding ¼ to ½ cup of cooked lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, buckwheat, or a combination of these grains and beans to your morning smoothie. You may need to play with the ratios of ingredients to get a texture you like.
Using grains and legumes in smoothies is especially convenient if you have these foods the night before for dinner. Try this Strawberry Lentil and Quinoa Smoothie.
2. Buy the outcasts and freeze your own berries.
At the grocery store and your nearest market you'll often find berries and other fruits on clearance because they're reaching their expiration date. Consider this an opportunity to save yourself some moola.
When you get them home, wash; trim off any questionable parts; chop, slice, or dice (depending on the fruit); lay flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; and place in your freezer. Once frozen, pop the fruit into a freezer-safe bag or container for future blending.
This is often cheaper than buying pre-frozen berries.
3. Make your own omega-3 superfood mix.
Omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids that we need from our diet to support our nervous system, immune system, and hormone levels. Phenomenal plant-based sources of these anti-inflammatory fats are what I call the super seeds: chia, flax, and hemp seeds.
Premixed and packaged chia/flax powders are a popular purchase for smoothie making, but they aren't cheap.
However, you can save a ton by purchasing these seeds separately and grinding them yourself. Using a coffee grinder, grind a 1:1 mix of flax and chia seeds; add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your next smoothie.
Store in a sealed, dark container in your fridge for up to a week.
4. Don't forget first-generation superfoods.
New superfoods on the block like moringa, camu camu powder, and chlorella are all phenomenal blender additions, but so are most of the other fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle.
All the colors, textures, and flavors provide an array of phytonutrients that can boost the health factor of your smoothie.
The superfood du jour will often cost a bit more, so look around and choose less sexy, but equally nutritious, options. Fruits like oranges and kiwis or green veggies like broccoli and beet greens are bursting with antioxidants and phytonutrients and often have a cheaper price tag.
5. Swap milk for water.
Nondairy milks like almond milk and rice milk can get expensive if you're using a cup or more every morning in your blender concoction. I've started using half water/half almond milk when I realized I was going through 4 liters of almond milk a week!
You will sacrifice very little in terms of taste and consistency especially if you are using texture game changers like bananas and nut butters.
The bottom line is your smoothie can reach superfood status without the superfood price tag.
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