Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Wonder of the Wonderbag: A Review

I was skeptical of the Wonderbag. First, cooking is not really my 'thing' and second, it looks more like a zafu meditation cushion than a culinary device. But a culinary device it is! The "Wonder" of the Wonderbag is the fact that this pillowy contraption is actually a slow cooker in disguise...and one which uses zero energy to boot. What the what?

My good friend Darcy was the first to tell me about the Wonderbag. I trust everything she recommends as she and I are equally thorough in our product selection so I knew I needed to consider it. Anything that makes cooking easier and/or less painful for me is a "win" in my book, so I decided to look a little further into it.

The Wonderbag is slightly more scientific than it looks, and is strategically designed to retain heat (or cold) for up to eight hours. With an insulated core that keeps heat from escaping, all you need to do is bring your food to a boil using conventional methods and then put it in the bag. Hours later and voila! your meal is not only fully cooked, but still piping hot. If that isn't compelling enough, the company is also socially responsible and for every bag purchased they donate a bag to a family in Africa. This company is making healthier, more sustainable meals all across the globe! After reading the incredible back story, reviews and getting input from fellow users, it was clear the Wonderbag made perfect sense for our boat. I reached out to the company to see if they would send us one and thankfully, they agreed.


WHAT I LOVE:

The first major advantage of the Wonderbag, for me, is the fact that I can cook dinner at noon. My girls nap every day from 12:30pm to about 2:30pm and this is literally the only time during daylight hours where I get anything productive done. I am usually out and about with the girls all morning and all afternoon, which means I am not home cooking. Come 4:45pm I am a harried and rushed mess trying to get our girls out of the pool/off the beach/back from the park and home in time to cook up something fast so I can get them bathed and in bed by 6:30pm. It's a little....hectic. Cooking on a small boat with three toddlers running amok is not exactly easy.

The Wonderbag changes all that.

The first meal I tried in my bag was my favorite go-to simple dish, one pot Mexican quinoa. I put the girls down for their naps and got to work. I followed the recipe, boiling the dish for 15 minutes or so and then plopping it in my Wonderbag. After wrangling the girls home from our afternoon outing, a hot meal was ready and waiting. No frantic thrown-together dinner. No rushing like mad because I needed to cook something, quick. We simply came home, showered up and ate. Sigh. I was sold.





The next meal I tried was a spinach lasagna. This one made me nervous because...well, lasagna made without the use of an oven? Strange. I found a recipe online, tweaked it slightly based on what I had available here, and got to work. Five hours later we had a delicious lasagna piping hot and ready to eat. Once again, I sang my gorgeous pillow-turned-cooking-contraption more praise.


I love that we use less energy to cook.

I love that I can leave food "cooking" on the boat without the worry of fire.

I love that, no matter what, the Wonderbag will not burn my food.

I love that I can cook at a time that is convenient for me.

I love that I can keep our girls out playing in nature, longer.

I just kind of love this thing.


WHAT I DON'T:

While the Wonderbag is amazing, it is a little on the large size which could be a problem for some smaller boats with less storage space. It resembles a giant pillow but, luckily, because it is "squish-able" is slightly easier to store. We have a small locker underneath a settee cushion where ours lives so it is not cumbersome or in the way in the slightest. Also, cooking with it can be a little tricky because water does not evaporate as it would over, say, a flame or in an oven. This means some recipes need a little tweaking. Luckily, the folks at Wonderbag have put together a great page on Tips and Tricks to help beginners like me. Like anything, I think the more I use this great product, the more efficient and easy it will be. They also have a fantastic Recipe Index with tried and true Wonderbag delights.


THE BOTTOM LINE:

I love my Wonderbag. For me, the fact that it keeps food warm for up to eight hours and allows me to cook meals at a time that is convenient for me is the only reason I need to own this thing. I LOVE IT.

Do you use a Wonderbag? Have any great recipes to share? Or is there another slow cooking method/product that you love aboard? Share in the comments if you wish!

4 comments:

Cheryl Geeting said...

Glad to hear you like it! I think we'll love ours, but I am worried about storage.

What size pot did you use? I need to buy a set for the boat .. any recommendations?

Alison Gieschen said...

My sister brought me one back from a visit to South Africa. I have been using it at home in preparation for bringing it on our boat when we become live-aboards. I find it amazing and encourage people who don't live on boats to give on a try. I used it the other day to take a hot dish to a holiday party. Did not have to use their oven or microwave with my dish. I took it out of the Wonderbag at dinner time, piping hot and ready to eat. Everyone was amazed. I have cooked roasts and chili in it - all came out superb. I wouldn't go to sea without one!

S.V. CAMBRIA said...

I've been looking forward to your review on the Wonderbag ever since you mentioned getting one. Some of the comments made by other cruisers and people online had me concerned about a couple of things. The first was cooking in general, but that sounds manageable with a few tweaks to recipes here and there. The other was its size. We have ample storage but, up until now, I wasn't sure it was worth taking the risk of buying one because of some of the negative reviews I'd read about how it cooks. Thanks for your input. It was really helpful!

Taipan said...

We Aboard Taipan have had one for a couple of years now and wouldn't go to sea without it!... By the by... its also great for making preserves.
http://svtaipan.blogspot.com/

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