If you’ve not heard of a Wonderbag, then you’re about to be mind blown! This non-electric slow cooker is not only a superbly effective way to cook camping meals for big groups, it’s also the answer to some of the world’s social and environmental problems.
This Wonderbag review will take you through what it is, why it’s great and who it’s for. You’ll also find a yummy Mexican stew recipe to tempt you!
- What is a Wonderbag slow cooker?
- Who is a Wonderbag for?
- An eco-friendly slow cooker
- What can you cook in a Wonderbag?
- Potato and black bean Mexican stew Wonderbag recipe
- The Wonderbag verdict
What is a Wonderbag slow cooker?
A Wonderbag is essentially an insulated fabric bag whose lining is filled with recycled chipped foam for maximal heat retention. They come in different sizes to hold different sized pots. The size you opt for depends on how many people you predominantly cook for.
A Wonderbag slow cooker is a cooking device like no other. There’s no electricity, gas or fire needed to cook food in it. In fact, no fuel is needed at all. Just the simple and highly effective magic of insulation.
It’s important to note that you can’t cook meals in a Wonderbag from scratch. You need a heat source to start off the cooking process and to bring the food up to the boil. This is similar to cooking with a regular electric slow cooker; you need to brown off meat and soften beans etc before you put them in the slow cooker.
How does a Wonderbag work?
Wonderbags are impossibly simple! The insulation retains the heat produced in the initial cooking process and continues to cook food for up to 12 hours.
Here’s how you use a Wonderbag:
- Bring your meal to the boil on a separate heat source, simmer then remove from the heat.
- Lay a cloth or some newspaper in the bottom of the Wonderbag to protect the bag from the heat of the pot.
- Place the whole pot of food inside the Wonderbag.
- Put the insulated lid on top of the pot of food and cinch in the drawstring tightly.
- Leave the pot of food inside the Wonderbag for up to 12 hours, depending on the recipe.
So simple, yet so effective.
Who is a Wonderbag for?
Wonderbags were initially created to solve the ever-growing problems associated with cooking food over fires in some of Africa’s most vulnerable communities.
Every day, more than 3 billion people cook over an open fire jeopardizing their health, causing widespread deforestation and burdening women and girls with hours of unpaid labor
The creation of the Wonderbag provides a cheaper and more energy efficient way of cooking food, saving money and time.
And the best part, is that for every purchase of the Women4Women bundle, Wonderbag donates a Wonderbag to a woman in Africa.
But these magical insulated bundles of energy are also excellent for campers, glampers, group cooking, outdoor cooking and at-home cooking.
Cooking camping meals with a Wonderbag
Wonderbags are a superb way of cooking camping meals. They’re especially great if you compile a meal at home, stick it in a Wonderbag and then drive to camp. By the time you get there the wondrous insulation will have worked its magic to create a hot, tender and delicious ready-made meal to set you up for the rest of the trip.
They’re also great if you plan to be away from camp for the whole day. Prepare your meal in the morning and you will seriously thank yourself when you get back to camp, exhausted from a day of adventuring, to find your friendly little cooking assistant has finished the cooking for you!
Cooking group meals with a Wonderbag
Where using a Wonderbag really comes into its own is when outdoor cooking for a crowd. Firstly, because you’ve prepared and started cooking the meal well ahead of time, the stress of serving up on time is eliminated. Those hungry hikers can be fed right on time!
Secondly, you can fit very large pots inside a Wonderbag. There are different sizes to choose from but if you know you’ll be mostly cooking for big groups then opt for a medium or large. This will allow you to create one pot meals for a crowd without the drama of keeping the fire going for hours or wasting a ton of camping gas.
An electric slow cooker replacement
As well as camping, outdoor cooking and group meals, a Wonderbag is also an excellent at-home cooking method. Those who cook regularly in an electric slow cooker will know how amazing they are from a time-saving point of view. Slow cooker meals also taste great creating tender, rich and flavoursome meals, just like a Wonderbag!
And although you don’t get the same level of control over the temperature inside a Wonderbag, just imagine the energy that you’ll save by not powering your electric slow cooker for hours.
An eco-friendly slow cooker
Aside from the social impact on vulnerable women in Africa, the environmental benefits of using a Wonderbag are incredible. In communities where cooking over fire is the norm, one Wonderbag used over a year:
- Reduces up to 1.5 tons of carbon emissions
- Reduces exposure to indoor air-pollution by up to 60%
- Saves five trees annually from being cut down to prevent deforestation
- Reduces fuel costs for cooking by up to 80%
- Saves over 1000 litres of water
So even if you use a Wonderbag only once a week, you’ll be significantly reducing your fuel usage and positively impacting the environment.
What can you cook in a Wonderbag?
Now to the really important stuff: what can you cook in a Wonderbag?
The short answer is anything that you can cook in a slow cooker. This includes:
- Rice pudding
- Porridge oats
And lots more! Check out these Wonderbag recipes for more ideas.
The cooking times vary from meal to meal. And the more you use it the better you’ll get at knowing how long things take.
Potato and black bean Mexican stew Wonderbag recipe
I adapted the Wonderbag breakfast burritos recipe to create this hearty and spicy stew that’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser!
Stove top cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Wonderbag time: 5 hours
- 1 thumb of fresh ginger, finely diced
- 1 red chilli, finely diced
- 2 or 3 spring onions, sliced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbs buckwheat flour or any other flour
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tbs maple syrup
- 1 tin black beans, drained
- xx potatoes, quartered
- 1 tin tomatoes
- 2 or 3 cups vegetable stock
- Saute the ginger, chilli and spring onions in some oil or garlic oil for a minute or two.
- Add the diced peppers and saute for another minute.
- Stir in the spices, flour and tomato paste and add a splash of water to create a paste.
- Stir the black beans into the paste, then do the same with the potatoes.
- Stir in the tin of tomatoes and top up with vegetable stock so that the potatoes are ¾ covered.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes then remove from the heat.
- Place in the Wonderbag for 5 hours.
- Top with fresh coriander, avocado chopped tomatoes and cheese, and serve with corn tortillas.
The Wonderbag verdict
The Wonderbag is a phenomenally effective way of cooking great food for large groups either at home or at camp. It cuts cooking time, saves fuel and water and takes the stress out of cooking for large groups, not to mention the social and environmental benefits.
Cooking with one can take a bit of getting used to and I recommend using it at home a few times before you rely on it when you don’t have the oven as backup when things don’t go to plan! But the more you use one, the more you’ll understand how wondrous they really are! And before you know it, you’ll never need to use your electric slow cooker again!
The main downside is that they are big to store. But they do double as cushions rather nicely, if you’re struggling for cupboard space!
So get your Wonderbag today and while you’re at it, spread the word about this innovative and highly impactful alternative cooking method.
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