I love my Crock Pot. Granted, I lug it out almost as often as I lug out my ice cream maker or Ronco Rotisserie (meaning almost never other than the first two weeks I owned them when I used them constantly). But whenever I do have a slow cooked meal it’s always heavenly. I can’t go back to cooking beef stew any other way.
The Wonderbag is an ingenious product that’s a slow cooker just like your Crock Pot, except that it doesn’t use any electricity. No plugs, no cords, nothing. You basically bring your dish to a boil on the stove in a pot, place it (pot and all) in the bag, and then just plop it down on a counter or anywhere else. For the next 4-12 hours your food will continue to cook, thanks to the clever way the bag is insulated. Any pot from two to nine quarts will work; cast-iron pots like ones from Le Creuset will work the best.
Unlike with the Crock Pot, you’re not running electricity all day, so it’s friendlier to the environment. And you’ll be amazed that just like with the Crock Pot, your food will come out steaming and ready to eat.
There are a ton of uses for these. If you’re entertaining during the holidays and only have one Crock Pot, why not use this Wonderbag as its “understudy” to cook larger quantities (you can even do a “taste test” between the two). Or, take one camping with you and instead of cooking pork and beans on the fire, upscale it to butternut squash soup (it comes with some great recipes). You can also steam rice in an hour.
While they’re cleverly pivoting the marketing of Wonderbag to sell as a kitchen appliance for us with first-world problems like wanting to save money on our electricity bills or wanting the novelty of cooking without electricity, Wonderbag actually got its start in the third world to solve much more important problems. Specifically, in many areas of Africa and the Middle East, there is no access at all to energy. Charcoal is expensive, so many people have to cut down trees, resulting in deforestation. Both charcoal and wood cause smoke inhalation. And women usually are the ones who are left to forage for wood and cook, meaning that girls who could otherwise be in school can’t be. And worse, often when women and girls have to wander farther and farther away to forage, they are open to attacks.
South African entrepreneur Sarah Collins and poverty activist Moshy Mathe designed Wonderbag to help societies like these. Hundreds of thousands of Wonderbags have been distributed to countries like South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Syria, and Jordan. It’s saved poor families upwards of 30% of their household income, provided for healthier air to breathe, and reduces time cooking which opens up more time to raise kids and get educated. A side benefit is that because the Wonderbag “locks” moisture in, which means less water (another precious commodity) is wasted. Another side benefit is that because food is simmered and not cooked on an open fire, less food gets burned and wasted.
They’re still distributing Wonderbags to the poor, and that’s another reason you should buy one: for every one you buy, one will be donated to a poor household. So what we might see as a relatively inexpensive novelty could be a life-changing gift for someone on the other side of the globe.
The Wonderbag comes in three colors and costs under $55. It’ll make a great gift for the cook in your life who already have everything else. You can get yours here.