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I love the Wonderbag 02/07/11

Laura Cooke tests out the Wonderbag energy-efficient cooking solution and is blown away by super fluffy rice.

When the Wonderbag folk told me that I’d “never cook rice any other way again!” I was intrigued. Considering how much rice I cook on a weekly basis, I was curious as to whether my life would be revolutionised by a simple drawstring bag filled with polystyrene beads. But, they seemed pretty confident and I was happy to put the Wonderbag to the test.

Heat retention insulation Wonderbag cooker

The Wonderbag has arrived. Complete with easy recipes and info pack!

What is the Wonderbag?
The Wonderbag is a heat-retention/insulation cooker that works like any slow cooker. But it uses no electricity, gas or other fuel and greatly reduces the amount of stove time needed for slow cooking recipes.

This is definitely not new technology and in the past, many kitchens had their own “hotbox”, but is not a common practice in most modern kitchens. (Ed’s note: I have seen the same concept used when hiking in the mountains. Instead of a Wonderbag, you can wrap your pot in your sleeping bag. But you do risk getting rice in your bed if others are not aware of what you’re doing!)

The Wonderbag is largely aimed at making a difference to countries and communities with “high poverty rates, a shortage of fuel supplies, a high incidence of health problems associated with air pollution, and/or injuries resulting from fuel fires.” Considering how easy and effective it was in my first rice attempt, I don’t think that this is something that should be relegated to poverty stricken areas.

But let’s get down to business and go through the process of using the wonderful Wonderbag.

How to cook your rice
1. Bring your rice to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes on the stovetop. (Use 1 cup rice to 1 cup water as a general rule)

Wonderbag insulation cooker

2. Put a tight fitting lid on your pot and pop it in the Wonderbag.

3. Keep your rice covered for 30 minutes.

My first attempt resulted in perfect, fluffy rice.

Once cooked, I left my rice in the Wonderbag for an additional hour and the pot was still hot when we were ready to eat.

But, it’s not just useful for rice. You can cook a variety of meals. The creators, Natural Balance, have a list of recipes on their website which I still need to try out. These include spicy chickpeas, sweet potato and spinach curry and beetroot salad. I will keep you posted as I try them out.

The verdict? Buy one. It is an amazing addition to the kitchen.

The Official Top Wonderbag Tips:

  • Be careful to not add too much liquid to your dishes. Remember, no steam escapes during the cooking process, hence the food will be watery if there’s too much liquid to start off with. This is especially true for rice – too much water will leave the rice waterlogged.
  • Use the right size pot for the amount of food you want to cook. Heat is retained more effectively when the pot is full.
  • Place a dish cloth in the bottom of the bag to keep it clean and to protect the fabric.
  • Do not use a heavy cast-iron pot. It could be too hot and cause the polystyrene balls to melt.
  • Casseroles transferred directly from the oven to the Wonderbag should not be hotter than 180°C.
  • The Wonderbag is a wonderfully efficient warming oven. It keeps heated plates and prepared meals warm for considerable periods of time.
  • Instead of wrapping avocados in newspaper to ripen, simply leave them in your Wonderbag™ for a day or two.
  • Take your Wonderbag with when you go shopping to prevent ice cream and other frozen foodstuffs from defrosting on your way home.
  • Use your Wonderbag when you have to transport cold or frozen foodstuffs. It keeps frozen chicken pieces frozen for 12 hours.

Product Prices

  • Small Wonderbag

Big enough to hold a pot with a 1.5 litre capacity, the small Wonderbag is ideal for a meal for one or to bring your lunch box to work.
Price: R70 each

  • Standard Wonderbag

The standard bag can hold pots ranging in size from 3-12 litres, and is perfect for most domestic kitchens.
Price: R170 each

  • Catering Wonderbag

These super-sized Wonderbag can hold a pot of up to 25 litres and are ideal for special event catering such as weddings, funerals and celebrations, or for care-giving organisations such as old age homes, children’s homes and feeding schemes.
Price: R450 each

  • Branded Wonderbag

For corporate or business clients, Natural Balance brand Wonderbags by embroidering their logo on the lid.
Price: R20 added to the prices quoted above.

Contact details
Web: www.naturalbalancesa.com
Email: sales@naturalbalancesa.com
Tel: +27 11 442 2767
Cell phone number: +27 78 386 6204
Address: Unit 10, Fire Station Building, 27 Bath Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg

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Written by 

Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Buntch website and community.

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17 Responses to this article

Roline February 7, 2011 Reply

That looks great! I’ve always wanted to give these babies a run…(also your meal looks quite delightful!) Do you have pics of the smaller Wonderbags to get a good idea for storage capacity etc?

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editor February 7, 2011 Reply

Thanks. The meal is actually an adaptation of Lee-Anne’s recipe ( I used rice instead of couscous). http://veggiebunch.co.za/butter-beans-tzatziki-couscous/

I will see if I can get some pics that show the scale of the little bag.

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JL February 7, 2011 Reply

That’s pretty amazing! I’ll have to check out the site to see if they are available in the U.S.!

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editor February 7, 2011 Reply

It really is great! I will see if I can find out if there are any U.S distributers.

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editor March 6, 2011

Hi JL,

I spoke to the Wonderbag people and while they don’t have a US distributor, if you contact them directly they can arrange to send one over. Obviously you would have to pay for postage though.

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JL goes Vegan March 6, 2011

Thanks for the follow-up!

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MArguerite May 28, 2011 Reply

Swartland Municipality bought wonderbags for all indigent households in the municipal area, in order to relieve the burden of increase in electricity rates. Thanks to the NGO Goedgedacht Trust who came with the brilliant idea and who are providing work to women making these amazing bags.

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Editor: Laura May 29, 2011 Reply

That is such a great initiative. I am sure that it is going to make a significant difference to the community. Keep us posted!

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Michelle December 13, 2011 Reply

HI there I am selling the wonderbag. I use it myself for cooking and it is the most amazing product I have ever come across. I will gladly try and get these bags out to as many people as I possibly can. I hope you can help me and suggest some people I can talk to.

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Editor: Laura December 22, 2011 Reply

Hi there,

Do you ship overseas? Perhaps you could help Susan who is interested in getting one delivered to the States?


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Krysite August 2, 2012 Reply

I am interested in getting a wonderbag. Can you email me with the cost. I live in USA

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Patsy February 23, 2013 Reply

Hi Michelle, do you ship to Australia? thanks

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Susan December 21, 2011 Reply

I am interested in a medium wonderbag but they are not for sale here in the U.S. yet. I am interested in the price and shipping (in U.S. $ if possible) Thank you!!

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Jamie August 3, 2012 Reply

I have a wonder bag and it is truly amazing. Not only can you cook in them but you can keep cold things cold. I showed a group of women at church how to make these and for an example I brought something hot in one bag and something cold in the other. I had 1 gal of ice cream in it that after10 hours or so in the bag in my hot car had ice crystals on the container. amazing. I have not seen a bag with a draw string before. How do you make those?

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Patsy February 22, 2013 Reply

Can you please advise me how I could purchase one. I live in Australia. Manythanks.

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Laura Cooke – Editor February 22, 2013 Reply

Hi there,

Please email uksales@nb-wonderbag.com for advice on international sales.


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Sandra June 10, 2013 Reply

Hi there
Do you have any distributers in Pretoria for the Wonderbag?

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