Full disclosure: I was given this product for free in exchange for the review.
Yesterday I revealed that FoodiEvangelist is delighted to be doing our first product review AND giveaway!! And I talked a bit about how this is a product our family has been waiting for for a long time.
After playing with these pouches for a few days – filling them, feeding them to my kids, washing them, and taking them on-the-go – I have found a lot to love about them. I’ve also got a few tips for you if you choose to get your own (or are the lucky winner of our giveaway!). And I’ve even got a couple ideas for Squooshi itself – I know you guys are listening!
(Skip to the bottom for a bullet list of pros & cons if you don’t want to read my fascinating-but-lengthy narrative review.)
The Squooshis arrive!
So the first thing you’re gonna notice about these pouches is that they are really freaking adorable. I appreciate the effort they put into making the product cute (usually my son just has some company’s name hanging out the end of his gob).
cloth bag for the 4 pack
They feel a little flimsy but they held up very well to everything I put in them. I wound up deciding that the Panda was my favorite design, not only because it is the cutest, but also, practically speaking, it is mostly translucent – which makes it easier to see the gunk inside when you’re cleaning. More on that later.
I received an Assorted Four Pack, the same item that we’ll be giving away (check back tomorrow for instructions on how to win!). This was a set of two large (4.5 oz) pouches and two small (2.5 oz) pouches, in each of their four animal designs. They arrived in a nice little reusable sack for storage. I believe I already lost it, but it was a nice touch.
Another thing I am sure I will be losing: the little caps. They are necessary for filling the pouches (you fill upside down, from the bottom – the big end – which then zips closed), and they are, thankfully, interchangeable between the sizes. Already one step ahead of me, Squooshi sells replacements. I also happened to have an old cap from a disposable pouch (probably a Plum Organics) in the bottom of the diaper bag, and that fit as well. Whew.
add your own spices!
kids eat better when they help with prep – plus it’s fun!
My daughter and I couldn’t wait to try them out, so we grabbed our organic applesauce from the fridge and doctored it with cinnamon just like she loves. Already I’m happy that I’m not spending the usual 50 cents on an applesauce pouch, and double happy that this one is twice the size of the ones I usually buy.
If you’re short on time, just throwing store-bought applesauce in these babies is still going to save you money and the kids are still going to have more fun (and make less mess) eating it than they normally would.
And then, our first snag: in my excitement I hadn’t read the directions very carefully and I overfilled the first pouch. You have to keep it at 3/4 full or less. Lesson learned. You also have to make sure you clean out the zipper part at the bottom so you can get a good tight seal. I was really anal about this for the first few rounds, and I decided my finger was the best tool for the job (I guess you could use a paper towel but then you un-do the environmental goodness; and my dishrags are always dirty). So if, like me, you tend to lick your fingers when cooking, make sure you don’t add anything to the pouch that you’re not especially fond of (e.g. bananas, for me).
ANYWAY…as it turns out, the seal is good. On another day we took them out in the lunch bag, and they didn’t spill at all. I was worried about that the whole time, but my worries were unnecessary.
inhaled this in 5 seconds
So Maggie sucked the first (small) pouch right up – so quickly, in fact, that I was relieved I hadn’t spent a long time working on its contents. Right away I figured out that the small pouches were going to be too small for my kids. They would probably be great for a baby’s first foods. But my kids are half past 2 and 4, and they have healthy appetites. If you have preschoolers too, I’d definitely recommend the large pouches.
Another point about the smalls: I found it more difficult to fill them and to clean them (both cleaning the zipper to seal it and then later cleaning the whole thing). I’m really hands-on and I guess my fingers are just too fat to go in those little pouches! I much prefer working with the larger size. I’ll bet an even larger size would work for me & my kids, too! (are you listening, Squooshi?)
For our next experiment we went with a full-on, homemade smoothie. But I’ve talked a lot so I’m gonna just let you enjoy this one in a series of oh-so-fun photos…
The ingredients: leftover rejected breakfast, local honey, organic yogurt, farmer’s market strawberries, wild blueberries, and yes spinach because I am THAT kind of parent
Worried it was not thick enough, I added banana. Mistake. I never like banana in smoothies b/c it overwhelms everything else, and son felt the same way. Lesson: it is not the pouch’s fault if you can’t cook.
STILL worried about thickness, added oats. Later found recipe card that was included in package (oops), which suggested cooking oats. Ahhh…smart. Oh well. Blender mashed ‘em fine. And hey, this is getting REALLY healthy!
Finally dared to add this to the pouches, even though it still seemed runny. Dang, it’s hard to make a thick smoothie! Anyway it was fine…no spilling at all!
finally a flash of brilliance – using a FUNNEL! Just a little tap-tap of the lid on the counter fills it up quick.
Satisfied customer…and the larger size meant that the time it took paid off – in that snacktime lasted more than a few seconds. Actually, he didn’t even finish this – so I threw it in the fridge for later!
OK, hope that was a nice break from my chatter.
So my biggest worry with these things was how to get them clean. I know from experience that anything with strawberry seeds and/or yogurt in it is very difficult to get clean. I’ve destroyed many a reusable straw & cup with those ingredients.
Therefore I am being very anal about religiously washing these out every time I use them, before anything dries inside. Even when we took them to the zoo, we all tromped into the bathroom and rinsed out the pouches after snack. I can’t speak to how well they clean up in other circumstances because I just wasn’t willing to try.
However, I have been delighted with how easily they have been rinsing out and how, with just a little soap and warm water (even in a zoo bathroom!), they come pretty clean without too much effort. It helps to seal them up with the soapy water inside and squish it around a bit. I even let a small amount of soapy water slosh around in them all the way home from the zoo. When we got back, voila! Clean!
HINT: while drying, turn a large spoon sideways inside so they stay open. They’ll dry faster and this will keep anything weird from growing inside.
This is where the animal patterns come into importance – the Panda is the most see-through of the pouches, and thus it is much easier to see when it’s all clean inside. As for the straggling bits of this-and-that stuck to the inners & outers, I was especially frustrated with trying to clean the small one with my too-big bottle brush.
But then, a moment of sheer genius: my daughter was due for a new toothbrush and I realized her old one was perfect for getting right into all those little corners, plus brushing off the slim grooves in the cap device. WOW! I am really very pleased with myself for figuring this one out, and I offer you that tip freely – no attribution required.
By the way, they will go in the dishwasher, but in my experience this has taken the pictures off other products, breaks down plastics over time, and most importantly, doesn’t do much against dried-on smoothie (especially in nooks & crannies). So I suggest handwashing. With your kids’ toothbrush. Preferably after you buy kid a new one.
My only pseudo-disappointment with the Squooshi pouches is something that is obvious and unavoidable – and, ironically, part of their appeal: that the contents are always going to be fresh. This means that you can’t keep them in the pantry and you can’t throw them in the diaper bag and forget about them. You can freeze them – and they did defrost much faster than I expected – so this is a viable option as long as you remember to take them out of the freezer before kiddo is screaming for a snack.
If I had my druthers, I’d probably just buy one of the larger sets of the big ones, make contents in bulk, and keep a bunch of them in the freezer. I wish I could just get Pandas, though…(hint, hint).
For those of you “not into the whole brevity thing,” I hope this has been helpful and interesting. For those preferring bullet points, here ya go:
- Complete control over what goes in your child’s mouth – you can make it organic, local, fresh, and as healthy as you want (or as your child will eat!). Great use for all those CSA greens – hide ‘em in smoothies. A wonderful way to help develop your child’s palate!
- BPA, PVC, and Phthalate-free…unlike many other baby food products, unfortunately.
- They save lots of money! [single-use pouches run $1 on sale these days and up to $1.89 each]
- Absolutely too cute – love love love the designs!
- Kids will eat a lot of stuff (read: veggies) in a pouch, even if they won’t normally touch it. You know they’ve gotten at least one good serving of something healthy.
- Less waste = better for the earth and therefore our kids.
- Saving money!
- Handy and fun for all ages. I don’t think my kids will outgrow them, and I already know they’re great in a lunchbox.
- I found myself finishing off the smoothie that didn’t fit in the pouches, so they helped me eat a healthier snack than normal too!
- Overall pretty easy to clean, no special equipment required (except snagging your kids’ toothbrush).
- Did I mention saving the money?
- Small size difficult to fill & clean – but also not enough food for my kids anyway, so I wasn’t very motivated to figure out how to work with it.
- The caps are easy to lose (but also replaceable).
- Not shelf stable (yes I just listed freshness as a con…sigh). Nothing to be done about that, it’s just the reality of real food.
- Have to think ahead to defrost (but does do quickly), and have to prepare ahead (though in a pinch, some spiced-up applesauce is a great filler and still saves money!).
- Your smoothie ideas may suck (like mine) – but fortunately the Squooshi site’s blog has a growing list of recipes!
- The whole endeavor takes time and effort. But if you invest in a decent number of them and freeze large quantities, you can mitigate this problem somewhat.
To sum up:
Squooshis are, like so many eco-friendly parenting choices, a commitment more than a convenience. But if you are willing to commit, I truly believe you will be doing right by your kids’ health, the earth, and your wallet.
Come back tomorrow for a GIVEAWAY of an Assorted Four Pack just like I tried for this review!