We’re a bit partial to a smoothie in this house. Well, I have my Nutribullet, and N will quite happily steal my smoothie if I leave it untended. But they’re not exactly portable without taking a huge bag with you. So when we were given the opportunity to try out a Smoothpack Station, I was really interested to see what it could do.
I have to admit, I did miss some of the point of it initially. I thought you’d also make the smoothie in the pack. But of course it’s not, it’s the means of filling refillable Smoothpacks (like the puree pouches that you can buy) with smoothies or baby purees that you’ve already made. I’ve heard of the refillable pouches before and liked the idea, so I was interested to see how easy the Smoothpack Station made it to fill pouches
N was into the box like a shot, hardly giving me chance to see what was in it. The contents are pretty sturdy, so nothing’s been damaged even with a 4 year old being heavy handed.
In the box, you get the actual station (handily you can lift the lid and store the main bits inside it when not in use); 4 standard size snack pouches (125ml), 2 large sports pouches (250ml), plus 2 spoons for those weaning babies on purees. The pouches are clear (on one side for the small ones), so you can see how much space is left while filling. I’m a fan of children knowing what they’re eating, so being able to see the smoothie as they’re drinking it is good in my book.
You can put up to 500ml of smoothie or puree in the station, and it can take food temperatures up to 70 degrees C. We didn’t try it hot, but that’s handy if you’re pureeing hot food for babies and want to store straight away rather than waiting for it to cool before filling the pacsk.
Then we got on to setting it up. Now I’m pretty good at working out how to do things, but I did have a few issues on this. The side of the box has instructions (including diagrams), but it wasn’t particularly clear to me. I’d have preferred to see written instructions inside the box too, especially as we don’t tend to keep boxes, so will lose the instructions for anyone else to use it.
I also didn’t do things in the right order, so I really should read instructions properly (I usually do, but for some reason that went out of the window). Essentially on the little holes you add the little connectors, then push on the smoothpacks. You can just pour in the smoothie you’ve made elsewhere, or use a hand blender to make your smoothie in the station. We did the latter – bananas, yoghurt and some raspberries as they were readily available. It does make it easier than having to clean another blender, but may not get everything as smooth as blitzing it properly in a proper blender or the like.
This is where we were a bit dozy – we should have put on the smoothpacks before putting the smoothie in. But we managed ok without too many spills. Then you put the plunger into the station and rotate it down to push the smoothie into the packs. This is where I had some spillage issues. On the bottom of the plunger is a purple rubbery vacuum – on the instructions this wasn’t mentioned so I left it off. Oops. Don’t do this because you end up with smoothie coming out of the top. The next time we used the station, I added it back on, and although it’s hard to plunge down, we didn’t have any escapee smoothie.
N loves the smoothpack station. He’s claimed it for his own, and on the first time of using it, he drank all 3 of the smoothie pouches we filled. The second time, he had a whole sports pack full. The pouches are easy to fill; I did find I needed to open the side folded part out to help them fill. And it’s hard to get them pushed on to the connectors hard enough, so I could have done with extra hands to ensure they stayed on tightly. The plunger doesn’t get all of the smoothie from the bottom into the packs – this was a tad annoying, but was obviously to try and stop any escaping when you remove the smoothpacks from the connectors.
I didn’t fill them too much because I didn’t want them to burst open. The screw tops are just the same as the ones in the shop, and easy for little hands to use. N loved drinking his smoothies out of these packs as you can see. You could fill several and keep in the fridge for having throughout the day. And they’d be easy to take out and about – if you just use fruit then no need to keep cool either.
I wasn’t too worried about these opening while in a bag. They’re pretty tight to open the side. My concern was (and still is) the cleaning of the packs.
The packs go in the dishwasher – you pop the dishwasher stands on your dishwasher spikes, open up the side of the pouches and place them over the stands, then wash. They’re simple enough to use, but I did find that after a dishwasher cycle they still weren’t thoroughly clean because the folded parts didn’t stay open enough. Even when handwashing, I struggled to get them clean so they do take some cleaning.
N enjoyed playing with the dishwasher stands – I reckon they look a bit like those strange head massagers with ‘legs’.
All in all, using the smoothpack station got mixed results.
What could they improve on?
- Better instructions
- Easier to wash – a way of keeping them open better
- Better connection for the pouches to the station
What did we like?
- Fun – a definite hit with children
- Good for taking the pouches out and about
- Better for the environment than buying one use pouches from the shops.
At £19.95, the Smoothpack station isn’t a bad price. If the cleaning aspect was easier, I’d probably just buy the packs themselves and fill them manually. I’d rather be able to have the smoothie maker and pouch filler in one piece of equipment. You can buy them at Cuckooland.
Disclosure: We were sent a Smoothpack station for the purpose of review. All opinions and words are my own.