Our kids love playing with their toy kitchen (yes, it is the ubiquitous Ikea Duktig play kitchen; and no, it has not, alas, been pimped). Over the years we’ve amassed a fair few bits of play food to go with it – some inherited, some gifted, a few picked up in the sales. But if we could do it all again, these eleven sets are the ones I’d make sure to get!
Our round-up of play food includes a few sneaky accessories, and a range of sweet ‘n’ savoury options. Most of these toys can be found in a wide range of retailers, but I’ve put Amazon links for your reference. These are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy anything, I will receive a small (wooden pea-sized!) sum from Amazon for the referral, without adding anything at all to your bill. I really appreciate your support – these pennies all go towards keeping this site running.
You can’t talk play food without mentioning Melissa and Doug. They produce so many marvellous food sets that it’s difficult to know which ones to pick. For us, this beautiful play food sushi set is a winner as we’re all big sushi fans, and this is one that we already have.
The set has a great range of sushi pieces (some with velcro, some with seaweed ribbons), a little bowl of soy sauce for dipping, some felt pickled ginger and a little bit of wasabi. The chopsticks have at velcro at one end to pick up the sushi with. Our kids have gotten great use out of this and I’m sure it’s helped make sushi seem normal – they certainly love eating real Japanese food
There are roughly a gazillion toy vegetable (and fruit) play food cutting sets, and they are always my preference over sets where the fruit and veg can’t be sliced up, as these give my kids plenty of fine motor skills practice and make great pretend-cooking ingredients.
This particular vegetables play food set from Tidlo appeals to because the pieces look great – bright, colourful and beautifully designed – but also because the choice of veg here is very much what my kids eat every day.
It is a dream of mine that our kids will one day eat a whole bowl of salad without tears or tantrums… If they had this tres cool salad set from Hape, I’m sure they’d be much more willing to chow down on some raw onion rings and swiss chard…
I love that, while made of mostly wooden pieces, this set uses contrastingly soft felt for the salad leaves – though I’m not completely sure why the carrot sticks, usually the crunch in our salads, are also made of this. But it’s a little quibble – for daring to believe that kids will be inspired to eat salad, this set definitely makes our list!
There are a ton of food-group and market-stall friendly play food sets, and this crate of play food fresh fish from master toy makers, Le Toy Van, is one of the best. The picture doesn’t do justice to the two different designs (one striped, one speckled) and the hint of glitter in the blue paint. The fake-newspaper packing is the icing on the cake.
As the kids’ kitchen is well stocked with fake fish (thanks to some dedicated lunchtime sushi-eating and soy sauce fish bottle saving by yours truly), so we have no real need to be buying this set – except who doesn’t need a box of glittery wooden fish in their lives? Think of the possibilities…
Another entry on the list from Hape – this time the German company brings us play food stacking hamburgers and hotdogs. There are many, many great play food variations on this theme – stacking sandwiches, tacos, pitta pockets and kebabs to name just a few. I’ve picked this particular set because, just as with the salad set, they’ve recognised the softer textures of the lettuce and cheese, and made these out of felt again.
While the salad set may be what we aspire to with our kids diet, this particular set is a winner because it gives us what is more likely in reality!
Whhhaaat?! Play food wooden macaroons in eight different colours, that can be taken apart, and mixed and matched to your perfect macaroon/filling combination? Yes please!
Clearly this one is as much for the grown-up as for the child – in our house macaroons are a once in a blue-moon treat (we’re more of a custard cream or chocolate bourbon household); however who could resist these rainbow lovelies? Bravo, Viga, Bravo!
7. Le Toy Van Dotty Kettle
This pretty little kettle is Le Toy Van’s second (but not last!) entry onto our list. Admitted not food, but it’s a vital component for making a nice cup of tea, and therefore counts as a play food necessity in my book! And look, it even has a bird whistle on the spout!
While we might dream of eating macaroons at some luxury high-tea emporium, the truth is we’ll be scoffing down jammy dodgers and digestives with a cup of PG tips. This lovely set of play food biscuits comes in a lovely little box and contains all our everyday favourites – there’s even a pink wafer (very fancy!).
Our kids love playing with these – they were a stocking filler from Father Christmas, and were an instant hit. With numbers on the back, these are even educational. Honest.
A staple of so many childhood dinners, when I came across these play food fish-fingers, it seemed so obvious that it shocked me I’d never thought of adding them to the kids’ kitchen before. These little beauties come in a German-language tin that just adds to the charm – yes, that is Captain Birdseye masquerading as Kapt’n Iglo… apparently that’s what he’s called in most of the rest of Europe.
And the best bit? They do wooden crinkle-cut chips as well!
It’s official, my children have a posher tea-set than me! Made of melamine, this fabulous tea set from design queen Emma Bridgewater is a magical addition to any play kitchen. As it’s made of melamine, the kiddies can drink out of these little cups without worry. The set comes with a milk jug, sugar bowl (and lid), plates, cups and saucers (and of course the teapot), as well as a set of four tiny little teaspoons. Domestic bliss for boys and girls!
Toast the bread in the toaster, spread on a pat of butter and some jam! Let your children re-live the heady highs of the breakfast they had an hour ago with this adorable play food set from Le Toy Van. We love that you can cut off a dollop of butter even though the toast comes pre-spread. The jam pot is great too – though we’d supplement it with a mini pot of marmite and some marmalade.
The last entry on our list was too good not to include.
So there you have it, our nowhere near exhaustive list of the best play food around. What we’ve found when buying play food is that our kids like interactive elements and familiar themes. These particular ones suit us – I’d love to know what works for you!
If you fancy making your own play food, why not try one of our quick and easy tutorials?