Favorite Sources for Play Food and Dishes

One of my favorite classic toys is a wooden play kitchen, along with the accompanying play dishes and play food. I wrote about our wood play kitchen earlier. We still love it. My only regret is not buying it sooner. I bought it just last year, when I should have purchased it when my first child was a year old. My one-year-old plays with the kitchen the most of all my kids. She is endlessly fascinated by opening and closing the doors, by putting things inside and taking them back out, by dropping things through the sink hole and then opening the door to find them inside.

Here are some of our favorite sources for play food and play dishes.

Thrift Store
When I stroll through the houseware aisles of thrift stores, I always keep my eye out for dishes and cookware that my kids could use with their play kitchen. My best find so far: a lovely set of 1 large and 4 small wooden bowls (see above). Of course you might also luck out and find used play food and play dishes in the toy section.

Used Food Containers and Dishes
When my Ikea plastic dishes were replaced by stainless steel ones, some went into the party box (to be used instead of paper plates at parties or other large outdoor gatherings), but many went to the play dish bin. My children also love to use empty spice and salt containers. Anything unbreakable and not too large.

Restaurant Supply Store
I wouldn't go to a restaurant supply store just to purchase play dishes, but if you are already there to stock your own kitchen with stainless steel bowls, etc., look around for small-sized cookware and utensils for the play kitchen. I have found small tongs and tiny rolling pins, among other things, at my local store.

There is a lot of wonderful handmade play food made of yarn, fabric, felt or wood on Etsy. One of our favorite play kitchen items is a dozen wooden eggs purchased from Etsy store Urban Homesteaders (see photos above).

Craig's List
Because quality play food tends to be quite a bit more expensive than cheap plastic junk, it's always nice to find some used for a fraction of the regular price. If you have the patience to troll Craig's List, you might happen upon a large lot of wood and fabric play food. You might even luck out and find a wood kitchen that way -- I've seen a few, but never managed to snag one. 
Favorite Brands
My favorite brand of wood play food is Plan Toys: solid, smooth, water-based paints, zero-formaldehyde glue, and made in Thailand. We also have a lot of wooden play food by Melissa & Doug (made in China), which also sells a large variety of felt play food. Melissa & Doug toys are available at major retailers such as Kohl's and Toys R Us, and you can also find them for a steep discount at stores like Marshalls or TJ Maxx.

Natural Toy Stores
Another way to find great toy food made of non-toxic materials is to shop at "green" or "natural" toy stores. Heirloom Wooden Toys is an online toy store that has a large selection of wood and fabric foods by manufacturers like Plan Toys, Camden Rose, Soopsori, and Haba.

I love their stainless steel set of little pots and pans. It's also hard to beat their $7 felt play food sets (veggies, fruits, breakfast, sushi). My kids love the banana that can be peeled and the lettuce leaves that can be pulled off to make a salad.

Make Your Own
If you've got the time and the skills, there is no shortage of tutorials online for felt, fabric, or crocheted play food. Pinterest is a great place to start for inspiration.

What is your favorite source for play food and dishes?


  1. I love your wooden play kitchen. My guys would have loved that when they were younger. What a great resource. Thanks Betsy!

  2. I love those wooden eggs, and that etsy store! Thanks for sharing this. Hope to see you at True Aim!

  3. I purchased a Hape gourmet kitchen for my youngest last year from a local on line business and I love it. I foolishly bought a second hand plastic kitchen for my oldest daughter and regretted it almost immediately. It bit the dust quickly. My girls have some Melissa & Doug (didn't realize they were made in China) and some felted food. I'm hoping to make some cute felt foods I've pinned on Pinterest (now to find the time to do it, lol).

  4. I had no idea IKEA sold all those cool toys! Wish I had known when my kids were younger. The wooden kitchen is adorable. When my kids were younger we created a grocery store for them - like the ones in children's museums. I saved and sealed shut small cardboard and plastic food containers. They loved it!

  5. I just stumbled across this while looking for play food ideas and am so glad I did! I ordered a play kitchen from Willow Toys the other day for my daughter's upcoming first birthday, which I thought looked almost exactly like those from Elves and Angels, but the difference, at least in this model, is empty counter space! From what I can see, I think that will be more important for a one-year-old than the high, pretty shelves. I cancelled my order for Ivy's kitchen with them and will now order Christina's kitchen from Elves and Angels, so I really appreciate this post! ...Okay, back to choosing play food now.

    1. I'm glad this post was helpful to you. It's always helpful to see a toy in action. Hope you love your new kitchen!


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