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Easy Ways to Make Play-Food with Stuff Around the House

Updated on June 22, 2020
Michelle HOVORKA Oxner profile image

Michelle is a stay-at-home parent to a five-year-old boy, three-year-old girl, two dogs, and one husband. She lives in Houston.

Easy home made play-food!
Easy home made play-food!

When I was a little girl my mom would put empty little cereal boxes and cleaned out cans in my play kitchen. I didn’t have any store-bought play food. Did that even exist in the 80’s? I loved it. I played in that play kitchen for hours. Fast forward to my children and they love their play kitchen as well. Especially my three-year-old daughter. She will make whole feasts with her play-food. I have done the same thing my mom did for their play kitchen with food boxes and plastic bottles. (Not cans, this is not the 80’s anymore! I never cut myself on those cans, but I’m sure my kids would find a way.) It’s great, free play-food! The only problem is the boxes get destroyed in about 2.3 seconds. The solution is not making fancy paper mache play food that you see on Pinterest. Even if I tried that it wouldn’t turn out well. I am not super crafty. I found an easy solution at our local Houston Children’s Museum. There they have an area called Kidtropolis. This place is pretend play on crack. It is a whole pretend little town. There is a bank, vet, newsroom, post office, restaurant, etc. My kids' very favorite is the HEB grocery store. It is a mini-play grocery store with cash registers, shopping baskets, and tons of play food of course! They have high-quality play food for things like produce and the meat section. The boxed items however are HEB brand items. I realized that I could easily replicate what they did with food boxes at home. My mom also got inspired and made some cool home-made play-food. In this article, you will find three ideas on how to make easily make play-food with stuff you have around the house.

Idea #1: Boxes

Here is what you do to make your food boxes into more durable children’s museum-quality play food.

Materials:  box, clear packing tape, and filler paper.
Materials: box, clear packing tape, and filler paper.


  • Food box
  • Clear packing tape
  • Filler paper (junk mail, old newspaper, etc.)

Fill the box with filler paper
Fill the box with filler paper

Step 1

Crumble up the filler paper. Fill the box up with the filler paper and close. Make sure the box is not overstuffed but full. Push on the box and make sure it keeps its shape. If it does not keep its shape, put more paper inside.

Stuff crumbled paper into the box
Stuff crumbled paper into the box

Step 2

With the clear packing tape start at one end of the box and wrap around horizontally from one end to the other.

Cover the box with clear packing tape horizontally and vertically.
Cover the box with clear packing tape horizontally and vertically.

Step 3

Do the same as step 2 but vertically. This way you get all sides of the box.

All done!  Now let your kids play!
All done! Now let your kids play!

Idea #2: Round Food Containers

My mom came up with this idea. She made super cute play-food out of round containers for the kids to play with when they visit her. They are super simple to make. Here are the materials you will need:

  • Washed out round containers. Keep the lid attached.
  • Cotton balls (You could use paper, but I think cotton balls would work best.)
  • Clear packing tape

Fill the container with cotton balls.  Keep the lid partly attached if you can.
Fill the container with cotton balls. Keep the lid partly attached if you can.

Step 1

1. Fill the container with cotton balls.

Cut slits into tape and fold down.
Cut slits into tape and fold down.

Step 2

Cut clear packing tape a little longer than the container. Cut three slits into each end of the tape. Fold-down around the shape of the container on each side. Repeat this w until the whole lid is covered.

Ready for play!
Ready for play!

Idea #3: Play-Food Blueberries

My mom also came up with this creative idea of making play-food blueberries. Here are the materials you will need:

  • Washed out blueberry container.
  • Blue marbles and/or blue cotton balls
  • Clear Packing Tape

She filled the container with blue marbles and blue cotton balls. She then taped it shut in a similar way that she did with the round containers. Make sure the whole lid is covered with tape. She found the blue marbles at Dollar Tree.

Play-food blueberries
Play-food blueberries

I hope you and your little one enjoy these easy to make play-food ideas. You won't spend much time or money making this play-food so no big deal if your dog chews it up!

© 2020 Michelle Hovorka Oxner


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