Play Kitchen Food and Accessory Storage

how to store play kitchen food

A year ago, Santa brought Nell a play kitchen for Christmas. We specifically asked him to bring a play kitchen that wasn’t pink and plastic because, regardless of whom a toy is brought for, everyone gets to play with toys in our house so we wanted something “gender neutral”. Santa picked the Kidkraft Uptown Espresso kitchen…I’m assuming he knew that primary colors were probably not my thing either :). Anyway, the kitchen is awesome. Nell got a couple sets of play food along with her kitchen and some pots and pans, and then we asked family who wanted gift ideas to get her some more play food for her 2nd birthday last June. For Christmas this year, B and I gave Nell a set of play kitchen small appliances, and she also got lots of baby doll feeding accessories that we play with at the kitchen. We don’t have a ton as far as play food goes, and I know our collection will grow over the years, but a year in, I’ve found a system that works for us for organizing the stuff, and I wanted to share it with you.

I had no clue how to organize the play food at first – just kept everything in the container it came in and put it in the fridge. That only worked until she got more food and dishes and the little appliances we gave her this year for Christmas. So here’s what I’ve come up with and what has been working for us. First of all, I’m picky about play kitchen food…mostly because I love it, and I like playing with it with the kids. Nell has a little shopping cart that came from Target and all the food in it was dinky. So eventually, I just donated it all – we had a lot of repeats of certain foods that I liked better. I love the Learning Resources play food (we have this Healthy Dinner Basket and the Farmer’s Market Set – which my kids use to both play grocery store and “Church” since the baskets apparently remind them of the offertory baskets at Church…) as well as Melissa and Doug food – the slice and bake cookies are such a hit with Miss Nell she often sleeps with them. I have my eyes on a few other sets for upcoming birthdays, including this Pizza set and this Ice Cream set (mostly because I had a play food ice cream set growing up and it was my very favorite…told you, I love the play food just as much as the kids).

As for storing the food, all produce and food is stored fridge or freezer of the play kitchen. Anything that doesn’t fit gets stored in the toy cabinet for rotation. For now, all of our food fits into the shopping basket that came with the Learning Resources Healthy Dinner basket, but as our food collection grows, we may have to find different containers that rotate. All the produce that goes in the Farmer’s Market baskets fits in the shopping basket – for 6 months I resorted all the food every night, and then I decided that it was going to get dumped out anyway, so might as well just embrace it.


Santa brought Nell a Bitty Baby for Christmas, and for now, all of her accessories fit in a small target container that are stored in the freezer. As her doll accessories and collection grows, I can foresee needing a different solution for that, but for now, this works. Nell is my organizational girl, when I gave her the tub she said, “For me? Oh fank you mama! I just yove it.” No sweat, kiddo. No sweat. She loves having her own container that’s just for her baby stuff. I foresee arguments over who gets to use the label maker in our future…


Back to food: Anything that would get cooked in the oven, including baking sheets, is stored in the oven. Pretty self explanatory, no clue why it took me a year to get here.


Dishes, pots and pans and small appliances are stored in the dishwasher in tubs I picked up at Target…they fit perfectly in the dishwasher of the kitchen. They do have lids, but I just store those in the toy cabinet because I find that things are more likely to get put away without the lids on, and these items are big enough I’m not worried about them walking away.



And that’s that. It works great for us so far, and has a little bit of room to accommodate more. Nell and Thomas love to play together at the play kitchen. And Peter likes to be wherever Tom and Nell are.



Playroom Makeover

When Thomas was born, the office transitioned into an office and a space for his equipment to hang out so it wasn’t in our main living space. As he started playing more and more, the office became half playroom/half office, and it worked alright. It wasn’t pretty, but it was functional.

This summer, we added the baby equipment back to the playroom mix and it was no longer functional…and far from pretty. So one night two weeks postpartum when Mr. B was at school and Nell was actually asleep, I moved furniture around. And by around I mean from all over the house into the room, out of the room into different rooms, out and then back in.

My thought process was: 1) We still need a small corner devoted to the computer because I still work from home and B needs a space to study and do homework, but for where we are in life right now, a fully dedicated office space just isn’t the best use of our square footage. 2) We need open floor space for playing with cars and trucks and big puzzles. 3) We need a sturdier table for craft projects and puzzles and 4) If it could all look somewhat nice, I’d be happy.

Being that I was two weeks postpartum on unpaid maternity leave, this needed to happen for a budget of $0. Okay, more realistically, it needed to come in under $50 a month (the amount that I allocate to spend on the house each month in our envelope budget). I came in at $62.99 for the whole makeover…not bad.

Before, it was mostly office with a little playroom mixed in. It was okay, but the furniture wasn’t so much my style now as it was 5 years ago when we bought the house.

Now? Mostly playroom with a little office.

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My desk got moved to the wall closest to the archway – sometimes it housed the leaning bookshelves, sometimes it was empty. 

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The new table and stools I found on Craigslist for $50. They normally retail for $300 for the table and $150 for the benches. They were honey oak, but a few cans of paint (that I already owned) fixed that. It’s a much sturdier table, and it’s big enough that I can sit on one of the benches to finger paint with Thomas or work on puzzles with him.

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Recognize our banquette? I wanted a storage bench in the playroom, but given the budget, I was going to have to wait awhile on that. While I liked the softness the banquette added to the kitchen nook, I didn’t like the practicality of climbing in and out of a bench. So I just slid it into the playroom, tried it in a few spots, and settled on it below the three square windows. It makes so much more sense in this room for our lives right now.

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Most importantly, there’s lots of floor space. For doing puzzles:
Shooting hoops:

 And growing up way too fast:

 That’s our playroom as it stands today.  I like it a lot, it’s a drastic improvement over where it was. We spend most of our time in this room when we’re not outside, so it needed to be functional and make me happy. For zero-ish dollars. Mission accomplished. What do you think?