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creating {healthy eating} habits in kids :: kitchen play

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I hope yesterdays post on how to get your kids involved in the kitchen was helpful and inspiring! Today I want to show you how I use food prep and meal planning become occupying kitchen play, and how I have set up the girls’ “play kitchen” in their playroom.

There is seriously nothing more fun to a kid then getting their hands messy! So scrub up their little paws and let them get their hands into whatever you are doing 🙂

Chloe age 3 helping scoop out tomatoes for tomato soup – I let her play in the tomato seeds/juices that are left in the bowl 😉 Slimy sensory fun!

I cannot tell you how many times I have chopped up part of what will be dinner, and while I’m prepping the rest, or cooking I give the bowl of chopped up peppers or carrots to my oldest to dump in and out of a bowl, stir up with a spoon, stack up like a tower…possibilities are endless!

Chloe age 2 1/2 – I had cut all this up for spaghetti night and she spent almost an hour putting the chicken in and out of the bowl, stirring it around, and pretending she was cooking 🙂

Let them smear butter on a whole chicken to roast, squish their hands in a squash to get the seeds out, and pull apart cooked beef for shredded beef sandwiches.

Chloe age 2 1/2 helping pull beef apart to shredded for bbq beef sandwiches. Fine motor pinching skills for sure!

As long as they are old enough to comprehend not putting it in their mouths (my youngest is not trustworthy here yet, although I will most likely be doing pumpkins and squash with her this fall!) then go for it! It is the most occupying thing they will do all day! Not to mention sensory engaging, fine motor building, and creative mind provoking!

Chloe age 2, after scooping the seeds out of a pumpkin I gave her a spoon and the bowl of “guts” and she played with them forever 🙂

Let’s talk play kitchens! One of my biggest peeves about play kitchen food is all the processed boxes of junk they duplicate! My oldest doesn’t even know what half of it is because she has never seen it in our house! So about a year and a half ago I started washing and saving empty containers and jars of stuff that WE used in OUR kitchen so she could have them in HER kitchen to play with! Everything from empty coconut oil jugs to seasoning jars, sour cream containers to olive oil bottles! Just throw away small tops that would be choking hazards. Take a peek at our set up and be inspired!

From left to right: play kitchen, scrap wood cubbies for empty jars/containers, cheap drawer tubs with play food and plates, pots, and silverware.

A shot of the wooden cubbies (they were originally going to be wine racks!). You can see the different jars/containers that I washed out for them to keep. I throw away any small tops or super glue them on.

My oldest feeds her babies exactly what we prepare in the kitchen! And even when they aren’t playing “cooking” they love working on getting tops on and off, putting things in the containers, and stacking! We of course have great play fruits and veggies, meats and grains duplicates we bought for Christmas this past year too.

Chloe feeding her baby cod liver oil 😉

Went into Mama’s mixing bowl cupboard so she could cook with her baby 🙂

Here is some more kitchen play inspiration for you!

I have ONE bottom drawer with any kitchen utensils that are not sharp, pokey, or will slam shut or pinch that the girls are allowed to play in – it’s a big hit 🙂

I have a pull out mason jar drawer that I let them play in too…they will spend forever putting stuff like cotton balls, toys, cloths pins in and out of the jars!

These are the jars I used for making baby food and one day Chloe found them and was pretending to make baby food for her baby 🙂

Pumpkin guts are the best 🙂 This is Chloe age 2. We just did squashes again last week and Chloe played for and HOUR with the seeds at age 3!

Playing 🙂

So tell me! What do your kids love to play in their kitchens?! Boys too! My nephews LOVE playing kitchen when they come over! It’s good for them! My hubby is one if the best cooks I know! I love that he knows his way around a kitchen 😉

This post was shared at Real Food Freaks Freaky Friday and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday!

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  • Shannon :: owner
    September 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    You go girl! This post rocks – thanks for all the inspiration! I need to get a crackin’….my kids think it’s so cool when I give them empty containers, but now I just need to get more diligent and bring them down to their play area!

  • Carinn
    September 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I try to give the girls our old containers for playing in their kitchen too! Although your play kitchen looks much more organized than ours. 🙂 You can also superglue those small tops or lids on.

  • Jaime :: owner
    September 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I totally love the idea of using the old containers for playing…I am going to start doing that…That is awesome!! One of those why didn’t I think of that moments