May 14, 2022  

Organizing Our Play Kitchen & Play Food

If your kids’ play kitchen is an unorganized mess, here are some Quick tips for organizing play food and play dishes.

Our play kitchen gets played with all the time and I still can’t believe it was a thrift store find!

After a few years of heavy use, the play kitchen was overflowing with play food and lots of other odds and ends. And when every shelf of the fridge and oven is stuffed full of toys, it’s not quite as fun to play with!

So the other day Chloe (4 1/2) and I reorganized all of our play food, removed the excess clutter, and set up an organized play kitchen that she’s been so excited to play with!

Looking for more kids’ organizing ideas? Take a look at these blog posts:


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Play Kitchen Organization

1. Assess The PRoblem Areas

Before I jump into any organizing project, I like to zoom out and evaluate what’s working/not working. This helps identify problem areas that need attention.

Problem areas:

  • Too much stuff shoved in the kitchen meant less space for play
  • A lot of baskets ended up being removed while playing and would get strewn all over the living room
  • Lots of random toys had been shoved in the kitchen over time which made it messy, crowded, and hard to find the play food
  • Logan is getting mobile and we needed to remove any tiny toys that could be choking hazards
  • The blue baskets fit pretty well but you couldn’t see what play food was inside

2. Sort & Purge

I involved Chloe in this project to give her some ownership since it’s her play kitchen. Kids are so much more likely to help maintain an organized space when they helped and are proud of how nice it looks.

We started by removing everything from the play kitchen and collecting all the stray play food and dishes from around the house.

Then I helped her sort things into three categories:

  1. Play food & dishes
  2. Toys that didn’t belong in the kitchen
  3. Things we could donate/discard

We filled up two little baskets of random toys that didn’t belong and I set those aside to put away later.

We also came up with a small pile of play kitchen items that Chloe chose to get rid of.

When I bought her kitchen from the thrift store, it came filled with a very random assortment of dishes and food. It was awesome to get us started, but since then she’s collected some nicer kitchen items and some of those older things weren’t really needed anymore.

She also decided to get rid of two larger muffin tins and a large dish drying rack, three larger items that took up a lot of space and were rarely used. I’m so proud of her for being willing to declutter some toys!

3. Add Containers

If you feel like your play food is always strewn all over, adding a few containers might help!

We were previously using some old blue baskets from Dollar Tree. They fit pretty well in our play kitchen and although they’re a little flimsy, they worked.

If you’re on a budget, bins from the dollar store are a great option for kids’ spaces like this.

I didn’t love how the blue baskets were so curved on the corners and had such angled sides. It felt like the shape of the baskets meant lost storage space. I also much prefer clear containers in most projects so you can easily see what’s inside.

So while we were at it, I rounded up a few clear bins that were leftover from past organizing projects. Not only are they clear, they also have awesome handles and are super sturdy.

We tested them out in the kitchen and figured out which ones fit best.

Here are links to the containers we ended up using:

4. CAtegorize

Chloe helped me categorize the play food and play dishes into the new bins. Once I helped establish the categories, she did a great job sorting everything accordingly!

Your categories will depend on what types of kitchen items you own and how many containers you’re working with.

Remember that this is a play kitchen and you want to create a system that your kids can understand and realistically maintain.

If you have a larger set of a specific kind of play food like a big ice cream set or pizza making set, you might want to designate a specific container to keep that set all together.

I created the following broad categories:

  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Sweets
  • Dinner Ingredients (breads, meats, pizza)
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Bowls
  • Utensils
  • Pots, Pans & Serving Trays
  • Apron & Oven Mitts

5. Add Labels

Labels aren’t 100% necessary for a play kitchen, but you know I can’t resist an opportunity to add a cute label!

Since the bins are clear, it’s pretty easy to see what’s inside. But simple picture labels are easy for kids to understand and make it clear where everything goes.

I made the labels out of adhesive vinyl using my Cricut Joy. You can learn more about how to make vinyl labels with your Cricut Joy here.

The Cricut Joy is perfect for this project because it’s so small and portable, easy to pull out and work on our labels right on the living room floor. Chloe dug through my vinyl rolls and chose this pretty royal blue color.

I searched the Cricut Design Space software for images to represent each play food category and found lots of great options. And with my Cricut Access subscription, they were all free to use!

After my machine finished cutting the labels, I weeded away the excess vinyl and used transfer tape to apply the labels to each container.

Gosh the play kitchen is so fun to play with now! Chloe has been playing “restaurant” a lot in the past two weeks since we did this project. It’s really fun when you can see all of the play food options at a glance!

By purging some things and removing the extra toys that didn’t belong, we freed up a LOT of space. There’s plenty of room to add more play food to the containers and we were able to leave the oven completely empty so it’s ready for playing without having to move anything out of the way!

Looking for more kids’ organizing ideas? Take a look at these blog posts:

Have a fantastic day!

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a working mom juggling two young kids, a corporate job, and all that goes into managing a home. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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