20 Best Play Food Sets Your Kids Will Want in 2017


One of the most interesting gifts you can ever give to kids are play food sets. Not only are these helpful in fostering color and shape recognition as well as tactile stimulation, they also provide a very important benefit of introducing kids to the different foods available today. While these are not necessarily edible, giving them the chance to play with these, especially if they already have their own kitchen play sets, can help build appreciation and better understanding of balanced nutrition.

However, as there are literally tens of thousands of play food sets in toy stores, both online and offline, choosing the best one for the age and developmental stage of your child may be challenging. As such, you need help in streamlining the number of toys to choose from.

Now we are proud to present to you our list of the play food sets we guarantee your kids will definitely want this 2016.

Our 20 Best Play Food Toys & Gift Ideas For Children

PictureToyBrandAge Range
Melissa & Doug Food GroupsMelissa & Doug 3 Years +
Learning Resources Fresh Picked Fruit And Veggie ToteLearning Resources2 Years +
Learning Resources New Sprouts Munch It! Food SetLearning Resources2-6 Years
Learning Resources New Sprouts Dinner BasketLearning Resources2-10 Years
Little Tikes Backyard Barbeque Grillin' GoodiesLittle Tikes3-15 Years
Melissa & Doug Wooden Sandwich-Making SetMelissa & Doug3-5 Years

1Food Groups by Melissa & Doug 

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Age range: At least 3 years old

With 4 beautiful wooden crates to place different types of food, the Food Groups play set by Melissa & Doug is one great gift suggestion for kids. The 4 crates represent the 4 major food groups that include fruits and vegetables, grains, milk and dairy products, and meat and fish.

What We Like about It – It’s a great play food set that will help teach kids about food groupings. For younger kids, it can help reinforce mastery of colors as well as introduction to the different foods that are readily available both in the kitchen and in the market. Also helps with expansion of kids’ vocabulary. 

2Fresh Picked Fruit and Veggie Tote by Learning Resources

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Age range: At least 2 years old

What better way to introduce the idea of freshness in food to toddlers than the Fresh Picked Fruit and Veggie Tote? This bag full of natural goodness comes with more than 15 different fruits and vegetables such as apple, strawberry, apricot, pear, orange, lemon, berries, banana, grapes, and plums. It also comes with a potato, cabbage, onion, tomato, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, and green pepper.

What We Like about It – The toy set can make for an interesting imaginative play. The different textures and colors of the different fruits and vegetables can help further develop the color recognition and tactile intelligence of kids.

3New Sprouts Munch It! Food Set by Learning Resources

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Age range: 2 to 6 years old

The Munch It! Food Set is just one of the many sets in the New Sprouts line by Learning Resources. The pack comes with 20 pieces of play food items and accessories including bread, cheese, juice, yogurt, cereals. Mac and cheese, hotdog, cookie, muffin, bagel, and a whole lot more. The toys are made of soft and kid-safe plastic.

What We Like about It – It helps encourage imaginative play and can be instrumental in expanding children’s vocabulary. It’s also a great role play accessory especially for make-believe dinner time play.

(Hey! If You Like This, Then You May Also Want To Check Out: Best Play Kitchens)

4New Sprouts Dinner Basket by Learning Resources

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Age range: 2 to 10 years old

The 17-piece New Sprouts Dinner Basket is something that is excellent for role playing. It includes a steak, a grilled chicken breast, a baked potato, an ice cream sandwich, a glass of milk, a bundle of asparagus, 3 leaves of lettuce, a broccoli 2 slices of tomatoes, a corn, a ring of pineapple, and 2 slices of cucumber. It also comes with an empty bowl and a colorful basket for added role playing fun.

What We Like about It – The playset is excellent for stimulating imaginative play while at the same time helping kids appreciate the realism of the play food. This can be a great learning tool for introducing real food to kids.

5Backyard Barbecue Grillin’ Goodies by Little Tikes

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Age range: 3 to 15 years old

Everyone loves weekend barbecues. Now, kids can have their own make-believe barbecue station with the Backyard Barbecue Grillin’ Goodies that comes with about 20 pieces of realistic play food. It includes 2 burger patties, 2 sliced burger buns, 2 hotdogs, 2 hotdog buns, 2 corns, catsup, and mustard. It also comes with a tong, 2 sets of cutlery, 2 plates, a spatula, and table napkins.

What We Like about It – Helps enhance pretend play activities. This can help develop counterfactual reasoning. It’s also beneficial for the enhancement of social skills as the playset requires at least 2 to play.

6Wooden Sandwich-Making Set by Melissa & Doug

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Age range: 3 to 5 years old

One of the most classic comfort foods is a sandwich. You can stack them as high as you want and put as many fixins as you dare like. Now, kids can build their very own sandwich with the Wooden Sandwich-Making Set from Melissa & Doug. The kit comes with 16 pieces of beautiful crafted wooden sandwich pieces. It also comes with a wooden knife that can be used to “slice” sandwich pieces.

What We Like about It – The crunching sound as the wooden knife is sliced across the food pieces can help introduce the idea of freshness of ingredients. This helps in expanding kids’ imagination and creativity.

7Let’s Play House! Grocery Cans by Melissa & Doug

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Age range: At least 3 years old

The value of canned goods cannot be overstated especially in a very fast-paced environment of today. Kids must therefore be taught on the different canned food available and what these are for. The Lets Play House! Grocery Cans aims just that. The pack comes complete with 10 canned foods including tuna, mushrooms, tomato sauce, pineapple slices, green beans, alphabet soup, sliced peaches, peas, sweet pitted cherries, and corn kernels. The lid of these play canned food are easily removable.

What We Like about It – The toy is great for reinforcing fine motor skills as well as in expanding the vocabulary of kids. It’s also great for make-believe play.

8101 Piece Play Food Assortment by Step2

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Age range: 2 to 8 years old

If your kid already has a kitchen play set then you need to give him or her the 101 Piece Play Food Assortment as a gift. This can readily expand the toy collection of children and make imaginative play more fun. The set comes with a variety of play food that includes fruits and vegetables, breads and pastries, meats, and a whole lot more.

What We Like about It – It’s a great expansion pack especially for kids with existing cooking or kitchen play sets. Helps build vocabulary related to food terms.

9Farmers Market Color Sorting Set by Learning Resources

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Age range: 3 to 6 years old

Who says that you cannot learn with food? With the Farmers Market Color Sorting Set, the goal is primarily to organize the different foods into their respective colors of red, purple, yellow, green, and orange. There are around 25 foods in the set with 5 each corresponding to the different colors printed on the baskets.

What We Like about It – It’s a unique way to help young children try their hands at organization and classification. This can become the basis of other more complex cognitive processes in the future.

10Fridge Food Set by Melissa & Doug

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Age range: 3 to 5 years old

Know what foods are in your fridge? Maybe you can help your kids learn them by playing a toy replica of these more common ref foods. With the Fridge Food Set, they will get to expand their play food collection with yogurt, milk, ice cream, orange juice, frozen vegetables, waffles, cheese, butter, and bologna.

What We Like about It – The set is instrumental in teaching kids about which foods should always be placed in the ref to prevent food spoilage. Additionally, it’s a great way to reinforce color and shape recognition.

11New Sprouts Bushel of Veggies by Learning Resources

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Age range: 2 to 10 years old

Vegetables are one of the healthiest foods. Unfortunately, few children love them. You can help kids get a better appreciation of vegetables by giving them the New Sprouts Bushel of Veggies as a birthday gift. The pack comes with an assortment of vegetables with spectacular realism.

What We Like about It – The color, shape, and texture of the vegetables can help with the enhancement of the sensory skills of children. This can also be an interesting discussion point on the value of vegetables in everyday life.

12Cutting Food by Melissa & Doug

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Age range: 3 to 5 years old

Knife skills is very important in the culinary arts. If you are concerned about safety, the Cutting Food play set can help address this concern. The play food have already been pre-cut and are held in place by Velcro. All kids have to do is to pretend slicing the food using the accompanying wooden knife and they are good to go.

What We Like about It – Helps kids feel more comfortable about how to properly slice food. It helps reinforce their motor skills as well as helps encourage creative and imaginative play.

13New Sprouts Garden Fresh Salad Set by Learning Resources

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Age range: 3 to 12 years old

For dieters, the vegetable salad is one of the mainstays of their diet. Kids can also create their very own healthy salad with the New Sprouts Garden Fresh Salad Set. The play set comes with a large mixing bowl complete with tongs and 5 smaller serving bowls. The vegetables are soft enough to be “tossed” in the bowl.

What We Like about It – It’s great for enhancing both fine and gross motor skills of kids and encouraging their creativity especially in the making of a healthy and fresh salad. It also teaches kids about serving sizes and sharing of food.

14Cutting Fruit Set by Melissa & Doug

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Age range: 3 to 5 years old

If your kid is fearful of cutting or slicing food, you can slowly desensitize him or her using the Cutting Fruit Set. All play fruit pieces are already pre-cut. All your kid has to do is to hold the wooden knife and let it glide through the pre-cut portion.

What We Like about It ­– Helps strengthen kids’ hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. May also facilitate confidence in slicing or cutting food.

15Wooden Pizza Party by Melissa & Doug

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Age range: At least 3 years old

Everyone loves pizza. Children can now have an excellent make-believe pizza extravaganza with the Pizza Party playset. The toy comes with 6 slices that are topped with more than 50 different ingredients. It also comes with a pizza spatula and a cutter both made of wood. In fact, all of the pieces are made of wood, including the pizza box.

What We Like about It – There’s no better way to simulate serving the best-tasting pizza in the world than with this toy. It’s safe and, best of all, it’s realistic for excellent make-believe or pretend play.

16Felt Food Pizza Set by Melissa & Doug

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Age range: 3 to 7 months

For children who love to play make-believe pizza eating, you can give them the Felt Food Pizza Set. The 40 pizza toppings are made of soft felt and can be spread around the 4-slice pizza. The set comes with a unique serving pizza pan and a decorative and colorful pizza delivery box.

What We Like about It – It’s an excellent way to encourage creativity and imagination. Kids can try rearranging the different pizza toppings to create the much-desired “effect”.

17New Sprouts Cookout Set by Learning Resources

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Age range: 2 to 12 years old

If your kid is reaming of becoming the next Iron Chef or even a Master Chef, then you might want to give him or her the New Sprouts Cookout Set. The 19-piece set comes with 2 sets of dinnerware and cutlery including condiments. It includes an ice cream sandwich, 2 hotdog sandwiches, chips, and a variety of vegetables.

What We Like about It – The set is excellent for pretend play which can be the basis for the development of more complex problem solving skills. It also helps expand your kid’s vocabulary making for a more interesting play.

18Living Peel ‘N’ Play Playset by Small World Toys

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Age range: 3 to 5 years old

Food preparation is an essential part of cooking. With the Living Peel ‘N’ Play Playset, your kids can now develop the much-needed skills for preparing a variety of vegetables like cabbage, onions, carrot, broccoli, and eggplant just to name a few. It comes complete with a plastic knife and a cutting board for excellent pretend play.

What We Like about It – The play food pieces are already pre-cut and joined by Velcro. This allows kids to pretend they are slicing and peeling the vegetables. Excellent for enhancing dexterity and encouraging imagination.

19Wooden Pantry Products by Melissa & Doug

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Age range: 3 to 5 years old

The pantry is that part of the house where you store your food supply, mostly those with long shelf-lives. You can teach your kids these foods with the Wooden Pantry Products play food set which includes tuna, cereals, crackers, spaghetti, ketchup, canned soup, sugar, salad dressing, and deli mustard. All toy pieces are made of high quality wood and finished with safe materials.

What We Like about It – It’s an excellent addition to any existing food play set, especially if bought as an expansion set for other Melissa & Doug toys. Great for imaginative and creative play.

20Ice Cream Scoop Set by Melissa & Doug 

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Age range: 3 to 5 years old

Aside from chocolates, children love ice cream the most. With the Ice Cream Scoop Set, you might as well be giving them the best gift of their pretend play lives. The set comes with 2 magnetic ice cream scoops, 2 ice cream cones, and 4 scoops of delicious-looking ice cream in 4 different flavors including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mint chocolate chip.

What We Like about It – The toy is great for encouraging creative and imaginative play. It is also valuable in enhancing color recognition as well as in the reinforcement of motor skills in operating the magnetic ice cream scoop.

How We Came Up with Our Most Popular List

Understanding the predicament of every parent has been our primary motivation for performing a very exhaustive research into the best play food sets available today. It is very important that we take into consideration the safety of the materials used in the manufacture of such toys. They must be free from lead, phthalate, BPA, and other harmful chemicals. Additionally, the design must be appropriate to the developmental age of children. For example, older kids will require more realistic play food items while younger children will need safer and more rounded play foods because of safety considerations. We also had to consider what other parents and consumers have to say about these play food sets. We want to provide you with a list of toys that have been fully accepted and duly recommended by fellow parents. Lastly, we also had to look at the trustworthiness of the toy maker. This is crucial because a company with a good manufacturing practices certification will clearly be a lot better choice than one that doesn’t have any certification at all. Recipients of specific toy design awards are also counted.

Children and the Value of Play Food Sets

One of the most challenging aspects of child-rearing is getting young children to have exhibit appreciation for a wide variety of foods especially fruits and vegetables. This is where play food sets can help parents by providing kids with the right tools to simulate the planning of meals, the preparation of food, the cooking of dishes, and the organization and setting up of the table. While it is understandable that younger kids will still not be able to really appreciate the concept of good nutrition, older kids will learn about adhering to the different food groups. When played together with other children, it can help foster healthier eating habits by conforming to the rules set by the peer group.

For younger children, the bright colors of the play food sets can help enhance mastery of the different hues. They will also be able to reinforce their mastery of different colors and shapes through the play food items that they are provided. In some types of toys where the food items form part of a puzzle, these help develop early problem solving skills particularly the convergent type.

However, as older kids can play with the play food sets in an open-ended manner, their divergent problem solving skills as well as counterfactual reasoning skills can be developed an/or enhanced. This type of problem solving skill makes use of more complex cognitive processes that are essential building blocks to more complicated experimentation, scientific problem solving, and logic and critical thinking. Playing in an open-ended manner helps facilitate the formation of what-if phenomenon which can help enhance children’s ability for prediction.

On the physical side of child development, picking up the different types of play foods require control of smaller groups of muscles. It also helps develop hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and spatial intelligence. For older kids, playing with these foods on a make-believe kitchen can help strengthen leg and arm muscles as kids will have to make use of larger groups of muscles to move about and cook and prepare their make-believe dishes.

Regardless of age, the mere fact that play food sets help children act out their fantasies can help in their emotional development. This can become the basis for the development of a healthier self-concept, boosting their self-confidence, and help establish more trusting relationships with their parents, their siblings, their friends, and other persons in their lives.

Play food sets are clearly one of the best gifts you can ever give a child. With our list of the 20 best play food sets for kids, we are confident that your kid will love you more when you give them one or all of these toys in our list.

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Selina Marie
Selina Marie is our head of content for MyKidNeedsThat.com, mum of two and a self proclaimed toy geek. When she isn't juggling the madness at home, on a school run or baking her world famous blueberry muffins, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest toys and fun for our readers!


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