Play Food DIY: From the Dollar Store!

Get creative, use your imagination have some fun with your toddler! Why not make some Play Food DIY? It’s so easy and a great craft for your tight budget! You can find all of these items at the Dollar Store! Follow my guide to 3 awesome, play food DIY ideas you can make from the Dollar Store. Your toddler will have a blast using imagination, sensory play and developing his skills!

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Play Food DIY is easier than you may think! I embraced my frugal, creative side one afternoon at the Dollar Store! My toddler, Harry and I made the trip out and picked up a few items then we came home and “we” made these fun play food DIY items! Follow my guide to these 3 play food projects you can make easily!

play food diyPlay Food DIY Cake:

This is the showstopper item! I think I was initially more exited about it than my toddler, Harry was! I am a creative person and I love little projects. I especially love projects involving Harry’s developmental skills and imaginative play!

His bedtime rolled around and I couldn’t wait to get started making this decorative play food cakes… out of sponge! It’s SPONGE CAKE!! Get it?? Hahahaha… mom joke.

I said, ” I’m making cake for Harry.” My husband thought I was a little nuts.  He saw the sponges, glue, scissors and paint and gave me the crazy-mommy-Kelly-didn’t-get-enough-sleep-last-night look. Like when you find your TV remote in the fridge. Anyway…

It’s ok, he just doesn’t have my vision… 😉

If you aren’t afraid to get a little crafty, you will love this! Whip out your hot glue gun and a sharp pair of scissors!

*Safety Disclaimer: These items are for play and not consumption. (They contain paint and hot glue as well as the sponge product.) Children should always be monitored by adults when playing with any play food items. No play food items should enter your child’s mouth.*


Cake Play Food DIY: Here is the exact step-by-step tutorial with photos:

The entire process took me about 45 minutes to make 2 pieces of play food cake:

Start with this package of yellow and green sponges from the Dollar Store: The yellow base color is perfect for the yellow look of the ‘sponge cake’.

play food DIY

Have your glue gun and your scissors ready to go! To make 2 pieces of play food cake, I used a total of 3 sponges.

Cut off the green scrubby part of the sponge, (you can save that to do your dishes).

play food DIY

Use 1.5 total sponges per piece of play food cake (with the scrubby part cut off). You want 3 pieces of sponge to make layers for the cake.

play food DIY

Next shape all of your pieces into triangles to mimic a cake shape:

play food diy

Now stack your triangle pieces together (there should be 3 pieces for each piece of ‘cake’). Trim any parts evenly on the sides. Then you can begin the hot glue process.

play food diy

Once the sides are even, hot glue each layer together. I was generous with the amount of hot glue I used. I didn’t want it to come apart.

play food diy

Next is the fun part! Painting and Decorating your play food DIY cake: I have found the easiest way was to squirt some paint of your color choice onto a paper plate. I dunked the top side of my play cake right into that. Then I dunked the outer part of the cake- (like the crust) as well, so it resembles the look of a real cake with frosting, cut into pieces.

play food diy

play food DIY

Next, Paint the sides of the cake, inside each layer a bit (in a horizontal line) to make it look like ‘layers’:

play food diy

Then I laid the pink cake piece out to dry.

I repeated all these steps with another piece of play cake, and laid that out to dry as well. I waited about 30-45 minutes for the pink and purple colored paint to dry. Then I gave both pieces a little bit of decoration on top with the white paint to look like extra ‘frosting’:

Once it dried, this was the final product, below:

play food DIY

TA-DA!! I am super happy with how these play food DIY cake pieces turned out!

I love to play with them! … I mean Harry loves to play with them. Hahaha 😉

play food diy

play food diy

If you are Looking for More Sensory Play, check out these Fun Ideas!: 

Sensory Play Recipes_ copy

The next Play Food DIY item on the list is Pretend Fruit:

These adorable $1 fruit toy items were directly from the Dollar Store! However they are not what they appear to be! They are actually cute cases for shea butter lotion! You screw them open and find the lotion inside. (Similar to the popular lip glosses.) I found them at the checkout counter area.

*Tip: if you cannot find this particular item, the Dollar Store also carries the foam fruit (for decorative use), if you wanted to use that!

I knew these would make an adorable play food item for Harry! They are a wonderful size, and a hard, outer plastic texture. I decided to clean out the lotion from inside and then super-glue them closed. I am hoping this will make them more durable for future play.

In the picture on the bottom right, you can see where you unscrew the fruit from the middle line. (By my fingernail). Then I applied the superglue to the outer ridge of the open fruit, and then tightly screwed it back together. I let it dry overnight and then Harry played with these the next morning!

I think they are pretty realistic looking, compared to some of the plastic play food pieces I have seen. They are great quality play items now… after a bit of DIY improving.

I believe it is a solid play food toy for my toddler to play with!


This is the exact play kitchen that Harry has! He received this as a gift from my parents for his first birthday! He LOVES it, I would highly recommend it as a play kitchen for toddlers and kids. I love that it is not too large. Some play kitchens take up so much room, but this is a great size… almost the size of a small bedside table! Its a blast, check out the link here: 

Play Food DIY Final Idea:

Finally, we enjoyed these tiny utensils with some colored pasta play! There are actually 3 different Dollar Store items that I scored, here: Check us out playing on his toy kitchen!

*The Utensil Toy Set

*The little white bowls/cups (paper material)

*Pasta (Real Pasta, that we food colored)–check out the link for the full recipe,  below:


I found the utensil set in the toy isle of the Dollar Store. The little white cups were in the party planning area & paper goods. The dry pasta noodles were from the food aisle, and I had liquid food coloring already at home. I decided to make red and blue food coloring batches of dry pasta.

I have more ideas for sensory play! & For the full recipe for the colored, dry pasta play- check out this post.

I also found some tiny salt and pepper shakers for travel, from the Dollar Store. (Not pictured… but I think this will be a future project!) Those were adorable, and I can picture making some kind of tiny labels to mod-podge onto the tiny shakers.

Imagine all the possibilities: play soup can, play canned vegetables, play ketchup bottle! Think outside of the box and then just make it miniature! 🙂 Tiny play food items are adorable!

play food diy

Overall, the Play Food DIY Items Were a Hit!

I had such a blast making these items and we scored all these goodies for a grand total of about $10! You should not break the budget to find activities for your toddler! With a little bit of effort and some creativity, I made so many play food DIY items for my little guy, and so can you!

Give it a try, let me know in the comments what other great play food DIY items you’ve made! I would love to hear about it!

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LITTLE HAT FAMILY joins with Struggling with picky-eaters? Looking to healthify your family dinners or to overhaul your family’s eating habits? Head on over to our friends at for healthy eating tips, tricks, advice, and recipes. Who is Your Healthy Family Coach? We’re Stef and Rob and we are a husband and wife team raising four kids. We want to help all of you navigate your journey through the challenges and difficulties of clean eating and healthy living, especially with children! We believe in family dinners, clean eating, experience over stuff, green, sustainable living and finding the balance. Why I Love Them: focuses on real world, budget friendly clean eating for you and your entire family. From offering healthified recipes for all your family favorites to providing tips to get even the pickiest of eaters on a healthier path, provides relatable support for every parent.

Hi, I am Kelly! Creator and administrator of Little Hat Family, I absolutely adore my squishy, smiley, 10-month old son, Harrison (Harry), and my kind and cooperative husband Stefan. Our little millennial, hipster family lives in Chicago and yes, we do love hats!
As a professional nanny for 11 years in Chicago, and now a new mommy myself, I have picked up so much useful, modern, mommy advice and life hacks! I would love to pay it forward to my fellow mommy tribe!
I also love creating thrifty projects, organization, an organic lifestyle, dancing, blogging, cooking and spending time with our large families!
I absorb every drop of Mama advice I can get; and I’ve created some Modern Motherly advice along the way! We Modern Mommies have to stick together! Subscribe to my blog today, and let’s connect our Modern, Family Tribes! ~Kelly


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